It has been widely proposed that the Jain logical methods of linguistic analysis collectively known as anekāntavāda (manypointedness) are an extension of the Jain ethical imperative of ahiṃsā (non-harm) into philosophy as a form of intellectual tolerance and relativity--described by several scholars as "intellectual ahiṃsā"--whose genealogy and development over the past sixty-five years are given in detail. It is shown how Jains used anekāntavāda to expose the relative truth of non-Jain metaphysics, while arguing that only Jain metaphysics, which alone is (...) based on the omniscience (kevala-jñāna) of the Jina, contains absolute truth (samyag-jñāna). Examples are given of Jain intolerance of others, based on nonphilosophical literacy and historical evidence, before returning to the issue of Jain tolerance for and curiosity about non-Jain philosophical positions, in an attempt to ground future discussions of Jain tolerance and intolerance on a fuller range of Jain data and not on ideological formulations inadequately grounded in historical analysis. (shrink)
(Gandhi Marg 15:1 [April-June, 1993], pp. 24-36) Individuality is and is not even as each drop in the ocean is an individual and is not. It is not because apart from the ocean it has no existence. It is because the ocean has no existence if the drop has not, i.e., has no individuality. They are beautifully interdependent. And if this is true of the physical law, how much more so of the spiritual world!
In a world fraught with violence in its macabre form, it is essential to have a broad and clear understanding of the principle of non-violence , its various nuances, its potential and limitations. Covering a span of wisdom literature on the Indian ethos from the times of the Upanishads to the works of modern seers like Gandhi, Tagore and Aurobindo, the author presents the notions of non-violence and violence along a finely graduated scale instead of going into sharp polarities. While (...) making a clear distinction between gross physical violence and the subtle play of violence in words, thoughts and ideas, the paper goes on to offer a critique of modern technology and nuclear proliferation for perpetrating violence on nature and fellow human beings in the name of progress and development. While expressing his admiration for the Gandhian principle of non-violence, the author advocates practical idealism that admits violence with caution but without hatred for the purpose of general welfare , along the lines of the messages of Krishna in the Gita. This is of practical necessity till such time as the world has been awakened to a heightened level of spiritual consciousness. (shrink)
The first half of the paper consists of a philosophical reflection upon a historical exchange. I discuss Buber’s famous letter, and another letter by J. L. Magnes, to Mahatma Gandhi, both challenging the universality of the principle of ahiṃsā. I also touch on Buber’s interest and acquaintance with Indian philosophy, as an instance of dialogue de-facto across cultures. Gandhi never answered these letters, but his grandson and philosopher extraordinaire Ramchandra Gandhi ›answers‹ Buber, not on the letter but about the ideal (...) of dialogue at large, and the interconnection of dialogue and ahiṃsā. The second half of the paper focuses on the work of Daya Krishna, another ›philosopher of dialogue.‹ from within Daya Krishna’s vast philosophical corpus, I underscore one of his last projects, in which he sketches the outlines of what he refers to as »knowledge without certainty,« contrary to common and traditional ways of perceiving the concept of knowledge. I argue that the pramāṇa, means and measure of knowledge, in the intriguing case of »knowledge without certainty,« depicted by Daya Krishna as open-ended, dynamic, constantly evolving, is inevitably dialogue, and I aim to disclose the meaning and salience of dialogue in Daya Krishna’s oeuvre. However, not just the content, but also the form, or the ›how,‹ matters in my paper. I use different materials across genres and disciplines to rethink, in dialogue with Buber and Daya Krishna, the possibilities and impossibilities of dialogue. These ›materials‹ include Milan Kundera and Richard Rorty, Krishna and Arjuna, Vrinda Dalmiya who works with the notion of care as bridging between epistemology and ethics, Wes Anderson on seeing through the eyes of the other, and Ben Okri on hospitality in the realm of ideas. As author of the present paper I am moderating an imagined a multi-vocal dialogue between these ›participants‹ on dialogue as concept, as craft and especially, as a great necessity in the world in which we live. (shrink)
This essay explores how the principles of ahimsa and reverence for life provide a foundation for animal welfare in the thought of Mohandas Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer, respectively. This exploration unfolds through a consideration of the contextual background of both thinkers, the scope of life to which they apply their respective principles, and both the ethical ramifications and limitations of this application. Within this common framework, the author delineates the striking commonalities and the significant disparities between Gandhi and Schweitzer. (...) This comparison opens a common space within which ecologically-minded Hindus and Christians can dialogue, augmenting each other's positions by drawing on respected thinkers in their traditions. It also provides an opportunity, within the tensions highlighted at the intersection of Gandhi and Schweitzer's thought, to further construct a foundation for animal welfare in contemporary discussions. (shrink)
