'The 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 Russians 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, transcience, and inevitable end. He probes various ideals (love, Nietzche'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.
An Eighth Day View:
The Meaning of Life (published in Russian in 1925) is a distillation of S. L. Franks bitter experience of the years of Revolution and post-Revolution exile. It is, quite simply, a book about the search for meaning in suffering. Translator Boris Jakim calls it the closest thing we have in the twenty-first century to the book of Job.
Frank begins with the understanding that, if we do not possess the meaning of life, we are like drowning men who have no way to get to shore. Only by understanding that meaning can we save ourselves and get to solid ground. But what is the meaning of life? How does one define it and how does one find it? Frank here considers the question both socio-politically and metaphysically. He immerses himself deeper and deeper into spiritual being before finally finding the answer: it is the place where mans soul touches Divinity, and it is Divinity that illuminates life with meaning. For Frank, the meaning of life is the indissoluble unity of perfect fulfillment and perfect clarity, the unity of light and Truth.
This book displays an extraordinary spiritual profundity rooted in personal experience and suffering. Boris Jakims masterful translation into English brings Franks remarkably powerful thought to a world still and always searching for meaning.