Further consideration on “Tolstoy’s Choice”

Dear Philosophers,

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “choice” presented by Tolstoy in My Confession. I am presently stuck with the position that there really is no answer that has especially strong justification. Here’s the puzzle for which I am currently seeking an answer…

Let’s suppose Tolstoy is right; that there’s only two choices when deciding the meaning of life, which are reason OR faith. (We’re taking his point to also include the definitions of both reason and faith, e.g. Reason is the negation of life, and faith is the negation of reason. This properly excludes the possibility of choosing faith AND reason.

So being left with a choice between the two, what guidance is one to use to make the “best” decision? It seems that the criteria for determining the quality of either one is entirely relative to the person! Some find far more value in the security and promises of some rewarding afterlife, while others value the full use of the gift of reason as more of a moral imperative than anything else, making abandoning/suspending reason the highest “sin.”

It seems that we are left in a sort of Kierkegaardian “leap of faith” moment where we basically just jump and hope that something’s on the other side. But even he fully acknowledges that this is subjective, and could not be justified by objective or definitive means.

So where do we turn for guidance? How do we make the choice between the two in deciding which is more important? What justifications can be appealed to when choosing between faith and reason?

Yours in Contemplation,
Kierkegaard

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About facedownphilosophy

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