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smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Fri, 28th Nov '08 1:03 PM

GANDHI'S PHILOSOPHY DISCUSSION

It looks like for the Book Club's first book we'll be reading The Essential Gandhi. This will just be a forum (when everyone gets their books) to discuss the book and his views as we go or when we are done. I think this will be fun.

davidf
Davidf  (Level: 102.1 - Posts: 746)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 8:44 AM

I look forward to reading and discussing this and can I say that even though I am British I had nothing to do with the enforcement of a salt tax.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 9:41 AM

Lol, yeah right David, I blame you for this!! Teasing....

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.2 - Posts: 1120)
Sat, 6th Dec '08 2:37 PM

I am finding new insight to Gandhi's life and philosophy. His candid account of his early life and education paint an endearing picture of the man, one that I was not that familiar with.

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Sat, 6th Dec '08 3:10 PM

Yes, it's an amazing and almost graphic account of strength through surrender, which I never understood, or really accepted before. He epitomizes this strength.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 6th Dec '08 5:30 PM

Man, I kind of feel like reading this book I could start five threads off the first chapter alone! But I won't, lol..... I've read it before, but it's been a very long time.....I thought his emphasis on the history of his family was interesting, he seems to pay more attention to their character sometimes than what they did in life. His feelings towards his childhood rebellion was kind of fascinating, I'm talking here about him stealing money to buy cigarettes and his friends influences to try to get him to break Hindu rules, he seemed riddled with guilt concerning his sexual feelings, I wonder why...

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Sat, 6th Dec '08 9:36 PM

I had a funny response to that Jeremy...but

Reading Gandhi always affects me this way: In immediate recognition of the truth of his words (but not the whole truth) I am overwhelmed with admiration and desire to attain his pure, but difficult, standards and yet dislike the manifestation of them at the same time.

He does come from his time and culture...he admits it and its limitations and affect on him. But he does not treat his family as well as he treats others. I understand why, but he has no right to force his wife and family to total agreement. It makes her less than his enemies because he treats them better. It is inexcusable to me to control another person in that manner.

There are other assumptions of his time I will take issue with as we go...

Not sure how we want to proceed...thoughts as we go or no?

Sun



smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 7th Dec '08 12:59 PM

I also have similar feelings regarding Gandhi. I admire his standards, but "dislike" some of the things he does. To me some of his ascetism seems over the top, but I don't really understand Hinduism either, there may be some "point" to the "extremity" of it within that framework I guess.

I've heard the argument concerning his children before, that he spent more time on the problems of India than he did with them. I've thought about this, and from a utilitarian standpoint I've decided that his behavior (for me) is wrong but "forgiven". The number of people he could help by focusing on India rather than his family seems to forgive the few he "let down". I mean I'm not even sure Obama would be president right now if Martin Luther King Jr hadn't "copied" Gandhi in the civil rights movement, which seemed to require some absence from his family.

I'd never heard the argument about "treatment" of his wife, you'd have to flesh it out a little more for me, what chapter are you on? I haven't seen the "total control" chapter yet, just the chapter where he tries for something like total control over her sexual life, she constantly disobeys and he later seems to view it a silly approach. Can you give me more info about this "view" of yours? I've never heard it before....


I think how we are proceeding now is just fine, pointing out agreements, objections, etc. But no, I really have no real guiding solutions...I'm sure if nothing else we'll find better ways of doing this with practice...I thought about popping into other philosophy clubs on the net to see how they do things, just haven't gotten around to it yet.


smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 7th Dec '08 1:21 PM

Fleshing out the argument would give me a chance to think about it anyways....

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 7th Dec '08 2:32 PM

One suggestion I have, take it or leave it, is that maybe we could take notes as we are reading, and just discuss points that seem interesting to us, or those that we take objections to at the end of the reading? This would be my approach, but it would take some work.....he raises so many questions in me, some I understand, some I don't, I'd hate to miss anything here.

Maybe we could take one topic at a time, start out at the end of the book discussing his civil disobedience, or whatever he calls it, discuss his neglect of his family as a seperate topic, his ascetism, etc. as seperate topics when we are done? Or if something really irks us, maybe we could bring it up sooner . I guess the problem I'm trying to tackle is an orderly discussion. Taking one topic at a time, when he's really philosophizing about all of life, seems like the best tactic to me....

