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Сравнительный анализ идей этики ненасилия Льва Толстого и Эриха Фромма в христианстве


Буряк Наталия Борисовна,

аспирант кафедры религиоведения философского факультета Киевского национального университета им. Тараса Шевченко,

ассистент кафедры социальной философии и философии образования Национального педагогического университета им. М. П. Драгоманова.


Comparative analysis of non-violence ideas of ethics by Leo Tolstoy and Erich Fromm in Christianity


Nataliia Buriak,

Graduate student, the Philosophical Faculty, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.


This article is devoted to the comparative analysis of the ethics of non-violence ideas in the works of Leo Tolstoy and Erich Fromm. The ideas of the progressive development of society in understanding the Russian philosopher and representative of neo-Freudianism were analyzed. As a consequence, the social, religious studies, and psychological aspects of human coexistence in society are being examined.

Keywords: Ethics, violence, Christianity, non-resistance, love.


The doctrine of non-violence is the essence of creativity of Russian writer and philosopher Leo Tolstoy. In his book "The Way of Life", he had formulated the foundations of the doctrine of non-violence, leading to the conclusion that it is unacceptable to hold the lives of people by violence, because it is not a valid means of solving problems. In the understanding of Leo Tolstoy violence coincides with evil, it is identified with the murder or the threat of murder. According to Leo Tolstoy, bringing violence means to subdue, to do what you do not want the one on whom violence is done. Thinking about the history of the world, he saw the changing of some other forms of violence in it. Therefore the thinker did not approve of the revolution. Leo Tolstoy considered untenable the argumentation, according to which violence can be justified in cases where it prevents bigger violence. The right on violence does not exist, it cannot be justified and substantiated. According to Leo Tolstoy, violence should be excluded from the social life. People respond violence for violence - the oppressed rise up in rebellion and create violence. Leo Tolstoy offered to oppose violence by non-violent means: not to participate in any kinds of the violence done by others. The thinker was naming forms of resistance, among them - protest, appeal to the conscience and the spiritual principle in human being. Leo Tolstoy offered a way of conscious and deliberate public refuse from violence. He came to the idea of ​​necessity of revival of the basic principles of the Christian religion - non-resistance to evil. The thesis of non-resistance to evil, rooted in the Christian and Buddhist doctrine, took a central place in the works of Leo Tolstoy[2]. In search of religious clarity Leo Tolstoy turned to the works of systematic theology. The widespread Catechism of that time of Metropolitan Filaret Drozdov, being a textbook instruction in the Orthodox faith till nowadays, served as a tool in his research. Although Leo Tolstoy barely managed to reconcile his ideas about faith with the principles above, but textbooks on dogma have not found a response in his heart. Between the faith, which he discovered in the life experience, and the fact that was offering by theology, he saw insurmountable disagreement. The New Testament scholar Heinrich Veynel considered the most important merit of Leo Tolstoy that he again made the "eternal question of life" as a central one that is rooted in the soul of people of all ages: "What is the result of my life?" Veynel respectfully draws his sight to the Leo Tolstoy, seeking an answer to a vital question. Sciences could not answer him, neither could philosophers. And he turned to theologians of his other churches to re-learn the faith. But they were powerless to help him. First of all he was pushed away by not rational thinking, but the fact that announcers of faith lived "not in faith and not by faith". He finally found what he was looking for from ordinary believers from among the simple people. The pointed path to God by Leo Tolstoy is a "full commitment to love and service for people". In similar way Albert Schweitzer admits the importance of Leo Tolstoy for reopening goal of the Christian world on the one hand and on the other hand he considers the false path which is offered by Leo Tolstoy. Albert Schweitzer says that Leo Tolstoy is in captivity of false installation. According to Albert Schweitzer, the ethical orientation of any person is positioned between the negation of peace and acceptance of the world. One pole of orientation he binds with Nietzsche, and the other one with Schopenhauer. While the majority of Protestant theologians drew attention to Leo Tolstoy in general only with apologetic intentions and went on in thinking about his dealings with Biblical texts, Albert Schweitzer paid tribute to Leo Tolstoy in his course "From Reimarus to Verde. The history of research of life of Jesus" on July 29, 1908[3].

Leo Tolstoy constantly turns his sight to Christ, but not to the historical Jesus. The collection of interviews from the Gospels of John and Matthew was incomparably more important for Leo Tolstoy than biographical details or history of childhood of Jesus. He appealed to the biographical data only in order to preserve the historicity, the historical accuracy of the events associated with Christ. According to Leo Tolstoy, the interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is embracing His teaching with mysterious fog. Jesus embodied an essential relation to the world for all the people, comprehended, mastered and implemented it as the basis of his life in the unity of acceptance and understanding of faith. A generalization that Jesus announced, is the requirement to combine the basics of all religions for the aim of humanity in general. Leo Tolstoy does not allow any doubts as to the paramount importance of the image of Christ, and this is not only because of His teachings. Christ is highly involved in the "divine" that is present in every human being. He therefore inevitably becomes an archetype for the people[1].

Non-resistance to evil was understood by Leo Tolstoy and his followers as a set of measures to neutralize the violence of state power: the refusal to participate in everything that supports the government. According to Leo Tolstoy, love is a necessary condition of human life and its fundamental law. The manifestation of the law of love is non-resistance. The law of love is an expression of the very essence of Christianity. Leo Tolstoy examines violence in social life linking it with the government power and its structures such as the army, the courts, prisons. However, it appears that such structures are needed, as they provide the social order and the safety of people lives. Therefore, a certain degree of violence as an external influence and coercion to order cannot be completely excluded.

The idea of ​​non-violence of Leo Tolstoy has been further developed in one of the areas of Western philosophy - Neofreydysm, which is represented by Erich Fromm. According to Erich Fromm, morbid satisfaction of needs is realized by means of violence, subordination of other people to yourself. As a constructive way of meeting this need thinker examines love. The expression of subordination and absence of integrity he considers authoritarian conscience. The thinker opposes to it the humanistic conscience as an expression of human integrity, the purpose of which is fertility. As the main types of unproductive orientations Erich Fromm considers aggressively taking possession exploitative character. On the basis of constructiveness and destructiveness the thinker identifies three types of cultures. In the first type of hostility and violence appear rarely, the repressive institutions are almost absent. The children are raising up in the spirit of friendship and cooperation. The main idea of ​​this type of community is collectivism. In interpersonal relationship the trust prevails greatly. In general in this culture dominates the mood of comfortability. The second type is non-destructive but aggressive society. There is no friendship there. It is penetrated with male aggressiveness, however, it does not differ with excessive hostility. Finally, the destructive societies. They are aggressive, they have destructive tendencies, both inside and outside of ethno-cultural communities. They are rampant with hostility and rivalry[7].

