The Virtue of Nonviolence

From Gautama to Gandhi

By Nicholas F. Gier

Subjects: Peace
Series: SUNY series in Constructive Postmodern Thought
Paperback : 9780791459508, 240 pages, November 2005
Hardcover : 9780791459492, 240 pages, December 2003

Table of contents


Series Introduction


1. Gandhi as a Postmodern Thinker


Gandhi as Premodernist
The Modernist Gandhi
Two Forms of Postmodernism
A Postmodern Gandhi


2. Nonviolence in Jainism and Hinduism


Absolute Nonviolence in Jainism
Gandhi and Jainism
Relative Nonviolence in Hinduism
Gandhi's View of the Bhagavad-gita


3. Vedanta, Atman, and Gandhi


Bhikhu Parekh's Advaitin Gandhi
Ramashray Roy's Nondual Gandhi
Metaphors of Self and World


4. The Buddha and Pragmatic Nonviolence


Nonviolence in Buddhism
Gandhi's Misconceptions about Buddhism
Gandhi, Self-Suffering, and the Buddha
The Mahatma and the Bodhisattva
The Buddhist Self as Functional
Gandhian and Buddhist Humanism


5. Experiments with Truth


Aristotle on Practical Reason
Yi and Phronesis
Dharma and the Middle Way
The Eight-Fold Path
Experiments with Truth


6. The Aesthetics of Virtue


A Confucian Critique of Greco-Roman Ethics
Rational versus Aesthetic Order
A Confucian Aesthetics of Virtue
A Fusion of Making and Doing


7. Gandhi, Confucius, and Virtue Aesthetics


Confucius versus Gandhi
Instructive Similarities
A Gandhian Aesthetics of Virtue


8. Rules, Vows, and Virtues


Rules and Virtues
Virtue and Virility
Vows and Virtues
Gandhi's Vows
Gandhi's Virtues


9. The Virtue of Nonviolence


Character Consequentialism
The Means–Ends Relation
Is Nonviolence a Virtue at All?
Is Nonviolence an Enabling Virtue?
The Virtues, Pleasure, and Moral Freedom
Happiness, Joy, and Pleasure


10. The Saints of Nonviolence: Buddha, Christ, Gandhi, King


Saintly Gentleness and Tough Love
Utility, Duty, or Infused Charity?
The Charismatic Saint
Mahatma, Megalopsychia, and the Flawed Saint
Buddha, Christ, and Duress Virtue



Glossary of Foreign Terms

Selected Bibliography

Note on Supporting Center


SUNY Series in Constructive Postmodern Thought

A study in comparative virtue ethics.


Virtue ethics has been a major focus in contemporary moral philosophy since the publication of Alasdair MacIntyre's book After Virtue. Here, in The Virtue of Nonviolence, Nicholas F. Gier argues that virtue ethics is the best option for constructive postmodern philosophy and that Gandhi's own thought is best viewed in light of this tradition. He supports this position by formulating Gandhi's ethics of nonviolence as a virtue ethics, giving a Buddhist interpretation of Gandhi's philosophy, and presenting Gandhi as a constructive postmodern thinker. Also included is an assessment of the saints of nonviolence—Buddha, Christ, King, and Gandhi—and a charismatic theory of the nature of the saints.

Nicholas F. Gier is Professor of Philosophy and Coordinator of Religious Studies at the University of Idaho. He is the author of God, Reason, and the Evangelicals, and the SUNY Press publications Wittgenstein and Phenomenology: A Comparative Study of the Later Wittgenstein, Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty and Spiritual Titanism: Indian, Chinese, and Western Perspectives.