Tolstoy was wrong?

Tolstoy Art Circle Manila is an organization dedicated to debunking Leo Tolstoy’s Theory of Art as an infection. In the last years of his life, the great Russian novelist wrote his aesthetics theory in “What is Art?” In this work, Leo Tolstoy claimed that true art is an infection where the artist infects the receiver with his feelings, and the greater the infection the greater the work of art. He wrote,

As, thanks to man’s capacity to express thoughts by words, every man may know all that has been done for him in the realms of thought by all humanity before his day, and can in the present, thanks to this capacity to understand the thoughts of others, become a sharer in their activity and can himself hand on to his contemporaries and descendants the thoughts he has assimilated from others, as well as those which have arisen within himself; so, thanks to man’s capacity to be infected with the feelings of others by means of art, all that is being lived through by his contemporaries is accessible to him, as well as the feelings experienced by men thousands of years ago, and he has also the possibility of transmitting his own feelings to others.

If people lacked this capacity to receive the thoughts conceived by the men who preceded them and to pass on to others their own thoughts, men would be like wild beasts… And if men lacked this other capacity of being infected by art, people might be almost more savage still, and, above all, more separated from, and more hostile to, one another.

This work of Leo Tolstoy actually puts even his great masterpiece, War and Peace, in an inferior position among the artistic legacies of the world. How could he be so wrong? Taking a cue from the German philosopher, Karl Popper, who theorized as well that all the knowledge that we can achieve is to say what knowledge is a mistake, the Tolstoy Art Circle Manila, is now on a quest to find true art and to show how Tolstoy could be wrong. Thus, the Tolstoy Art Circle Manila is established with the thrust of debunking Leo Tolstoy’s artistic theory, failing in such, it might find Tolstoy to be right; but if it succeeds, it might discover the true meaning of art.

Author: Leon de Pola

Semiotician by profession. Philosopher by vocation.

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