Normative ethics concerns the practical resolution of questions about the right and the good. Applied ethics concerns the case-based resolution of questions of the right and the good. In this module, we look at the implications of the radical Virtue Theory of Jainism for practical questions, such as life decisions, occupations, and diet –-- questions of normative and applied ethics. The Jain position is that the self is defined by virtue, and hence action (karma) is derivative and not essential to (...) the self. This entails an ethics of ahiṃsā, as action in conformity to the virtues of the self. As only action can harm, the virtue of the individual is beyond harm and hence action in accordance with this virtue is nonharmful. I consider how this impacts questions of guilt and responsibility. Unlike Buddhists who treat states of the world as the outcomes that justify actions, Jains treat the virtue of the self as the guiding outcome of ethical deliberation. It is the ultimate good. In the fourth section, I review a classic disagreement between Jains and Buddhists. This highlights a difference: while Buddhists regard virtue to be a consequence to be maximised, the Jains reject this. Virtue is our essence, and the authentic life reflects our virtue. (shrink)
This paper makes an attempt to philosophically re-construct what I have termed as a fundamental paradox at the heart of deontological liberalism. It is argued that liberalism attempts to create the possibilities of rational consensus and of bringing people together socially and politically by developing methodologies which overcome the divisive nature of essentially parochial substantive conceptions of the good. Such methodologies relying on the supposed universally valid dictates of reason and notions of procedural rationality proceed by disengaging men from the (...) divisive particularities of their plural value contexts. That disengagement is sought to be achieved by conceptualizing the individual as self sufficient in her moral and epistemic being thereby conceptually isolating individual man from the other. The liberal effort to create rational consensus which can bring people together then gets off the ground by isolating the individual from the other. This I have termed as the paradox of the self and the other or alternatively the paradox of social atomism and universalism. As a possible philosophical alternative this paper makes an attempt to re-construct Gandhi’s conceptualization of the relationship between swaraj as self rule and Satyagraha as non-violent resistance. This Gandhian connection, it is argued, has the potential to transform the moral psychology of our response to the other, thereby posing a challenge to the modern, predominantly liberal, conceptualization of such a response. (shrink)
This article provides a philosophical overview of some of the central Buddhist positions and argument regarding animal welfare. It introduces the Buddha's teaching of ahiṃsā or non-violence and rationally reconstructs five arguments from the context of early Indian Buddhism that aim to justify its extension to animals. These arguments appeal to the capacity and desire not to suffer, the virtue of compassion, as well as Buddhist views on the nature of self, karma, and reincarnation. This article also considers how versions (...) of these arguments have been applied to address a practical issue in Buddhist ethics; whether Buddhists should be vegetarian. (shrink)
This article reviews the element of consciousness from a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist (Western) perspective. Within the Buddhist perspective, two practices toward attaining expanded and purified consciousness will be included: the Seven-Point Mind Training and Vipassana. Within the Western perspective, David Hawkins’ works on consciousness will be used as a main guide. In addition, a number of important concepts that contribute to expanded and purified consciousness will be presented. Among these concepts are impermanence, karma, non-harming (ahimsa), ethics, kindness and (...) compassion, mindfulness, right livelihood, charity, interdependence, wholesome view, collaboration, and fairness. This article may be of use to students and workforce members who consider a transdisciplinary approach on human wellbeing in personal and professional environments. (shrink)
Two fundamental problems in all thought can be identified: One, life and world affirmation and second, life and world negation. Indian approach is characterized as the second and hence it is claimed that moral problems have not been persistently pursued and successfully tackled in India. Points like the advaita concept of liberation, law of karma, the system of social stratification, stages of life and duties associated with them are picked up to show that theIndian system is ethically bankrupt. But along (...) with the science of salvation, the science of statecraft (arthasastra) and four objectives of human life are emphasized. The two functions of knowledge namely, theoretical and practical (arthaparicchiti and phalaprapti) referring to fact and value are recognized and it is held that knowledge of facts lead to the pursuit of values. Value is taken as the ‘object of desire’. The concept of svadharma and ahimsa are basic to it. The ‘ought of ethics’ (Dharma) is foundational to all Indian thought. A comprehensive value system consisting of spiritual, moral, material and social values and the distinction between instrumental and intrinsic values are recognized. Contemporary ethical issues relating to human rights and women, suicide, abortion and the host of problems thrown open by science and biotechnology find proper place in it. (shrink)
