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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a hero for many. He was probably the most influential person in the twentieth century. He was born in the year 1869 and he died in the year1948 He was a British trained lawyer of Indian origin from South Africa. He was famously called "Mahatma" which means "Great Soul/Self" (Allen, 2003). He had no philosophical analysis and statutes to boast to the people. He just always replies whenever asked about what his philosophy is that his life is his testimony. His life is his message to those who asks. He was undeniably most popular than more than 90 percent of the scientific and philosophical communities. He started his life as a justice advocate. He pursued the fight towards the end of the apartheid system in South Africa. It was reported that during this stages of his life when he formed his moral ideals. It was called a non-violent agitation which he called "satyagraha". Satyagraha literally translates to moral domination. He was a devout Hindu, and he promoted total moral philosophies such as tolerance, brotherhood of all religions, non-violence (ahimsa) and simple living. He led all kinds of people in all places in India to fight for their rights as humans and as Indians with freedom using a non-violent satyagrahis. At the end of the Second World War, one of the mightiest empires in the world has been tested and triumphed over by the moral might of a people armed only with ideals and courage (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, n.d.). In this paper, Gandhi's moral ideals, beliefs and life will be studied and analyzed using various ethical theories.
Gandhi has morals and belief systems that unimaginably shaped and attracted many world leaders of his time. He gained worldwide praise, acknowledgments, and awe for his unique way of non-violent morality. Analysis of Gandhi's belief system will be studied using the two broad categories of ethical theories concerning the rightness and wrongness of a person's action: (1) the consequentialist and (2) the non-consequentialist (Consequentialist vs. non-consequentialist theories of ethics, n.d.). Consequentialist theories believe that the rightness or wrongness of actions is based on the consequences that action produces. An example of a consequentialist theory is utilitarianism which believes that the best action is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greater number of people. On the other hand, the non-consequentialist theories believe that the rightness or wrongness of an action is based on the intrinsic properties of the action and not the consequences of the action. Examples of these non-consequentialist theories are the libertarianism and contractarianism. Libertarianism believes that people has freedom to do what they want as long as they know how to respect other's freedom as well. Also, contractarianism believes that a policy that causes no harm to people and environment is permitted to be put into action (Consequentialist vs. non-consequentialist theories of ethics, n.d.). Gandhi's moral ideologies can be both consequentialist and non-consequentialist however, judging from the frequency of the theories: Gandhi's theories are mostly consequentialist theories. He focuses at "aims". He urges his followers to focus on "aims", which means "ends". Examples of his famous quotations are: (1) "Whatever is useful to starving millions is beautiful in my mind.", (2) "I do not believe in the doctrine of the greatest good of the greatest number. The only real dignified human doctrine is the greatest good for all." Thus, his beliefs are mostly consequentialists.
Gandhi's moral code can be described using existing moral theories. Not one theory best describe the moral code of Gandhi. His moral code is a mixture of integrated moral theories that join into one unique "Gandhian" philosophy. His moral theories follow Kant's philosophy such that motives and intentions are what are important. For example, he equates violence with hatred and nonviolence with love. Another theory is the activist philosophy which he relates to the action-oriented philosophy of karma. He believed that there is a nonviolent way to weaken or even break endless cycles of violence, thus allowing people to realize moral theories and ethics (Allen, 2003). Another theory is universalisability which suggests that if someone holds a moral value, he must think that it all applies to others (Bilgrami, 2003).
Gandhi is regarded by many as a virtue ethicist. There are many virtues that embodied the life of a Mahatma Gandhi. These are patience, love, love for self and love for country, truth, equality, chastity, humility and most importantly, nonviolence. Nonviolence is attributed as an enabling virtue, which means that it simply requires effort to make it into action. Furthermore, Gandhi equates impatience with injury (ahimsa), provocatively implying that impatience is at the root of all violence (Gier, 2001).
Gandhi once made a comment that says, "I do not believe in the doctrine of the greatest good of the greatest number. The only real dignified human doctrine is the greatest good for all." This theory is very utilitarian in nature. Utilitiarianism believes that the greatest good is the one which provides greatest happiness and pleasure to a greater number of people or majority. In Gandhi's statement, he rejects utilitarianism. He believes that all is equal in God's eyes and that the greatest good is the one that brings happiness and joy to "all".
Watching the film, Gandhi, made me realize why Gandhi was and still is a very, if not, the most influential person in the world. He embodied multiple virtues that he simplified into one body. I have realized his importance as a person that even Albert Einstein was in awe of his life. I learned that nonviolence can be effective, even in a complicated world like India. Nonviolence is the best way to calm a raging multitude. And that to be followed, you must put into action what you preach. This is what the life of Gandhi is all about. He does not only preach; he acts. His life is his message. The part of the film that created the biggest impact in my life is how he was paraded into his last resting place. There were millions of people, of different nationalities, different societies, different age groups, men and women, young and old. It showed what and how great his influence has become. Indeed, Gandhi is the most influential man in the world.