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Understanding Peace Holistically

From the Spiritual to the Political

Scherto Gill and Garrett Thomson

Understanding Peace Holistically: From the Spiritual to the Political argues that spiritually rooted and morally oriented peacefulness is relevant to the socio-economic–political structures that provide the conditions for a culture of peace. As the authors build up a theory of peace from the spiritual to the relational and communal towards the socio-political, this book also identifies key principles that characterise international and institutional processes that nurture peace. The holistic conception of peace developed in this book may guide and inspire individuals, institutions, and international organisations with regards to how to make peace.

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Peace studies should be the study of peace! Let us explore some of the contentious implications of this tautology. The field ought to be the study of peace, and not merely of the study of war and violence, and their prevention. However, this has been obscured because the contemporary field of peace studies tends to get absorbed into security studies, and war and conflict studies. The concepts that define these fields are distinct from those of peace studies. Primarily, this disparity lies in the conceptions of peace—between positive and negative conceptions of peace, both of which we examine in this book. This is a significant difference. Consider intuitively how living in a peaceful family differs from living in one that simply doesn’t fight.

‘Peace’ is a normative or evaluative concept and, because of this, peace studies involves some commitments to values. However, for understandable reasons, positivist approaches in the social sciences investigate only empirical questions, and more often, those that yield quantifiable answers. This implies that the systematic study of peace as a value will tend to be side-lined in data-driven approaches that are limited to what is measurable and to a specific discipline. In fact, the study of peace should involve a transdisciplinary investigation that requires more than a strict scientific approach precisely because of its implicit commitments.←1 | 2→

We study peace to help bring peace to the world. The study of peace is motivated by a deep commitment to peace,...

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