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Does It Take Enemies to Make Friends? or, What would Hegel say to Nehru?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Moritz Baumstark.

What is the social function of war and what happens to society when a nation refuses to recognize the dichotomies of strife? For the purposes of this talk I will follow the Hegelian argument and use non-aligned India during the Cold War as the odd case. The German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel understood war as preserving the ’ethical health’ of peoples in the same way that ’the blowing of the winds preserves the sea from the foulness which would be the result of prolonged calm’. According to Hegel it takes outer enemies to make inner friends. If this should indeed be the case, how are we to explain the behaviour of nations that do not buy into the conflictual dichotomies of the international system, such as India during the Cold War? When Nehru laid out the doctrine of non-alignment, resting upon the five principles of Panchseel, how did this influence the ’ethical health’ of the Indian people, and how can we best understand the discord between Nehru’s doctrine and the Hegelian dialectics of war?

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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