At that moment it meant nothing to him who might be standing over him, or what was said of him; he was only glad that people were standing near him and only wished that they would help him and bring him back to life, which seemed to him so beautiful now that he had today learned to understand it so differently.
The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the greater the number of people he is connected with, the more power he has over other people, the more obvious is the predestination and inevitability of his every action.
The subject of history is the life of peoples and of humanity. To catch and pin down in words--that is, to describe directly the life, not only of humanity, but even of a single people, appears to be impossible.
To us, it is incomprehensible that millions of Christian men killed and tortured each other because Napoleon was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England's policy was astute or the Duke of Oldenburg was wronged. We cannot grasp what connection such circumstances have the with the actual fact of slaughter and violence: why because the Duke was wronged, thousands of men from the other side of Europe killed and ruined the people of Smolensk and Moscow and were killed by them.
There are people who, on meeting a successful rival, no matter in what, are at once disposed to turn their backs on everything good in him, and to see only what is bad. There are people, on the other hand, who desire above all to find in that lucky rival the qualities by which he has outstripped them, and seek with a throbbing ache at heart only what is good.
All the stories and descriptions of that time without exception peak only of the patriotism, self-sacrifice, despair, grief, and heroism of the Russians. But in reality it was not like that...The majority of the people paid no attention to the general course of events but were influenced only by their immediate personal interests.
At moments of departure and a change of life, people capable of reflecting on their actions usually get into a serious state of mind. At these moments they usually take stock of the past and make plans for the future.
A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally both in mind and body as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world and therefore, as an Englishman, always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German's self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth -- science -- which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
In quiet and untroubled times it seems to every administrator that it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule is kept going, and in this consciousness of being indispensable every administrator finds the chief reward of his labor and efforts. While the sea of history remains calm the ruler-administrator in his frail bark, holding on with a boat hook to the ship of the people and himself moving, naturally imagines that his efforts move the ship he is holding on to. But as soon as a storm arises and the sea begins to heave and the ship to move, such a delusion is no longer possible. The ship moves independently with its own enormous motion, the boat hook no longer reaches the moving vessel, and suddenly the administrator, instead of appearing a ruler and a source of power, becomes an insignificant, useless, feeble man.
The religious superstition is encouraged by means of the institution of churches, processions, monuments, festivities....The so-called clergy stupefy the masses....They befog the people and keep them in an eternal condition of stupefaction
And all people live, Not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people.
True science investigates and brings to human perception such truths and such knowledge as the people of a given time and society consider most important. Art transmits these truths from the region of perception.
In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.
To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can't eat it.
All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.
More Leo Tolstoy Quotations (Based on Topics)
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