In the bowels of Christian culture, the question of resisting evil by force is one of the most complex questions of religious consciousness. It includes not only the cardinal problem of ethics, philosophy of law and philosophy of religion, but also one of the most important antinomies of Orthodox theology – love of enemies and violence.
The complexity of solving the problem is due, above all, to the fact that the New Testament, on the one hand, does not allow the use of force in the fight against evil, and on the other hand, there is no direct prohibition. Furthermore, as Metropolitan Anthony (Hrapovitsky) points out, “no ecclesiastical definition or prayer of the Church gives an affirmative answer to the question: Can a Christian, while remaining a Christian, tolerate violence in pursuit of good ends?” [1, 125].
It is not difficult to understand that in times of war and acute social conflicts this topic is sharply updated both before the whole society and before the individual. But even in the most “prosperous” times in public life, recurrences of well-known phenomena called evil are not uncommon. The need to fight evil at the social, state and personal levels determines the need for constant philosophical reflection on various aspects of this process.
Such an attempt to philosophically comprehend the moral justification of violence in the fight against evil was made by the famous Russian philosopher I.A. Ilin.
In his work “For resistance to evil by force”, I.A. Ilin asks questions of acute social significance in all periods of public life: how should we fight evil? Is it possible to stand against evil by force at all? Can force, even at the state level, be used to fight evil?
I.A. Ilyin strongly opposes the theory of L.N. Tolstoy for not resisting evil with violence. Considering the concept of good and evil from a philosophical point of view, I.A. Ilin came to the conclusion that coercion and force in resisting evil are permissible within certain limits and under certain circumstances. I.A. Ilin does not justify their application, but believes that it is necessary when all other means have been exhausted.
Choosing the path to fight evil for everyone is a moral issue of personal duty. It is up to the individual to decide how to proceed. But to build philosophical summaries on the basis of each case would be completely wrong, and here L.N. Tolstoy is deeply mistaken. Of course, there are specific situations when it is better for the moral health of both the individual and society to resist evil with love and goodness, not retaliating with a blow, but there are other situations where again in the interest and of the individual and of society it is better to resort to coercion, to violence. The philosophical answer to the question is that depending on the specific situation there must be different answers to it.
Of course, I.A. Ilin perfectly understood the above and wrote that the fight against evil is, above all, moral education, spiritual impact. Therefore, the use of force and coercion is a manifestation of a compromise, which recognizes that force is not the main method of correcting evil, but still there is no other way out. I.A. Elin asks, “Should I fight evil through physical resistance if flattery, persuasion, evidence, or turning to shame and conscience are active or even more effective?” “The answer,” writes IA Ilin, “is indisputable: of course, it does not follow” [2, 40]. I.A. Ilin considers other formulations of similar questions. But all this, of course, are trivial answers. He writes that “the correct formulation of the problem gives a completely different formula to the question, namely: if I see a real crime or a stream of real crimes and I do not have the opportunity to stop them through spiritual influence, and I am truly connected by love and will with the beginning of the divine good not only in me, but also outside me – should I wash my hands, give in and give the villain the freedom to blaspheme and destroy spiritually, or am I obliged to intervene and stop the crime with physical resistance, consciously going to danger, suffering, death and, perhaps, even to diminish and degenerate my personal righteousness? ” [2, 40-41].
IA Ilin discusses the role of the state in solving the problem of opposing evil. He believes that in the fight against evil it is possible and even necessary to rely on the state machine. The sharp critical statements of I.A. Ilina against Tolstoyism are related to the fact that Tolstoy’s ideology helped to downplay the role of the state in social life.
According to IA Ilin, humanity becomes wiser in suffering. Ignorance leads him to trials and torments, in torment the soul is purified and enlightened, of the enlightened a look is given to the source of wisdom – the obvious.
But the first condition for wisdom is honesty with oneself and before the face of God.
Can a person striving for moral perfection resist evil with strength and sword? Can a person who believes in God, accepts His universe and his place in the world, not resist evil with sword and strength? Here is the twofold question that requires a new formulation and a new solution today. Especially today, first of all, as never before, it would be groundless and fruitless to solve the problem of evil without experience of real evil, and our generation has been given an experience of evil with special force as never before. So long the maturing process of evil manages today to free itself from all internal divisions and external obstacles, to discover its face, to spread its wings, to express its goals, to gather its strength, to realize its ways and means; moreover, it has openly legitimized itself, formulated its dogmas and canons, praised its more undisguised nature, and revealed its spiritual nature to the world. Nothing equivalent and equally vicious in human history has yet seen or, in any case, does not remember. Such true evil was first given to the human spirit with such frankness.
This question must be posed and resolved philosophically, as a question that requires mature spiritual experience, thoughtful staging and impartial decision. For this, it is necessary above all to abandon premature and hasty conclusions about our personality, its past actions and future paths.
The whole question is deep, delicate and complex, every simplification here is harmful and full of false conclusions and theories, any ambiguity is dangerous both theoretically and practically, every cowardice degenerates the formula of the question, every bias degenerates the formula of the answer.
The thoughts of I.A. Ilin on the nature of good and evil: in human life there is no and cannot be “good” or “evil” that would have a purely bodily nature.
