Reconciling Gandhi’s Perpetrator and Victimhood Perspectives on Violence: Knowledge, Intersectionality, and Transcendence

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In this article, I offer not only an alternative but also a superior account of how we might reconcile Gandhi’s perpetrator and victimhood perspectives on violence (himsa). Appealing to both critical social studies and philosophy, I emphasize both the intersections of these two perspectives and their intersection with his metaphysics. I reject the standard approaches to reconciling Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolence with his remarks on the occasional necessity and unavoidability of violence. Instead, I focus on how truth-seekers use their political freedom to ‘pass over,’ or cross and join, many different social viewpoints to gain knowledge and insight concerning the minimum of violence compatible with keeping everyone a path to ahimsa (nonviolence), truth and transcendence. Further, I contend my account of the intersections of nonviolence, violence, truth, and transcendence helps clarify a Gandhian contribution to UNESCO’s vision of knowledge societies through highlighting the kinds of knowledge required for such a path.

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