W101 | Toward a Philosophy of Nonviolence 


9:30 – 11:00 am


3/23, 3/30, 4/6, 4/13, 4/20 & 4/27

Six Sessions 

This course is offered online via the easy-to-use Zoom program

“Toward a Philosophy of Nonviolence” will explore nonviolence through attempting to understand the nature of violence, various misconceptions about violence, and the various approaches that writers and activists have taken toward nonviolence. We will examine five possible myths about violence, and we will also examine a spectrum of approaches to nonviolence, all in attempt to understand the nature of nonviolence.

The course will be divided into six classes:

Mar 23: Violence; “good people” and “bad people”

Mar 30: The alleged “necessity” of violence and punishment

Apr 6: Nonviolence as civil resistance

Apr 13: Limits of nonviolence as civil resistance

Apr 20: Religious roots of nonviolence

Apr 27: Comprehensive or principled nonviolence


Recommended Reading:

Violence and Nonviolence: An Introduction, Barry L. Gan. [Rowman and Littlefield, 2013].

Students may also supplement the course with an anthology edited by the instructor and his mentor, Robert L. Holmes, titled Nonviolence in Theory and Practice, 3rd edition (Waveland Press, 2012).

Barry L. Gan taught at St. Bonaventure University for thirty-six years after receiving his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from the University of Rochester in 1981 and 1984, respectively. Prior to that he taught high school and junior high school English for six years.  For twenty-six years he edited “The Acorn: Journal of the Gandhi-King Society.” For two years he served as program committee chair of the oldest and largest interfaith peace group in the United States, the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He is married to Miaoli Zhang, a former microscopic photographer in brain research and an academic educator in microscopy for Olympus of China.  He has a daughter, a son, and a stepson, all of whom are writers.

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