pacifism


pac·i·fism

noun \ˈpa-sə-ˌfi-zəm\

: the belief that it is wrong to use war or violence to settle disputes

Full Definition of PACIFISM

1
:  opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; specifically :  refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds
2
:  an attitude or policy of nonresistance
pac·i·fist \-fist\ noun

Origin of PACIFISM

French pacifisme, from pacifique pacific
First Known Use: 1902

Rhymes with PACIFISM

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pacifism

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

The doctrine that war and violence as a means of settling disputes is morally wrong. The first genuinely pacifist movement was Buddhism, whose founder demanded from his followers absolute abstention from any act of violence against their fellow creatures. The ancient Greek conception of pacifism applied to individual conduct rather than to the actions of peoples or kingdoms. The Romans conceived of pax, or peace, as a covenant between states or kingdoms that creates a “just” situation based on mutual recognition. This judicial approach was applicable only to the “civilized world,” however. Though the spoken words of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament could be interpreted as a kind of pacifism (and in fact were so interpreted by many of his early followers), from the early 3rd century through the Middle Ages the Christian church itself held that armies were necessary to combat nonbelievers or demons. In the 17th and 18th centuries, much pacifist thinking was based on the idea that transferring power from sovereigns to the people would result in peace, because, it was claimed, wars were a product of sovereigns' ambitions and pride. In the 19th and 20th centuries, pacifism inspired widespread interest in general disarmament and in the creation of international organizations for the peaceful resolution of disputes, such as the League of Nations and the United Nations. Pacifism as a national policy, rather than as a standard of individual conduct, has yet to satisfactorily address the problem of an aggressor that does not possess similar moral scruples. Individual pacifism may lead one to become a conscientious objector. Historically important pacifists include Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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