Leo Tolstoy: From Knowledge to Wisdom

Dernière mise à jour : 20 févr. 2021

January 1

Better to know a few things which are good and necessary than many things which are useless and mediocre.

The difference between real material poison and intellectual poison is that most material poison is disgusting to the taste, but intellectual poison, which takes the form of cheap newspapers or bad books, can unfortunately sometimes be attractive.


January 9

Knowledge is real knowledge only when it is acquired by the efforts of your intellect, not by memory.

A thought can advance your life in the right direction only when it answers questions which were asked by your soul. A thought which was first borrowed from someone else and then accepted by your mind and memory does not really much influence your life, and sometimes leads you in the wrong direction.

Read less, study less, but think more. Learn, both from your teachers and from the books which you read, only those things which you really need and which you really want to know.


January 17

Live for your soul, and without trying or even under­standing that you’re doing it, you will contribute to the improvement of society.

It would be nice if wisdom had such a quality that it could flow from one man who is full of wisdom to another man who has no wisdom, just as with two connected vessels water flows from one vessel to the other until the water level is the same in both of them. The problem is that to obtain wisdom, you must make an independent, serious effort of your own.

Improve your own soul, and be confident that only in so doing can you contribute to the improvement of the larger society of which you are part.

Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (I. E. Repin, 1887)

January 18

We live a senseless life, contrary to the understanding of life by the wisest people of all times. This happens because our young generations are educated in the wrong way — they are taught different sciences but they are not taught the meaning of life.

The only real science is the knowledge of how a person should live his life. And this knowledge is open to everyone.


February 5

All events, whether in the lives of human individuals, or human societies, have their beginnings in thought. There­ fore, to fully understand other people and other societies, we must look beyond pre