If the wealth of society was in line with the real needs of all its members, there would be no problem of its distribution. Everyone could take part of the social product in accordance to your desire or needs; thus there would be no need for any regulation, except the pure technical distribution side. However, with the exception of primitive societies in human history up to the present time such position has never existed. The needs were always exceeding the total social product, and therefore, it was necessary to adjust its distribution, to establish the needs of what amount of people and what exact layers of society should be satisfied most fully and which social categories of people should be satisfied for less than they would like. In the most highly developed societies of the past this issue was solving mainly by the use of force. Certain classes had the power that allowed them to appropriate the best part of the social product and assign to the other classes more heavy and dirty work, as well as a smaller share of the social product. Coercion was often carried out by a public or religious tradition that was represented by such a powerful inner strength of mental effects on people that often there was no need of threat of physical violence. According to Erich Fromm, human behavior in accordance with the needs of society directs a social character, which unlike the individual characters of different people represents the essence of temperament compound common to the majority of the members of a given culture. The social character forms by the influence of the socio-economic structure of the society members of the same culture. Erich Fromm defines the social character as the main core of the structure of characters of most members of the group, which is developed in a result of a fundamental experience and lifestyle mutual for the group. Due to the social nature a man wants to do what he must do. Erich Fromm believes that all existing types of societies in history do not meet the real needs of man. According to Erich Fromm repressive society displays itself in the manipulation of consciousness and as the displacement into the unconscious undesirable from a social point of view aspirations, both negative and positive. In this regard, Erich Fromm speaks about the "social unconscious", caused by the action of "social filter". The social filter, according to Erich Fromm, includes language, thoughts logic and social taboos. The symbolism of the unconscious Fromm connects with the socio-cultural preassigned inner-psychic conflicts. Genesis also means involvement in the existing one. Erich Fromm concludes that modern society is focused on the possession. One symptom of this possession, in his opinion, is the overuse of the verb "to have" in speech practice. This way of existence is forming as a result of social repression in relation to man. At the time of installation on the possession the sense of superiority is formed on other people - in the ability to use violence. At the time of installation for existence the love is being developed as a mean of unity and solidarity. As the fundamental kind of love that is lying underlies all others, Erich Fromm distinguishes brother love, implying a sense of responsibility, care, respect and understanding of the other person and the desire to help him in his life beneath this feeling. Brotherly love is a love for all people, it is typical of the lack of exclusivity for it. According to Erich Fromm, "if I developed the ability to love, I would love my neighbors... If I take another person superficially, I see mainly the differences that divides us. If I penetrate into his essence, then I will see our community, feel our brotherhood"[4]. According to Erich Fromm, modern man relationship with his brothers acquired the character of alienation and hostility. Modern industrial culture has spawned a market type of a social nature, which is inherent in a distorted sense of love. In today's society, where the pragmatic orientation prevails and where the material success is the basic value of love, and human relationships follow the laws of the market. The main purpose of market is sale and exchange. Man sells not only products, but himself and feels like a good himself. According to Erich Fromm, with the development of market relations the specific links of one individual to another lost human meaning, and they have acquired the kind of manipulation[5]. According to Erich Fromm the implementation of existential needs is possible in a new type of culture, that is achieving by transforming into humanist industrialism in which social order is submitted to the development objectives of the human ability to love and to love unselfishly. Humanization of modern society is not possible without the approval of the principle of non-violence in it. Erich Fromm rightly considered violence as a sign of an unhealthy society, identifying violence with superior relationships, hostility, aggression. Violence is destructive because it assumes exploitation, manipulation, it is associated with the desire to possess, to have, to own. Violence within the meaning of Erich Fromm is based on a sense of powerlessness in relation to God, to nature and society. This attitude of submission becomes the basis for the formation of sadomasochistic personality. Modern society influences people simultaneously in two directions: one becomes independent, self-confident individual, but lonely and isolated. Violence creates the pseudo-human impersonal world around itself. If this goal is not achieved, then the violence loses its social significance. In general violence alienates people from each other. Genuine unity promotes non-violence, so it is constructive. The totally unexpected opportunity opens here to counter the destructive violence with the help of the mass of the principle of positive self-realization. This principle opens up the possibility to contribute to the formation of civilization before a man. With this kind of people's self-realization a man classifies himself as a kind of eternity[6].

Thus, having viewed the idea of ​​non-violence, which develops in the works of Erich Fromm and Leo Tolstoy that are belonged to different cultures - Western and, accordingly, Russian - you can draw the following conclusions. Each of these thinkers has its own point of view on non-violence. So, Leo Tolstoy examines non-violence in the context of social life and Erich Fromm - as the basis for determining the type of culture. Non-violence is opposed to violence, which Leo Tolstoy considers unacceptable and Erich Fromm connects this to gain market type of culture. Both thinkers believe non-violence as the way of finding the unity of the people. According to Leo Tolstoy, non-violence requires cooperation, from the point of view of Erich Fromm - the friendliness and cooperation. Background teachings on non-violence these thinkers are finding in the ideological bases of the Eastern religions such as Taoism and Buddhism. For Russian culture of non-violence ideas are rooted in Christianity. The main manifestation of non-violence and its basic principle the thinkers consider the love. However, Erich Fromm distinguishes distorted forms of love from true love - unselfish love. Leo Tolstoy and Erich Fromm agree that non-violence is essential to human life and promotes its humanization.




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Поступила в редакцию 01.09.2016 г.

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