The Meaning of Life

Feast of St Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist
The Meaning of Life by S. L. Frank; translated by Boris Jakim

Frank__Meaning_of_Life_Square.jpgTHE MASS of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” writes Thoreau in Walden, and the great Russian philosopher Frank pinpoints the cause: our fear that life is meaningless. “For a moment we can evade this question [of meaning], chase it away from ourselves, but the next moment it is . . . inexorably present before us, and our soul, often in deathly torment, inquires, ‘What is one to live for?’” Writing in 1925, Frank addresses the despair of his fellow Russian exiles, especially intellectuals who saw the Bolsheviks crush their dream of a new revolutionary order that would “assure the kingdom of justice and happiness on earth and thus bring true meaning into life.” Yet his inquiry swiftly expands to that unease which permeates every human endeavor, our unanswered yearnings in the face of life’s boredom, transience, and inevitable end. He probes various ideals (love, Nietzsche’s unrestrained freedom, moral perfection, life itself) that seemingly give life meaning, only to conclude in each case that “this too is not enough.” Only by touching the reality of the Divine—by participating directly in God through theosis—can we find the meaning we intuitively seek. A former socialist and Jewish convert to Orthodox Christianity, Frank speaks to disillusioned skeptics and atheists with an unflinching candor that never belittles doubt. The rare clarity of his vision resonates in the mind and heart, long after the final page.

136 pp. paper $25.00

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  • commented 2017-11-17 09:03:04 -0600
    Interesting that he was a friend of Nikolai Berdyaev, a Russian philosopher who was taught by Dostoevsky’s good friend, Philosopher and mystic Vladimir Solovyev. Solovyev wrote the book on Theosis, “Godmanhood.” Solovyev also wanted to join the three great Christian traditions back together again (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant).