Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gandhi and the Dialectic Process of Nonviolence

"I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill. I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."
-Mohandas Gandhi

I was reading something recently that discussed different ways of knowing truth, or coming to an understanding/decision about what one will believe to be true. The article looked at several different "truth finding" techniques or mediums. One such technique was rhetoric—not the art of rhetoric, but the setting/environment. The idea being that when rhetoric clashes with different rhetoric (in a courtroom, for instance) the truth comes into focus (at least to a greater degree): "skilled adversaries trying to be persuasive will generate powerful light on the truth." This process is, of course, an example of dialectic discourse: a thesis opposed by an antithesis, merging into synthesis (which, hopefully, is closer to truth than either the thesis or antithesis on its own).

The reason I bring this up here (as random as it seems) is that the author used Gandhi as an example of this technique. He argued that Gandhi was a proponent of active nonviolence because he viewed reconciliation as a way to achieve synthesis between the two sides of a conflict. In other words, it was the most "truthful" way to resolve difference — a path that would actually lead humanity forward into greater reality: "Gandhi advocated nonviolence in large part to avoid succumbing to the temptation to destroy one's opponents and thus remove the creative tension so crucial to the dialectic process."

I find this interesting, for though I'm incredibly committed to nonviolent resistance for multiple ethical reasons (and believe that Gandhi was too), I like the idea that it's also the path for those of us seeking intellectual integrity. Those of us searching for the truth amidst the madness.

(The article, which was part of a larger work, was "Knowing the Truth: Rhetoric" by Ron Mock)


Doug #2 said...

Nonviolence is more than a methodology. It is a philosophy in the truest sense: a way of life that integrates all the "sophia" we have into a love of the other. Jesus' command to love our enemies is more than radical; it is life-transforming. Ghandi was aware of this, and tapped into its power.

Anonymous said...

You spelled Gandhi wrong.