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Title: The primacy of love : the relation between agapeic love and nonviolent direct action in the thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Author: Lake, Larry Benjamin
ISNI:       0000 0001 3603 9941
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1984
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This thesis examines the integral relationship between Martin Luther King's conception of Christian love and his ideas on nonviolent resistance - a pivotal issue in his moral philosophy. Chapter One is a general introduction presenting the subject matter and major sources of research utilized in this study. Considerable attention has been given throughout the thesis to King's unpublished writings and speeches as well as his published works. The second chapter delineates the salient influences and schools of thought that affected King's intellectual pilgrimage to nonviolence. King was reared in a Christian home, educated in a small, liberal arts college and then earned two degrees beyond the bachelor's level in theology. He enjoyed grappling with philosophical issues and possessed a deeply devout evangelical faith. It is impossible to understand King's conception of love or philosophy of nonviolence without a firm grasp of the social and intellectual influences which shaped his Christian moral philosophy. Chapter Three gives a detailed exegesis of King's doctrine of agapeic love. Out of his fervent Christian faith, King developed a thoroughgoing theological ontology of love, and this chapter looks at the metaphysical and dynamic character of agape in King's writings. Chapter Four is a discussion of the social and ethical context of King's thinking on nonviolence. Given the situation of racial discrimination in America, King believed that the black community of his day had three basic options in response to their oppression: acquiescence, violent retaliation or nonviolent resistance. King's call for nonviolence must be seen over against his denial of the morality and practicability of violence and nonresistance. This chapter examines King's moral analysis and critique of the ethical choices which he believed confronted the civil rights movement. Often King delineated what he called the basic tenets of nonviolence, explaining that nonviolence is firmly founded upon a philosophical basis. But the fundamental tenets discussed by King are actually the essential elements of his own moral philosophy. Chapter Five is a discussion of the major principles of King's Christian ethics, and particular emphasis has been given to the basic precepts of nonviolent resistance stressed by him throughout his civil rights career. The sixth chapter deals with how King conceived of nonviolence in action. King was as concerned about the praxis of protest as he was about its theoretical basis. Chapter Six draws upon King's ideas on the steps and stages of a nonviolent campaign, supplementing the discussion with historical material relating to his own leadership of direct action. The final chapter of this work discusses King's thinking on justice and power and delineates the dynamic interaction between agapeic love and nonviolent resistance in his thought. King's philosophy of nonviolence was founded upon his realistic view of power, democratic idea of justice and conception of Christian love. Chapter Seven analyzes the creative synthesis wrought by King linking together these important ethical values.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology