Tolstoy on Art

The novelist Leo Tolstoy distinguished science from art exactly along intellectual/emotional lines. Science, according to him, is the transmission of thought, art the transmission of feeling. Tolstoy was highly critical of what he called the ‘counterfeit’ art and artists of the Europe of his day, because it looked only to the production of pleasure. It failed to concern itself with the clear and sincere expression of the individual’s emotions, and thus it failed to express what Tolstoy thought true art should express: the religious attitudes of an age. He was also suspicious of views of art that saw it as appealing to our rational natures, for he believed that artists are not to be valued for the ideas that they can communicate. Their role is not to make us smarter, but more humane, Tolstoy argued.

From Basic Issues in Aesthetics by Marcia Muelder Eaton, pg. 23

This quote is significant for me for more reasons that I have time to explain. But I do think this explains in part why I love movies like Bella and Saving Private Ryan, because they make me more humane.

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