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Nonviolence, ecology and war, extending Gandhian theory

by Ramanathapillai, Rajmohan

Abstract (Summary)
My thesis challenges the conception that Gandhi's theory and practice of nonviolence is, and must be, rooted in a particular religious perspective. 1 undertake to reconstruct a consistent theory of nonviolence, which starts with Gandhi's theory, but is not centred in, or expresseci through, Hindu thought. My approach is based on secular moral arguments for nonviolence, and ecologicalideas concerning the interconnectedness and interdependence of nature. 1 develop a set of principles using both Gandhi and Western environmentalists, such as Aldo Leopold and Arne Naess. In my view, what is lacking in Gandhi's theory is an environmentalethical outlook, and what is lacking in Leopold's and Naess' environmental ethics is an overail theory of nonviolence. By idenitQing and connec~g the mutudy reinforcing ethicd and philosophicd concepts of these thinkers, my theory integrates two significant bodies of work in order to address the morality of the institution of wa.and its effects on ecosystems, 1 develop ten principles of nonviolence and ecology which support the argument that in order to protect nature from damage it is important to resolve hurnan conflict through nonviolence. There are many people who 1 wodd Like to thank for their help and support as 1 worked on this thesis. Fit, 1give special thanlcs to my supervisor, Dr. Mark Vorobej, for his carefully reading and constructive criticisrnof rny thesis at every stage, His suggestions and questions were valuable to the development of my thinkulg and enormously helped my sense of discipline and focus. His prompt responses to my academic-related requests provideci me with even greater motivation to meet my goals for completing the thesis. Second, 1 want to give heartfelt thanks to Dr. Don Stewart who read my thesis during a time when he was recovering from a physical challenge of his own. His sound cnticisms and thoughtful suggestions grealy helped me improve my work. Third, 1want to thank Dr. Paul Younger for his insightfid comments. His extensive knowledge of Gandhi and Indian philosophy enriched my own thinking, and his attention to detail contributed to the accuracy of rny work. 1dso want to thank Dr. Eiisabeth Boetzkes and Dr. Graeme MacQueen for kindly reading of parts of my thesis and giving very useful comments. 1 am deeply thaaldul to my wife, Mary-Beth, who aii dong has been an inspiration and support to my work. 1appreciate her vigorous and sensitive feedback on my ideas, and I always cherish our stimulating discussions. 1 am also thankhil to all my coĆ¼eagues and fnends who read some parts of my work and gave valuable responses. 1am especially pteful to Ria Maricarmen Jenkins, Felix Murdoch, Sarah Todd, Tammy Fleming and Jeremy Lundholm. Finally, I wodd iike to thank my famiiy members who Iive at a long distance, especially my mother, for their understanding and support of my work.
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Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/1998

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