Violence and Force

  • James Kellenberger
Part of the Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion book series (PFPR)


Pacifism in its most coherent form rejects the violence of war and violence in all its manifestations. Nonviolence tautologically rejects violence, but this is not to say that it rejects all uses of force. However, if the nonviolence of pacifism allows force, the question of the difference between violence and force arises. This crucial question will be addressed in this chapter. Both Jesus, the Christian paradigm of nonviolence, and Gautama Buddha, the Buddhist paradigm of nonviolence, were active. The issue is whether the activity of pacifism allows force and the character of the force it might allow. Allowable force, it is argued, is importantly intentional and is compatible with love and compassion, which it cannot exclude. In an elaboration of this analysis the actions of Jesus in driving the money-changers from the temple, as described in the New Testament, will be brought forward, along with the controversy that attends that description.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Kellenberger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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