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.2 - Posts: 1120)
Sun, 7th Dec '08 2:41 PM

I too, felt that his ability to abandon his wife and children in favor of serving the downtrodden of his kinsmen was rather odd. I say his kinsmen because at the time Gandhi was fervently working on behalf of Indians in South Africa, the native black population was being treated far more horribly. I don't mean to detract from anything that was accomplished by his movement, but at the time he seemed to have a narrow focus and perspective on human rights.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 7th Dec '08 3:20 PM

That's a good point Oog. Hmmm, what is it about humans that gets them to organize and advocate for "their own kind" at the expense of others? In my apartment complex, for example, the minorities of a particular nationality outnumber us "white" folks. We constantly have to be on our toes regarding the "rules" of the complex or we are reported. Rules regarding parking, visitation, smoking rules, etc., any minor violation is immediately reported to the "minority" management and we are quickly punished. The violations of the rules by anyone who is a minority gets overlooked by our neighbors and not reported, and therefore goes unpunished.

Gandhi, at least in youth seems to be of this "kind" of person, advocating for his own kind merely. It seems relevant to C.S. Lewis' discussion of the inner circle almost....I'm sure you'll figure this out, but modern feminism seems this way to me "at times", advocating so ardently for members of their "own kind" that they sometimes start to take away from others who aren't allowed by nature to be part of the "clique". Boy, I'm sure some of those comments are bound to set somebody off.....I consider myself a feminist, just can't go along with everything, just like I "borrow" from Gandhi at times, but can't go along with everything. Guess I'm a mutt in that respect...not trying to start fights, just trying to understand.

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Sun, 7th Dec '08 3:24 PM

Jeremy...his attitude and dominion over his wife threads throughout...but perhaps page 51 it is most epitomized so far in my reading (if we have the same edition of book). Again, I understand he was a man of his time and culture/religion, but as usual, the enlightenment and brilliance of this man did not extend to women in general, certainly not his wife. By "as usual" I include the other great men and philosophers with whom we are familiar. It seems they can overcome prejudice and ignorance...except for the other half of the human family.

Saving all discussion to the end doesn't appeal to me...it is too much fun to share as we go. Oogie and I talk about it and I really enjoy that. Certainly when the book is read, a topical discussion can ensue...and even those that did not read the book can chime in with ideas and perceptions.

But all is fine with me.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 7th Dec '08 3:39 PM

Just ideas about how to progress, if they don't appeal, I'm happy talking now. I'll read those parts to see what you're talking about. Thanks Sun.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 13th Dec '08 4:00 PM

I guess we are going to disagree then. I tried to avoid this, and certainly I would accept an arrangement where we would decide to agree to disagree on all issues involved. Hopefully, this doesn't start a fight.

We may not have the same edition of the book. I finally made it through the book to page 51, and I see nothing in his behavior that I would personally view as "inexcusable" in any way. Kasturbai barely comes up in the book at all so far. They talked very briefly about how he tried to educate her, and perhaps this would have been frowned on at the time for all I know, good for him. Page 51 in my book has him "ordering" that his wife and kids be taken seperately from himself to escape the threat of a violent mob. They made it safely, he did not. Sounds like they got treated better than he did in this case, as usual with history.

I'm wondering Sun, what would you have had Gandhi do? Due to his historical circumstances, Gandhi was a well-educated man, Kasturbai on the other hand was not. I feel that most likely due to his education, and not just his schooling but his self-schooling as well, this gave him the "ability" to be the leader in the relationship in a way Kasturbai could not have pulled off due to her lack of education, training, and skills. I would not have a random person off the street flying the plane I was on, and I would similarly not want the person who doesn't know what they are doing to lead the relationship either.

