Anna karenina, p.229
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       Anna Karenina, p.229

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 9

  These doubts fretted and harassed him, growing weaker or stronger fromtime to time, but never leaving him. He read and thought, and the morehe read and the more he thought, the further he felt from the aim he waspursuing.

  Of late in Moscow and in the country, since he had become convinced thathe would find no solution in the materialists, he had read and re-readthoroughly Plato, Spinoza, Kant, Schelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer, thephilosophers who gave a non-materialistic explanation of life.

  Their ideas seemed to him fruitful when he was reading or was himselfseeking arguments to refute other theories, especially those of thematerialists; but as soon as he began to read or sought for himself asolution of problems, the same thing always happened. As long as hefollowed the fixed definition of obscure words such as _spirit, will,freedom, essence,_ purposely letting himself go into the snare of wordsthe philosophers set for him, he seemed to comprehend something. But hehad only to forget the artificial train of reasoning, and to turn fromlife itself to what had satisfied him while thinking in accordance withthe fixed definitions, and all this artificial edifice fell to pieces atonce like a house of cards, and it became clear that the edifice hadbeen built up out of those transposed words, apart from anything in lifemore important than reason.

  At one time, reading Schopenhauer, he put in place of his will the word_love_, and for a couple of days this new philosophy charmed him, tillhe removed a little away from it. But then, when he turned from lifeitself to glance at it again, it fell away too, and proved to be thesame muslin garment with no warmth in it.

  His brother Sergey Ivanovitch advised him to read the theological worksof Homiakov. Levin read the second volume of Homiakov's works, and inspite of the elegant, epigrammatic, argumentative style which at firstrepelled him, he was impressed by the doctrine of the church he found inthem. He was struck at first by the idea that the apprehension of divinetruths had not been vouchsafed to man, but to a corporation of men boundtogether by love--to the church. What delighted him was the thought howmuch easier it was to believe in a still existing living church,embracing all the beliefs of men, and having God at its head, andtherefore holy and infallible, and from it to accept the faith in God,in the creation, the fall, the redemption, than to begin with God, amysterious, far-away God, the creation, etc. But afterwards, on readinga Catholic writer's history of the church, and then a Greek orthodoxwriter's history of the church, and seeing that the two churches, intheir very conception infallible, each deny the authority of the other,Homiakov's doctrine of the church lost all its charm for him, and thisedifice crumbled into dust like the philosophers' edifices.

  All that spring he was not himself, and went through fearful moments ofhorror.

  "Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life's impossible; andthat I can't know, and so I can't live," Levin said to himself.

  "In infinite time, in infinite matter, in infinite space, is formed abubble-organism, and that bubble lasts a while and bursts, and thatbubble is Me."

  It was an agonizing error, but it was the sole logical result of ages ofhuman thought in that direction.

  This was the ultimate belief on which all the systems elaborated byhuman thought in almost all their ramifications rested. It was theprevalent conviction, and of all other explanations Levin hadunconsciously, not knowing when or how, chosen it, as anyway theclearest, and made it his own.

  But it was not merely a falsehood, it was the cruel jeer of some wickedpower, some evil, hateful power, to whom one could not submit.

  He must escape from this power. And the means of escape every man had inhis own hands. He had but to cut short this dependence on evil. Andthere was one means--death.

  And Levin, a happy father and husband, in perfect health, was severaltimes so near suicide that he hid the cord that he might not be temptedto hang himself, and was afraid to go out with his gun for fear ofshooting himself.

  But Levin did not shoot himself, and did not hang himself; he went onliving.

 
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