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From Wittgenstein in 1931:

“Tolstoy: a thing’s significance (importance) lies in its being something everyone can understand. — That is both true and false. What makes a subject hard to understand — if its something significant and important — is not that before you can understand it you need to be specially trained in abstruse matters, but the contrast between understanding the subject and what most people want to see. Because of this the very things which are most obvious may become the hardest of all to understand. What has to be overcome is a difficulty having to do with the will, rather than with the intellect.”

The first thing of Tolstoy’s I read was The Kingdom of God is Within You, in which he advocates what might be termed Christian anarchism, where the instruments of force in society, represented by the functions of government and its inherently violent existence, are abolished, to be replaced by something akin to a Christian utopia. True to his word, Tolstoy’s meaning is not difficult to grasp. When Christ says to turn the other cheek, that is what he means. These words are not an ideal, as Reinhold Niebuhr (and a great many others) would have it, that we set before us as a guide, but a prescription that can and should be realized. 

As I think about why this simple argument is not seriously considered, it seems as though the problem is neither inaccessibility (philosophically speaking) nor willfulness (as Wittgentstein claims), but a problem of vision.

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