University Of Tasmania
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Power in philosophy : two arguments for nonviolence today

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posted on 2023-05-27, 06:45 authored by Alomes, A
Contemporary philosophy has a case to answer when it only offers a range of accounts on power which implicate violence. An analysis showing that violence cannot be legitimate fuels even deeper concern. It would appear that the moral agent is left facing two (rather unsatisfactory) choices: either pursue power through violent means, or renounce violence and remain powerless. For some, this situation will be deeply counter-intuitive requiring an alternative solution. As an alternative candidate for power, Western nonviolent action contains some useful beginnings for a theoretical account, but its apparent limitations have led to a dismissal of the subject by mainstream philosophy. Two contemporary examples (the Tibetan community in exile and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa) successfully demonstrate the exercise of power through nonviolence. By taking a Western and non-Western philosophical approach and bringing the theoretical foundations together we find compelling evidence for a new action theory of power based on nonviolence. This approach through \fusion philosophy\" brings to philosophical discourse new definitions of violence and nonviolence and a fresh perspective on the roots of violence and the pathway to the antidote. The contemporary application of MK Gandhi's satyagraha or \"truth insistence\" through the work of Professor Samdhong Rinpoche highlights the important moral issue that nonviolent action is not only descriptive but also representative and what it represents is the truth. Here we find the context for individual action and accountability and a mechanism for effective social change. Contemporary theorists writing on power who make necessary connections between power and violence fail to notice that violence is also representative and fail to ask what it represents. While the change from violent action to nonviolent action may not suit some progress should at least reflect a choice; and contemporary philosophy is faced with providing the conceptual scaffolding to support the increasing number of individuals groups and nations moving through this important transition. This thesis seeks to answer the question: \"Is it reasonable for the epistemological foundations of power to reflect only violence?\" concluding that it is not. I argue that violence is too narrowly defined and offer new definitions of violence and nonviolence. Further that violent action represents falsity or error and is morally wrong. It also represents the supposed legitimate exercise of power when it is in fact illegitimate and unjustifiable. I conclude that nonviolence represents a more morally acceptable type of action because it represents the truth in two senses-- about the way things are and about the way things ought to be."


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Copyright 1998 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1998. Includes bibliographical references

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