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Bitinayte E.A. The Genesis of M. K. Gandhi’s Ideas on Eastern and Western Civilisations (Preface to the Translation of Gandhi’s Letter to H. S. L. Polak in 14.10.1909)

Published in journal "History magazine: researches", 2016-3 in rubric "Interdisciplinary research", pages 279-289.

Resume: The article presents a Russian translation of M. K. Gandhi’s (1869–1948) letter to H. Polak, dated to the 14th of October 1909. In this text the Indian thinker undertakes one of the first attempts to systematise his views on the issue of the relationships between East and West. The central subject of the letter is the critique of modern society’s external attributes – technical progress, judicial system, medical institutions, etc. This makes the text similar to “Hind Swaraj” – his programme brochure, written soon after the letter. The author examines through a categorical analysis of different sources Gandhi’s key philosophical concepts of “true” and “modern” civilisations, which he created to understand the modernisation processes. For the first time in Russian scientific study the author conducted a comparative analysis of Gandhi’s early texts, which reflect his views on Eastern and Western civilisations. Taking into consideration the Western influences on Gandhi and the Western ideas explicitly and implicitly presented in his philosophy, the author of the article arrives at the conclusion that the Indian thinker was not an absolute antagonist of modernisation. While denying technical progress, Gandhi calls to turn attention from the transformation of the surrounding environment to the development of man himself. This makes his ideas similar to the personalistic tendencies in modern Western social philosophy.

Keywords: East, M. K. Gandhi, West, civilisation, dialogue of cultures, “Hind Swaraj”, traditional society, modernisation, social development, technical progress

DOI: 10.7256/2222-1972.2016.3.19487

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