January 16th, 2009

Marx Brothers - wonderful evening

I made this post because the combination of circumstances dictated that I would.

Well, I've finally finished reading War and Peace. It turned out to be, at bottom, a 1400-page treatise on determinism. I feel it only fair to warn those of you who may be interested in reading it. The characters are good, the writing is good, it's easy to read, and there are some interesting ideas along the way. But ultimately, the point is that free will exists only as a kind of necessary unknown factor without which we could not call ourselves human, but has no meaning; ultimately the point is that everything done by anybody was predestined by God from the dawn of time (or rather outside of time), and no one could ever have acted any differently than they did. Especially not Napoleon, which is what makes him the most odious of all. Apparently.

I will also add, though of course this is entirely my own opinion, that Tolstoy is a thoroughly mediocre philosopher. His arguments, when they aren't the same ones that have been advanced for centuries, are almost irrelevant; his metaphors are mostly complete nonsense; and even when he makes a valid point, he often does so by proofs which are completely inscrutable. Dostoevsky made a better argument for determinism in five or ten pages of Notes From Underground -- and Dostoevsky didn't even believe in it.

I think it may be time for some lighter reading.