But if the current location of good and evil is precisely in the inner, spiritual peace of man, it means that the fight against evil and overcoming evil can and must be achieved in internal efforts and the transformation will be precisely through inner achievement. The present overcoming of evil is accomplished through a profound transformation of spiritual blindness into spiritual vision, and the negative enmity into the grace of the receiving love. We need to see spiritually not only enmity but also love. It is necessary for love to burn not only spiritual blindness, but also spiritual sight.
Speaking about the nature of good and evil, Ivan Alexandrovich developed a situation about power and evil: not every use of force against the “dissenter” is violence. The abuser speaks to his victim: “you are a means to my interest and my lust”, “you are not an autonomous spirit, but a living thing subordinate to me”, “you are in the power of my arbitrariness”. On the contrary, a person who creates coercion or interception of the spirit by persons does not make the coerced a means of his own interest and lust, does not deny his autonomous spirituality, does not offer him to become a submissive animate thing, does not make him a victim of his own arbitrariness. But he seems to be saying to him: “look, you are driving yourself carelessly, wrongly, insufficiently, stupidly and facing fateful incorrigibility”, or: “you are humiliated, you are violently mad, you are wasting your spirituality, you are obsessed of evil, you are insane and you perish and perish – stop, here I put an end to all this! ” And thus he does not destroy the spirituality of the madman, but begins his self-restraint and self-construction; he does not humiliate his dignity, but forces him to stop his self-destruction; it does not erase its autonomy, but demands its restoration; he does not “force” his “convictions,” but attacks his blindness and erases unprincipledness from his consciousness; it does not strengthen his anti-love, but puts an end to his endless hatred. The abuser attacks, the interceptor repulses.
In fact, evil can and does manifest itself not only in the form of physical violence and related physical torture. It would be naive to assume that the villain’s activities are limited to physical assault, confiscation of property, injury, rape and murder.
Violence itself, in all its external cruelty, carries its poison not so much on the body as on the spirit, murder itself, in all its tragic incorrigibility, is intended not so much for the killed as for the survivors.
That is why we should recognize that external violence manifests evil and reinforces its action, but evil is not defined at all and is not limited to external violence.
According to I.A. Ilyin’s man is called to moral perfection. Performing violent actions in the fight against evil, he is obliged to think about purity of mind.
Ivan Alexandrovich Ilin writes: if the human soul is pure, then its deed will be true, regardless of its apparent discrepancy with the laws of righteousness, and vice versa: even the most righteous deeds of the impure soul – will be untrue, wrong.
Man, you respond with force and sword to the aggressiveness of the villain, you can not “go out of spiritual balance and moral pliroma – and in this evil is always provided a certain visibility of the inner, spiritual-spiritual” victory “; in this sense, evil is always “there is success.”
The right and pure motive for the struggle is the first guarantee of its dignity: the level at which it is conducted, the measure to which it continues, and the success it will achieve.
But in order to fight the villains, a person needs not only an objective source and motive, but also correct vision: in order to truly distinguish and see the true evil of the fighter, purification is necessary in order to be able to set goals in his work and the faithful. means for their implementation, as well as to correctly select the necessary and effective measures of resistance.
The purification of the soul is necessary no less after the end of the struggle. And above all, to neutralize and extinguish in itself all sorts of traces of unnoticed infection.
The need for spiritual and moral purification is directly foretold and established in the Gospel, and especially for those who dedicate themselves to the fight against other people’s evil and other people’s evil deeds. He who judges, he must be ready to judge himself, and this means that he must always judge himself as he himself condemned the villain. The measure of judicial competence is determined by the measure of the creator of self-purification.
Thus, getting acquainted with the work of this truly remarkable thinker and philosopher, I came to the conclusion that he was a man for whom the future of Russia was not indifferent, was indifferent to him and the spiritual life of the people and is not important whether it is recognized or rejected. “Now, at the age of 65,” Ilin writes, “I draw conclusions and write book after book. I have printed some of them in German, but in order to translate what is written into Russian. Today I write only in Russian. I write and accumulate books, one after another, and I give them for reading to my friends and like-minded people. I am not interested in emigrating from such searches, and I do not have Russian publishers. doom; and if neither God nor Russia needs them, then I don’t need them myself. Because I live only for Russia. “
In our time we are obliged to say a belated “thank you” to Ivan Alexandrovich Ilin, to the one who, amid vicious attacks and public insults, believed that time would pass, we would be gone, and everything would be revealed and understood. – who in his conscience sought justice and who, fearing this justice, insinuated it. The objective and enduring truth of Ilin’s decision to enlighten everyone and help find the right direction in the fight against the manifold evil that is growing in our world. Elin’s greatness is not only in the fact that he reaches the limits of the possibilities of rational philosophy in studying the antinomy of Christian culture, but also in the fact that he clearly sees this limit without claiming to overcome it. Ivan Alexandrovich Ilin dedicates his book “On the Resistance to Evil by Force” to white warriors, bearers of the Orthodox sword, volunteers of the Russian state weight. Today, as in the last century, its high and noble, truly Orthodox principles are necessary for the assimilation of those whose service presupposes an armed struggle against evil and its bearers.
1. Russian philosophy. Small encyclopedic dictionary. – M., 1995.
2. Ilyin IA The path to the obvious. M., 1993.
3. Ilyin IA About resisting evil by force. M., 1995.
Source: Plesennikov DA, Bulletin of Young Scientists, Ed. State educational institution of higher professional education “Gorno-Altai State University” (in Russian), https://e-lib.gasu.ru/vmu/arhive/2006/01/1.shtml.