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Bitinayte E.A. The Idea of Human Dignity as the Philosophical Basis of Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha

Published in journal "Philosophy and Culture", 2015-5 in rubric "Reverence for life", pages 732-738.

Resume: The author of the article analyzes Mahatma Gandhi's social and philosophical views from the point of view of the modern definition of 'human dignity'. In this article the author clarifies anthropological views of the Indian philosopher and his views on personal development. Gandhi's struggle for the rights of the people who had the lowest social status in the Indian society is demonstrated to be the practical example of the philosopher's acknowledgement of their dignity. The author of the article also considers Satyagraha as the mutually related moral development of the two actors: Satyagraha (i.e. someone who practices Satyagraha) and his opponent that happen as a result of practical implementation of a number of ideas referring to human dignity. Based on the categorial analysis, the author also specifies the key terms and concepts in Gandhi's philosophy (human dignity, development, freedom, self-rule, endurance of suffering, shame and dialogue) and examines how these terms are related to one another. Analyzing Satyagraha from the point of view of modern views on human dignity developed in the Western philosophy, the author suggests that we should view different components of Gandhi's philosophy as the elements of his idea of personal development. For the first time in the academic literature the author of the article studies the mechanism of transfering the impulse for development from a Satyagraha to his opponent as a result of their interaction during Satyagraha campaign. Acknowledgement and development of one's own dignity combined with a respectful treatment of the Other's dignity as they are practiced by a Satyagraha are viewed as the condition for similar changes in the internal life of the opponent and transfromation of an initially conflict situation into a dialogue. 

Keywords: human dignity, Mahatma Gandhi, Satyagraha, freedom, self-rule, endurance of suffering, sense of shame, development, the Other, dialogue

DOI: 10.7256/1999-2793.2015.5.11151

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