Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, November 24, 2017

Was Mahatma Gandhi a philosopher? He would not have thought so himself. But I want to show that he was a model for philosophy in the philosophical subtlety of his accounts of non-violence and in his thinking on a vital kind of freedom. Gandhi was full of surprises: in his defence of concrete particularity in ethics when exceptionless rules cannot guide conduct; in his openness to views from other cultures; and in his exemplary response to criticism, which was welcomed, promulgated without being distorted, treated with disconcerting wit, and used to lead to a radical re-thinking of his own views.




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Of course, Gandhi (1869-1948) is known for his belief in non-violence, which included, but was by no means confined to, non-violent resistance to the British rulers of India. But it is less well-known that he rejected the non-violence he had heard of in India. Although the most important influence in his life was the Jain faith, on non-violence, he preferred the second most important influence – Leo Tolstoy. He thought, rightly or wrongly, that the Indian view he knew did not sufficiently mind someone else treading on a beetle, so long as one kept oneself pure by not treading on it oneself. Gandhi saw his early self as a votary of violence. It was the Russian Christian writer, Tolstoy, who converted Gandhi to non-violence, a fact that shows his openness to views from other cultures.

For this openness to views from elsewhere, Gandhi acknowledged the value of another Jain view – that ordinary humans have only partial knowledge, from which he concluded that truth must be sought in diverse quarters. He described non-violence as being, on Tolstoy's view, an ocean of compassion – one would not want anyone to tread on a beetle. But more than that, you should never hate your opponent. With his permission, Gandhi published Tolstoy's A Letter to a Hindoo (1909), which argued that millions of Indians were enslaved to a few thousand British only because, instead of internalising the law of love, they cooperated with the British in carrying out the violence on which their enslavement depended.


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"Imagine all the people"..........

#1 | Posted by lfthndthrds at 2017-11-24 07:35 PM | Reply

Gandhi was supposedly of the Hindu faith but he was obviously a Buddha or Awakened One.

#2 | Posted by donnerboy at 2017-11-24 07:39 PM | Reply

#2 - he was definitely Buddha-ish. But, Hindu has some similar views to Buddhism but with a bit of Confucius stirred in. I would say he was a model Hindu.

#3 | Posted by kudzu at 2017-11-25 08:12 AM | Reply

Answering the question, "Are you a Hindu?" Gandhi replied,

"Yes I am, I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew."


#4 | Posted by madscientist at 2017-11-26 03:02 PM | Reply


Gotta hand it to Gandhi, he pissed off all religious conservatives with one statement.

#5 | Posted by ClownShack at 2017-11-26 03:54 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Re #4

Answered just like an Awakened One would answer.

#6 | Posted by donnerboy at 2017-11-26 04:05 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

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