Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood . . .


Here’s a lengthy quotation from Vladimir Solovyov, the contemporary relevance or irrelevance of which you are welcome to ponder.

“Why, it will be asked, do I speak, with regard to the moral world, of the choice between two paths only? The reason is, that in spite of all the multiplicity of the forms and expressions of life, one path only leads to the life that we hope for and renders it eternal. All other paths, which at first seem so like it, lead in the opposite direction, fatally draw farther and farther away from it, and finally become merged together in the one path of eternal death.

“In addition to these two paths that differ in principle, some thinkers try to discover a third path, which is neither good nor bad, but natural or animal. Its supreme practical principle is best expressed by a German aphorism, which, however, was unknown both to Kant and to Hegel: Jedes Tierchen hat sein Plaisirchen.[Every little beast has its little pleasures.] This formula expresses an unquestionable truth, and only stands in need of amplification by another truth, equally indisputable: Allen Tieren fatal ist zu krepieren. [Every beast is fated to drop dead.] And when this necessary addition is made, the third path – that of animality made into a principle – is seen to be reduced to the second path of death.’ It is impossible for man to avoid the dilemma, the final choice between the two paths – of good and of evil. Suppose, indeed, deed, we decide to take the third, the animal path, which is neither good nor bad, but merely natural. It is natural for animals, just because animals do not decide anything, do not choose between this path and any other, but passively follow the only one upon which they have been placed by a will foreign to them. But when man actively decides to follow the path of moral passivity, he is clearly guilty of falsehood, wrong, and sin, and is obviously entering not upon the animal path, but upon that of the two human paths which proves in the end, if not at the beginning, to be the path of eternal evil and death.”

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