Thinking about Ethical Politics: Gandhi’s Spirituality versus Levinas’s Philosophy

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In 1962, Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995) was asked about the political implications of his ethics and the possible similarity between his philosophy and the writing of Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948). They both were aware of the considerable tensions between politics and ethics. Both tried to construct ethical politics, and both thought about the ethical aspects of politics. The differences were obvious. Gandhi was an Indian thinker who embraced Hinduism, Christian ethics, Western philosophy, and Leo Tolstoy’s spiritual writings. Levinas was a Western philosopher with a traditional Jewish background, familiar with Russian literature. Gandhi was a social figure and political leader who based his attitude and activism on spirituality. Levinas was a phenomenological philosopher who based his perspective on ethics, underpinning his political philosophy. Nevertheless, this article suggests a philosophical study of Gandhi’s writings compared to Levinas’s teachings. This new perspective explains Gandhi’s philosophy by focusing on the establishment of the subject, the validity of ethics, the search for truth, and the epistemological stance. This study would structure Gandhi’s political position based on spiritual and ethical thinking. This could clarify three main principles of Gandhi’s doctrine: striving for the truth, self-control, and nonviolence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-375
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Hindu Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Emmanuel Levinas
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi
  • ethics
  • philosophy
  • politics
  • spirituality


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