From what I've read in other books, he seems to have learned over time to give her "freedom" despite the fact that in controversial important matters he was the "final word" on situations where there might be a disagreement. This arrangement, in circumstances where the other party does not have the skills to lead, has always been thought of the "ethical" approach to leadership in such circumstances. It's my understanding that this is what the Bible advocates for. Had she had more skills, training, and education, perhaps that "type" of leadership would not have been the ideal one. I think that this arrangement, as I understand it, was in the best-interest of both parties. I don't have any issue with the way he handled this whatsoever. My views though, are more complex than this post gives them credit for. For me, leading a relationship is a complex skill, and judging by Kastubai's historical circumstances, one I would assume she did not have. This would make sense then if Gandhi was the final word. What would've been a better arrangement to you?

To a certain extent, this makes perfect sense. In a relationship where two people are not equals in skills, then one would have to be the final word in the relationship. How else would disagreements get solved in a satisfactory manner? Maybe had a third person been involved,they could have gone democratic, and best two out of three votes would've won. From my perspective, it is debatable whether this would've been a "solution" or just plain worse, but he could have done it that way, I guess.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 13th Dec '08 4:12 PM

Regarding that last paragraph: debatable whether two people without skills overruling one who did have skills would be better, or an "improvement".

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 13th Dec '08 5:20 PM

Last, I think Gandhi is one of those kinds of people who thinks that if something works, there is "truth" to it. He found out pretty early with Kasturbai that total control doesn't "work", she just disobeyed him on controlling her sexuality. I'm pretty sure they must've worked out a mutual interchange that did work, a balance between the control that was appropriate in his/her historical circumstances that made them both happy. Usually, great reformers choose a movement, it seems to me one that appeals to their self-interest on some level. Gandhi stood up for India, Martin Luther King Jr. for those of his own color who were being mistreated, Elizabeth Cady Stanton for women. You didn't expect him to focus on "fixing" all of the worlds' problems did you? Usually these people just focus socially on one thing at a time.

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Sat, 13th Dec '08 6:26 PM

Well you are right Jeremy...page numbers aren't going to work...we have different editions it seems. I will not be so lazy, and actually cite the passages I am referring to in the future.

We have to disagree...isn't that the fun?

I have found that an open mind is critical to discussion. Danny often sites a quote that is appropriate here (paraphrased):
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle

I do not believe I know everything (for sure I don't know enough) and I do not believe I'm always right, even when I am...

Perhaps we can take Danny's quote as the "rules" for this forum? I wouldn't want anyone to refrain from sharing their thoughts just because they believe differently. I think different perspectives and experiences are all "pieces of the truth". The more I think about what you have to say, the more my own ideas become enhanced.

Does that make sense?

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 14th Dec '08 2:54 AM

Everything you said makes sense Sun. It's amazing how often we do agree. Usually that's what I get out of debates, it's usually somewhat rare that I change my overall view, though it does happen more often than I'd wish, but almost always the form my views take on a new approach with added information, or "soften" up a bit, or sometimes "hardens" up a bit, whatever. I think it's fun.

I guess for me it boils down to whether Kasturbai could've fulfilled her material and spiritual needs within the context of the relationship. If she could, and that's my opinion that she did, I wouldn't view this act as, er "wrong" per se. But usually when I think of something as wrong I have a tendency to view it in the context of a "kind" of self-interest. In my mind, developing Kasturbais FULL potential would've probably benefited not only Kasturbai but Mohandas as well, so if it was wrong it seems to me that he paid the price in this case along with her. My opinion anyway. I could keep going, but I won't, my edition is at least ten years old, lol. I've had it forever.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Fri, 2nd Jan '09 12:24 PM

Anybody still reading Gandhi?? Just curious.....I didn't get alot done like I planned while I was out of town, I forgot my darn book!!

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.2 - Posts: 1120)
Fri, 2nd Jan '09 7:30 PM

Still reading a little, now that the holiday commotion is over.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sun, 8th Feb '09 11:28 PM

Sounds like a few of us might be getting ready for discussion on this again after a month long hiatus. Just thought I'd let any outstanding members know in case anyone wants to join in. I should be done with the book by the end of the week.....

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Mon, 16th Feb '09 7:43 PM

Well, I'm not done Jeremiah, sorry I've been so "not here".

But I have started reading again, and with the conversations with Oogie about it, am ready for any discussion you would like to start. I am about half way through, I know Danny is ahead of me. Where would you like to start?

I think those that have not read the text can still chime in with the concepts. Let it be a totally open discussion.

(Will now do the education thread)

Sun


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