I'd like to point out that I have basically no knowledgeable background in philosophy, but this question has been troubling me as of late, and I need an informed take on this.
I was watching a video by Dr. Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto (who is quite more well known as of late) on the psyche that motivates school shooters. It can be watched here. He spoke about Leo Tolstoy's spiritual crisis, which he wrote about in A Confession, where he slumped into a deep depression and at one point concluded that the most logical and bravest thing a man can do is commit suicide and murder, from what I gathered. He later realized, which recovered him, is that faith in something is the ultimate meaning in life, and the key to not cause man's fall into despair.
This deeply troubled me. This was an extremely clever person, and far more philosophically in tuned than I, basically saying that without some kind of religion or belief in what is not concrete that man will slump into hopelessness and prefer to be dead. I desperately want to label him as flatly wrong and ridiculous, but I cannot deny his reputation. Carl Jung is another example.
From what I've gathered, it seems that very clever people, more informed on philosophical matters than I, have concluded that life is meaningless, or meaningless unless I believe in the infinite. This is extremely depressing, and I desperately want to believe this is not true.
I suppose I am in fear of being 'indoctrinated' in this 'correct view of the universe' and slump into some depression that will deprive me my ability to attain my goals via an existential crisis.
Is it really true that life is this bleak? I know this sounds naive, but I'm uninformed on this subject?
In my view, I've thought along William James's lines, that nihilism is a byproduct of depression and not some arrogant declaration of understanding of how the universe works, and I still do -- but it still bothers me that people more knowledgeable than I can say these things are rational -- it's deeply depressing.
Do I need faith not to slump into nihilistic despair? Is life as tragic as it's being painted out to be by these people?
I think I’ve failed to identify one particular question of mine as well. The first part of this question above the addendum has been answered satisfactorily for me, but the following is something I desire more thoughts on:
Is no view of the world any more legitimate than the other? Are Tolstoy’s beliefs any more valid than my own, even if I have less of a background in this philosophy? Or are they merely an interpretation of the world based on their own circumstances, as humans require explanations to things. If so, how can anyone value the opinion of a celebrated mind’s view of the world if it’s entirely subjective, and thus worthless to universal applications? If our interpretation of the world depends entirely on what has happened to us, what good is there in wanting to know what someone’s world view is?
In my view, Tolstoy became depressed due to things not apparent to him the time (I believe it was cognitive dissonance between what he did and what he preached, such as owning slaves and living as a high brow elite up until his late years) and then tried to identify his depression with his malarkey in A Confession. His freedom was found from going back to living humbly, which was what he needed all that time but got lucky from his mental ramblings. Thus, his mood effected his thoughts which effected his world view and interpretations. How can someone identify with this if he couldn’t even directly identify his cause of depression?
How are his beliefs at this time not discarded as foolish? Those who would believe would have to be depressed and hopeless from external factors in the first place. Why do we give it any credence? Why is he celebrated? Can any view of existentialism be justified? How is it not just all subjective rubbish?
I've added a followup question here which I think is a realization of my true question.