PHILOSOPHY 12

Saturday, July 31, 2004

FINAL #01

1. Give a very specific outline of the ETHICS of Gandhi as presented in his "autobiography" from pp. 1-250 (up to p. 300 if you read this far) and the final last pages. Unlike a biography that only outlines his life the "autobiography" allows you to go into his head and experience his world view. Focus on his world view. Articulate his ethics as he sees them. Answer what does he mean by "experiments with Truth?" What are his "specific" personal ethical struggles and life challenges? What personal problems does he face and how does he solve them? Detail his ethical position. And, finally, why do you think Gandhi is considered by many to be a moral hero? Do you think that Gandhi's life can serve as an inspiration for us today. Apply Gandhi's ethics to your individual life AND to the world at large. (Hint: I need to see in this essay that you completed the assigned reading; this most likely will be a longer essay and so worth a bit more). If you did not read the AUTOBIOGRAPHY then skip this question and write I DO NOT KNOW. Do not use an outside source on the life of Gandhi to answer this question (no credit)....I am trying to decipher if you read the assigned book and understood his ethical struggles.

gandhi's ethics as everyone who has heard of the name knows, revolves around non-violence in finding a solution to every problem. gandhi has a belief that as long as one sticks with the truth, any conflicts will eventually be solved, without the need for violence or force. his autobiography outlines most if not all of his success story of how truth has helped him solved many problems without means of violence. gandhi was first inspired "to follow truth and go through all the ordeals" (p.5)after watching the play HARISCHANDRA. he gave high regard to harishchandra who was fully truthful, and gandhi thought that everyone should be truthful like harishchandra. what gandhi means by "experiment with truth" is that he considers his living truthfully as a life-long experiment, and this autobiography is like the report of his success, failure, and the hardships he has to go through. gandhi experiences hardships early, but whenever his principle to uphold truth fails, he carefully studies what causes the failure. one example was when he was still in highschool and a little misunderstanding caused him to be convicted of lying. he realized that although truthful, he was also at fault for being careless; from that he concludes that "a man of truth must also be a man of care." (p.13) this is similar to an experiment, since in a experiment, one always goes by method of trials and errors. gandhi does the same. he practices his principle, and whenever it fails he adds to the principle something it was lacking before and hence causing it to fail.

gandhi, always being a shy person, realizes that shyness is a great quality to have. by being shy, one would refrain oneself from talking out loud unpreparedly, and this is considered really important for a man who upholds truth. gandhi likes the idea that silence is golden; he claims that silence is a really important aspect in the discipline one needs to uphold truth. gandhi recognizes that "proneness to exaggerate, to suppress or modify the truth, wittingly or unwittingly, is a natural weakness of man, and silence is necessary in order to surmount it." (p.55) realizing this, gandhi adds silence to his experiment with truth. another thing that gandhi learns at certain points in his life-long experiment, is that one has to be able to suppress one's emotions and pocket the insults one gets, because otherwise, whenever insulted, one will get offended and experience emotional outbursts, which is likely to result in violence and distortion of truth. gandhi experienced this when his brother asked him to use his friendship with a sahib in order to get his brother out of a trouble. gandhi recognized this as an exploitation of friendship, and to gandhi, this has proved disastrous.

gandhi's experiment with truth was showing shape when he was violently assaulted for being "coloured." he showed his passiveness by refusing to bring the matter into legal accounts. not only passiveness, but gandhi also showed forgiveness and ability to think positively. he claims that he had forgiven the man even before he apologized, because gandhi thinks that the man doesn't know what he is doing because "all coloured people are the same to him." (p.113) gandhi's reasoning to uphold truth with the highest regard becomes clear when in the case with dada abdulla he made a claim that "facts mean truth, and once we adhere to truth, the law comes to our aid naturally." gandhi was still a normal human being, he did not renounce the world nor was he able to renounce his emotions, but one success that can be learned from him is his ability to restrain his feelings. many ocassion gandhi experienced insults that enraged him, but he always managed to restrain his feelings. gandhi was also not afraid of making sacrifices, such as taking off his turban, as long as it was "worthy of a better cause." (p.129) another instance that shows gandhi's passiveness is when a christian mother he frequently visited, asked him to not talk to her son about giving up meat because she is worried that the son will become ill. to this, gandhi claims that the best solution is for him to stop his visits. (p.141). gandhi also shows his belief that people are good and practices his non-violent campaign when he claims that he "has trusts in their sense of fairness." (p.168) this happens when gandhi made a visit to south africa and people there started getting violent upon his arrival.

i think such philosopy of live creates amazement on people, and that makes gandhi a moral hero for many people. gandhi was not the only one in this world who believes that peace is a much better solution than violence, but these people who believe rarely turn their belief into realization. gandhi makes himself an example that it is possible for one not to get provoked into violence. gandhi's principle of non-violent protest is EXACTLY what we need in the world today. when a number of people rally together to protest about an issue, their main purpose is to get their message of disapproval across. but these sorts of rallies often end up in violence, either provoked or not. when a protest turns violent, what the world sees at fault is the protesters, not the main issue they are protesting about, thus defeating the whole purpose of the protest AND making the participants look bad. if they apply gandhi's non-violent system and learn how to pocket insults in order not to get provoked, the world will be moved and understand the issue they are protesting. people like john lennon and his wife, yoko ono, had been a follower of gandhi's ethics and their non-violent campaign against war: "give peace a chance," has been much more successful than other campaigns that people carry out.

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