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Philosophy of Niebuhr: Non-violence in Social Contexts Essay

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Updated: Jul 4th, 2022

Although Niebuhr has a negative attitude toward pacifism, rejecting it, nevertheless, the philosopher highlights several advantages of non-violence in specific social contexts. In the context of force, he notes that while non-violence also leads to destruction, this destruction is non-aggressive and on a smaller scale. On the other hand, according to Niebuhr (247), non-violence allows one to protect oneself from feelings of resentment and resentment, thereby reducing the overall level of violence in the context of moral opposition. While I agree with the philosopher’s position on opposing force, I cannot accept his perspective in a moral context.

It seems to me that pacifism in this vein does not bring any positive aspects, only allowing the other side to use the first one at will. Although Gandhi and Gregg are supporters of satyagraha and regard force directed against a person as an element necessary for the triumph of truth, this conclusion seems too unrealistic. In my opinion, this approach should be used with caution. Undoubtedly, its use allows you to reduce some of the dangers; however, it seems to me, that sometimes it is necessary to show a more active position.

Still, one cannot but agree that non-violence can indeed be beneficial. As Niebuhr writes (250), this approach can destroy the opponent’s moral concept of the world. This means that through a non-violent way of resistance and non-submission, a person can resist the idea put forward against him, thereby undermining it. The fact that a person does not show violence, even when aggression is demonstrated against him, should force the opponent to turn to his conscience. This is precisely the essence and importance of non-violence, which is designed to break the spiral of evil.

The concept goes beyond just one country, as the experience of Rustin and Thurman shows. These African American independence fighters drew many parallels between their people and the suffering of Indians, which Rustin could personally observe while working with Gandhi. The similarities were in economic problems, huge inequalities, and injustice of laws concerning ordinary people. It is these details that connect Rustin’s concepts with Gandhi’s thoughts on modern civilization. The two leaders agreed that the path of development of civilization through strength and wealth, imitating real values, is distorted and incorrect.

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IvyPanda. "Philosophy of Niebuhr: Non-violence in Social Contexts." July 4, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophy-of-niebuhr-non-violence-in-social-contexts/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Philosophy of Niebuhr: Non-violence in Social Contexts." July 4, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophy-of-niebuhr-non-violence-in-social-contexts/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Philosophy of Niebuhr: Non-violence in Social Contexts'. 4 July.

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