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On Violence and Force

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By awhitesides
Words 1194
Pages 5
To sum up: politically speaking, it is insufficient to say that power and violence are not the same. Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance. This implies that it is not correct to think of the opposite of violence as nonviolence; to speak of nonviolent power is actually redundant. Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it (Arendt, 56).

All too often a distinction between words such as power, strength, force, authority, and violence are not drawn. These words are rarely defined to their natural state and are commonly mistakenly used as synonyms for one another. Hannah Arendt a German political theorist finds this all too common misconception a major concern, and makes an effort to clearly distinguish between each in her work On Violence. “ Yet it is fair to presume that they refer to different properties, and their meaning should therefore be carefully assessed and examined… The correct use of these words is a question not only of logical grammar, but of historical perspective.” “To use them as synonyms not only indicates a certain deafness to linguistic meanings, which would be serious enough, but it also resulted in a kind of blindness to the realities they correspond to.”(42) The quotation at the top of the page is an excerpt from Arendt’s novel that explains the distinctions between violence and power. Arendt explains how violence and power, which are often used synonymously, are in fact opposite of one another. Power is characterized by a group’s ability to facilitate control over others. Where as violence is an action that is prompted in the hopes of gaining power.
When there is power present, there is no violence, when power is up for grabs there is always violence. Violence is...

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