Can art embody truth? Ethics, aesthetics and Gandhi

Clammer, John (2021) Can art embody truth? Ethics, aesthetics and Gandhi. Social Change, 51 (1). pp. 92-103. ISSN 490857

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The philosophical question of whether moral standards apply in art and the practical one of whether the arts can be vehicles of positive social transformation run through a great deal of social theory. In this article, these issues are discussed through an examination of Mahatma Gandhi’s approach to art and in particular his views on music and visual arts as they formed part of his personal world view and his socio-political programme. The article contextualises this in relation to Gandhi’s over-arching concern with the pursuit of truth and its theistic basis, his relationship to certain aspects of classical Indian philosophy and in particular the status of rasa among the four traditional purusharthas, and his relationship with Rabindranath Tagore and the artists at Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan, in particular Nandalal Bose. The article suggests that Gandhi was far from uninterested in aesthetic matters, but that the key to his thought lies in his holistic approach to both philosophy and lifestyle where the arts play an important role when integrated with ethical and religious demands.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Aesthetics | Holism | Music | Social issues | Swaraj | Truth
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Arts and Humanities > History
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Customs, Etiquette and Folklore
JGU School/Centre: Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 29 Dec 2021 06:02
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2022 07:36
Official URL:
Additional Information: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the International Seminar on Satyagraha in the Twenty- First Century held in New Delhi on 22–24 October 2019. It is scheduled to be included in a forthcoming book based on the seminar.


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