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Article

A Never-Ending Dispute over Morality (Leo Tolstoy and Lev Shestov)

Russian Studies in Philosophy. 2017. Vol. 55. No. 5. P. 320-335.

Leo Tolstoy’s Moralism is a call for the purification of moral universals as the foundations of culture, in which there is no contradiction between the values of an individual life and the values of the social “world.” A “moralist preacher” must fulfill two main requirements. First, he must personally fulfill the principles of his teaching. Second, he must be absolutely sure that he speaks on behalf of the truth he knows. Otherwise, his preaching will be deceptive and will serve the destruction rather than creation of a moral culture. Lev Shestov rejects this pathos of preaching as incompatible with existential perception of the world. Shestov replaces “absolute morality” with the absolute of human individuality, but this absolute is incompatible with the universalism of cultural values.