Prokopchuk Yury

Religious and philosophical synthesis of L. Tolstoy and A. Huxley

Prokopchuk Yury (2019) "Religious and philosophical synthesis of L. Tolstoy and A. Huxley ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2019, vol. 83, pp. 47-64 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI201983.47-64


This article makes an attempt of a comparative analysis of foundations of religious and philosophical ideas of the Russian and English writers. It discusses the ideas of Tolstoy and Huxley about religion and the religious truth, the unity of God, world and man, about time and eternity, the features of their understanding the divine basis. The analysis draws on the texts of the later period of Tolstoy’s work, including the collections of thoughts of the writer (“Circle of Reading”, “For Every Day”, “Path of Life”), his diaries and letters, as well as Huxley’s texts of the 1940s — 1960s (the novels “Time Must Have a Stop”, “The Island”, the collection “Perennial Philosophy”, his essayistic texts “Doors of Perception”, “Heaven and Hell”). The article traces a similarity in the approaches of the two classics which manifested itself in a specifi c religious and philosophical synthesis based on addressing traditions of the eastern and western thought. It is possible to speak about a specifi c extraconfessional approach of Tolstoy and Huxley, who made use of Hindu scriptures, Taoist literature, Sufism, Christian mystics of the Middle Ages and Modern Time, the Quakers, etc. The idea of the unity of man and the world, of all the living, played a prominent role in forming the shape of Tolstoy’s and Huxley’s worldviews. This was one of the key ideas in Tolstoy’s religious and philosophical work. Perceiving the identity of the source of life in people and in everything living, a specifi c perception of the Hindu tat tvam asi (the identity of Atman and Brahman), was expressed by Tolstoy both in his diaries and his literary works. The same idea made up the foundation of the “PerennialPhilosophy” by Huxley. The two thinkers followed a rational approach to the sources and believed in the existence of the single religious truth and the possibility for every person of assimilating it. Tolstoy and Huxley emphasised the role of the personal religious experience, the movement of the person towards internalising the truth, whereas such factors as specifi c confession, theological details, belonging to a certain cultural and religious traditions were seen as less important, compared with the approach of the believer to the religious ideal.


Leo Tolstoy’s philosophy, Tolstoy of the later period, Tolstoyism, Aldous Huxley’s worldview, Perennial Philosophy, philosophical and religious synthesis, tat tvam asi


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Information about the author

Prokopchuk Yury

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in History;
Student status: Graduate student;
Place of study: State Museum of L. N. Tolstoy; 11/8 Prechistenka, Moscow, 119034, Russian Federation;
Post: Head of excursion and methodical service;
ORCID: 0000-0001-9969-4804;
Email: prokopchuk17@mail.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The article was prepared with the financial support of the Russian Foundation for basic research, project 19-011-00764 A.