Philosophy Professor Writes New Book on Gandhi’s Legacy

Project stems from Fulbright travel to India
January 13th, 2016 by 

Predrag Cicovacki
Predrag Cicovacki, professor of philosophy and director of Peace and Conflict Studies, teaching his “Philosophical Anthropology” class outside. Photo by: John Buckingham

“Although Gandhi’s legacy has not been forgotten, it has often been distorted,” explains Predrag Cicovacki, professor of philosophy and director of Peace and Conflict Studies at the College of the Holy Cross. “I admire Gandhi, but I am also critical of him,” he continues. “People in India worship him, but they do not actually know that much about him.” This premise is what led him to write his new book, “Gandhi’s Footprints” (Transaction Publishers, October 2015).

The idea for this book came to Cicovacki in 2012, while he was a Senior Fulbright-Nehru Fellow at the Malaviya Centre for Peace Research at Banaras University in Varanasi, India, where he taught and performed research on a project titled “Educating for Peace, Nonkilling, and Humanity.”

“Mahatma K. Gandhi’s dedication to finding a path of liberation from an epidemic of violence has been well documented,” shares Cicovacki. “The central issue of this book is its focus on what Gandhi wanted to liberate us for. He is called ‘Mahatma,’ meaning ‘great soul’ in Sanskrit, and venerated as a saint, but not followed and often misinterpreted. For example, Gandhi’s sainthood is based on his views of nonviolence and for living a nonviolent way of life, but India has built one of the strongest and largest armies in the world, and has become a nuclear power: what would Gandhi say about that?” questions Cicovacki.

In “Gandhi’s Footprints,” Cicovacki attempts to de-mythologize Gandhi and take a closer look at his thoughts, aims, and struggles. He looks at the footprints Gandhi left for us, and follows them as carefully and critically as possible. Cicovacki concludes that Gandhi’s spiritual vision of humanity and the importance of adherence to truth (satyagraha) are his lasting legacy.

“Gandhi should be followed without being imitated,” says Cicovacki, in response to what he would like readers to take away from the book. “He had strengths and weaknesses; he was a human being.”

Arun Gandhi, author of “The Forgotten Woman: The Untold Story of Kastur, the Wife of Mahatma Gandhi” (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2008) and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, praises Cicovacki’s book: “When Gandhi said he discovered new aspects of the philosophy of nonviolence he was right. His philosophy of nonviolence is so deep that the more you explore it the more you learn. Predrag Cicovacki’s book, ‘Gandhi’s Footprints,’ is one more serious and profound attempt to reach the depths of Gandhi’s vibrant way of life.”

Cicovacki’s research interests include Kant, violence and nonviolence, and problems of good and evil. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and his B.A. from the University of Belgrade in Yugoslavia. A member of the Holy Cross faculty since 1991, he was the editor-in-chief of “Diotima,” the College’s philosophical journal, from 2000 to 2002. Cicovacki has published more than 92 essays and papers and authored or edited more than 16 books, including “Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life” (Transaction Publishers, 2011) and “The Restoration of Albert Schweitzer’s Ethical Vision” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2012).

For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.

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