Many authors claim that certain Indian (Hindu) texts and traditions deny that nature has intrinsic value. If nature has value at all, it has value only as a means to mokṡa (liberation). This view is implausible as an interpretation of any Indian tradition that accepts the doctrines of ahiṁsā (non-harm) and karma. The proponent must explain the connection between ahiṁsā and merit by citing the connection between ahiṁsā and mokṡa: ahiṁsā is valuable, and therefore produces merit, because ahiṁsā is instrumentally (...) valuable as a means to mokṡa. Ahiṁsā is a means to mokṡa, however, because it produces merit. Hence the explanation is circular. Additionally, this view entails that morality is strictly arbitrary – it might just as well be that hiṁsā (harm) produces merit, and ahiṁsā produces demerit. An alternative interpretation that avoids these problems states that the value of ahiṁsā derives from the intrinsic value of the unharmed entities. (shrink)
This paper has been extracted from a book manuscript that attempts to interpret Gandhi’s ethics of nonviolence ahimsa) in terms of virtue theory. The first section addresses the issue of virtue theory’s relationship to consequentialism and concludes that there is no way to avoid the fact that the virtues developed because of their consequences. Therefore, I will join Gandhi’s virtue ethics with P. J. Ivanhoe’s character consequentialism. Particularly significant in distinguishing utilitarianism from virtue theory is the relationship of means (...) to ends. Character consequentialism will insist that moral ends are always internally related to the virtues as means. In the second section I will explicate the distinction between enabling and substantive virtues, discuss the enabling virtues of self-control, patience, and courage, and conclude that the virtue of nonviolence forms an alliance with these enabling virtues. (shrink)
The paper considers how Mahatma Gandhi?s Law of Ahimsa (or non-violence) can be reconciled with the necessity of violence; some of the strategies that Gandhi adopts in response to this problem are critically examined. Gandhi was willing to use (outward) violence as an expedience (in the sense of necessity), but he was opposed to using non-violence as an expedience. There are two versions of Gandhi?s doctrine. He makes a distinction between outward violence and inner violence. Both versions grant that (...) outward violence is often necessary and must be administered with compassion. On the more demanding version, outward version is never justified, not even when it is necessary; it is at best excused or pardoned. On the less demanding version, outward violence under certain conditions is justified. (shrink)
The principle of non-injury toward all living beings (ahimsā) in India was originally a rule restraining human interaction with the natural environment. I compare two discourses on the relationship between humans and the natural environment in ancient India: the discourse of the priestly sacrificial cult and the discourse of the renunciants. In the sacrificial cult, all living beings were conceptualized as food. The renunciants opposed this conception and favored the ethics of non-injury toward all beings (plants, animals, etc.), which meant (...) that no living being should be food for another. The first represented an ethics modeled on the power that the eater has over the eaten while the second attempted to overturn this food chain ethics. The ethics of non-injury ascribed ultimate value to every individual living being. As a critique of the individualistic ethics of noninjury, a holistic ethics was developed that prescribed the unselfish performance of one’s duties for the sake of the functioning of the natural system. Vegetarianismbecame a popular adaptation of the ethics of non-injury. These dramatic changes in ethics in ancient India are suggestive for the possibility of dramatic changes in environmental ethics today. (shrink)
Anti-essentialism, antiuniversalism, anti-foundationalism, fragmentation of subjectivity, pluralization of truths are feared to entail the danger of forfeiture of possibilities for critical counter discourses. But the deconstruction of categories is not inevitably the death of politics; rather, the postmodernist intervention of canonical power /knowledge alliances facilitates the recovery of "other" strategies of resistance concerning world problems from "nonconventional" sources that have hitherto been invalidated by mainstream discourses. Thus the crisis triggered by postmodern critique could hold immense opportunities for new configurations of (...) politics to emerge through micro-politics of permanent resistance and diversification of discourses of subversion. Political activism today stands in a complicated parasitical relationship of debt and defiance vis-ä-vis the postmodernist discourse, which, despite many shortcomings, does offer possibilities of thinking the "Other". To this end, I seek to go back into the history of philosophy and reclaim tools of resistance from "different" cultural contexts to revitalize and re-imagine our oppositional practices in the present. This paper attempts to experiment with the concept of non-violence [Ahimsa) as conceptualized within the Indian philosophical tradition. (shrink)
