World Politics

Research Article

The New Courage: An Essay on Gandhi's Psychology*

Susanne Hoeber Rudolpha1

a1 Lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard

In an era that takes matters of religious faith lightly, it becomes difficult to consider thoughtfully a man who is suspected of saintliness. The task is particularly vexing for Americans, who have no feudal historic memories to remind them that saints were once important people. The obvious solution is to avoid the issue of saintliness altogether—to avoid, for example, questions about whether Gandhi's political shrewdness was compatible with the essential innocence of heart that one asks of saints; above all, to avoid trying to satisfy a generation of ambivalent skeptics who in one breath deny that saints exist and in the next maintain that Gandhi could not have been one because he did not meet such and such criterion of saintliness. The issue of saintliness is a diversion from a serious consideration of Gandhi's contribution.

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, Lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard, has a study forthcoming that is entitled Rajasthan in Transition: From Traditional to Modern Politics in India.

* My thinking about biography and culture owes much to Erik Erickson.