Peace is the primary public good. --James K. Galbraith Somehow or other the wrong belief has taken possession of us that ahimsa is preeminently a weapon for individuals and its use should, therefore, be limited to that sphere. In fact this is not the case.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research raises ethical issues. In the process of research, embryos may be destroyed and, to some, such an act entails the ‘killing of human life’. Past studies have sought the views of scientists and the general public on the ethics of ESCR. This study, however, explores multi-faith ethical viewpoints, in particular, those of Buddhists, Hindus and Catholics in Malaysia, on ESCR. Responses were gathered via semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. Three main ethical quandaries emerged from the data: sanctity of (...) life, do no harm, and ‘intention’ of the research. Concerns regarding the sanctity of life are directed at particular research protocols which interfere with religious notions of human ensoulment and early consciousness. The principle of ‘do no harm’ which is closely related to ahimsa prohibits all acts of violence. Responses obtained indicate that respondents either discourage research that inflicts harm on living entities or allow ESCR with reservations. ‘Intention’ of the research seems to be an interesting and viable rationale that would permit ESCR for the Buddhists and Hindus. Research that is intended for the purpose of alleviating human suffering is seen as being ethical. This study also notes that Catholics oppose ESCR on the basis of the inviolability of human life. (shrink)
An analysis of the Jain metaphysics of non-absolutism (anekāntavāda) shows how the epistemological theory of points of view (nayavāda) and the sevenfold schema of predication (saptabhaṅgī) provide a foundation for the central Jain principle of nonviolence (ahiṃsā).
Jainism is characterized by an observance of non-violence (ahimsa) and asceticism (tapas). In the field of philosophy, it is marked by the doctrine of manifold aspects (anekantavada). The purpose of this study is to explore the inseparable connection between Jainism as a religion and as a philosophy. The first chapterdescribes the position of philosophical thinking in Jainism, while the second examines the doctrine of manifold aspects, which has become synonymous with Jainism. These exploration makes it clear that most of (...) Jaina philosophers have not moved beyond their religious framework into the realm of pure philosophy, even though they have developed philosophical doctrine called the doctrine of manifold aspects. Finally, I introduce Haribhadra’s statement that could becalled an ideal form of the doctrine of manifold aspects. He deals with Kapila (thought to be the founder of the Samkhya school) impartially, and he deals with Mahavira, who founded Jainism, critically. It is interesting that such an idea was stated by a philosopher who was placed in a religious framework. Though thismay be a rare case, it shows the possibility that the philosophical thinking of Jainism has the potential to go beyond its own religious framework. (shrink)
Gandhi’s writings on moral issues propose an easiest formula to the world to establish harmony and peace in the global society. In a world where people are confronting a psychological fear of sudden terror and violence, the Gandhian formula of ‘non-violence (ahimsa) as a means’ to form a perfect harmonious world is getting strong attention of the world-community. Truth and non-violence are the two most valuable ingredients of Gandhian moral thoughts. For him, Truth or God is the end and (...) non-violence is the mean and the two can not be separated. They are more effective in life when they are used in their united form. This unity can be actualized only through the motive of ‘love to humanity’ without separating one person from another on any ground. He argues that the unity of truth and non-violence is a better way to have a moral and harmonious life. In this paper, I will focus upon the Gandhian formula in wider perspective, which reflects in his political activities and his writings as well, with the contention that it is highly applicable to normalize the violence rooted in different parts of the world at both the levels of religious and political. I will contend that Gandhian notion of truth and non-violence in terms of ends and means may play a medicinal role to harmonize the world suffering from extremism and terrorism. (shrink)
This paper endeavours to present systematically the essential components of human values and their evolution through various socio-religious movements in the Indian history. The first part of the paper examines the principal values that represent the Indian ethical system. Tyaga , dana , nishtha , satya , ahimsa and upeksha are examined as the keynotes of the Indian values system. The second part looks briefly at the historical context of the evolution of this values system. Enumerating the broad gamut (...) of ideas which emanated in the upanishadic age and underlining the contributions made to the sustenance of human values in India by the various reform movements in the five thousand years of Indian history, the paper unearths the richness and resilience of Indian ethos. The paper concludes that for the perpetuation of the Indian values system, the Indian concept of dharma has acted as a sustaining principle through the ages. (shrink)