Problem Of Non-Violence, Violence And Tolerance In The Modern World (Socio-Philosophical Analysis)


The paper considers the concepts of “violence”, “non-violence”, “tolerance” in the context of philosophy, sociology and management of the modern world. The attention is paid to the interpretation, vidology and history of the study of these concepts. For the first time in domestic thought, the socio-philosophical relationship of non-violence-violence-tolerance in the modern terminological understanding is stated. It is determined that non-violence and tolerance are the basis for social equality and morality of society of the 21st century. The expression of violence in politics, management, life, everyday life, media space is to a large extent present in the modern information society, despite the achievements of humanistic concepts of the past and the orientation towards the preservation and multiplication of human capital. Based on the assertion that man is the highest value, which is enshrined in a number of international legal instruments and, as a result, reflected in the national legislation of the most states, non-violent technologies in governance and social communication based on the principles of tolerance, mutual respect, pluralism and humanism, it is necessary to give a detailed analysis of the definitions of “violence”, “non-violence”, “tolerance” and their interpretation in the realities of society of the 21st century. The evolution of concepts of their new understanding and applied meaning is caused by the social expectations of society. The global problems of humankind are also related to the problem of violence and non-violence.

Keywords: Non-violence, tolerance, violence, responsibility, society, social philosophy


In a series of global threats to humanity, violence occupies one of the first places. Against the background of the development of ideas of humanism and pacifist movements around the world, there are conflicts (interethnic, religious, political, etc.) in different parts of the world accompanied by bloodshed.

The interaction of “violence” and “non-violence” reflects one of many dialectical contradictions that form an integral and important part of our existence. In ontological and semantic terms, the concept of “non-violence” opposes “violence”, “peace” – “war”, and “good” – “evil...”. For all these concepts are organically interrelated, one cannot exist without the other, and together they constitute the harmony of the world. The dialectics of the explored opposites began to shift smoothly into the dialectics of “good” and “evil” (Konuhova, 2014).

Violence is one of the most acute social problems, since it not only affects the victims, but also destabilizes the society as a whole, threatens social order (Rostovskya & Bezverbnya, 2020).

It should be noted that the concept of tolerance is closely linked to the ideas of violence and non-violence.

Even in ancient times, thinkers tried to develop a universal principle of non-violent interaction of people taking into account existing gender, social, personal and other differences.

Due to semantic saturation the concept of “tolerance” is a kind of ethical doctrine of our time. Therefore, along with the foundations of democracy, the human rights system, tolerance today is the guiding principle, which fosters education, upbringing and development of an individual and forms humane relations in the society (Abramovskikh & Guseinova, 2015).

The problem of tolerance in inter-ethnic relations as the basis for a dialogue between cultures, faiths and nationalities became particularly acute in the first two decades of the 21st century.

As an example of problem actualization it is worth citing the examples of studies conducted in Moscow, which is quite indicative and has sufficient representativeness in terms of population density and ethnic and confessional composition of the region.

The studies suggest that the hotbeds of tension in the field of ethno-confessional relations primarily relate to interethnic relations. If we compare those dissatisfied with the situation in Moscow within social groups, then the number of such respondents is more among the indigenous inhabitants of the capital compared to visitors; among men versus women, in the young versus older group. Among the presented reasons for the conflict of interethnic relations, one can identify both dominant (fundamental) and concomitant (not always accompanying interethnic tensions), i.e. they are both objective and subjective. Among the first reasons are, first of all, heavy migration flows that the city does not cope with; low level of material security of most Muscovites; difficult socio-domestic and socio-economic situation in the city; significant differences in the mentality of indigenous and visiting citizens, i.e. the difference in national cultures of different population groups (morals, traditions, rites, norms, habits, etc.) (Kublitskya, 2009).

Problem Statement

By analyzing the evolution of perceptions and interpretations of the concepts of “violence”, “non-violence”, “tolerance” it is obvious that the society and the norms of social interaction of society of the 21st century require significant addition and specificity of certain aspects of these concepts.

From the perspective of sociology, toleration and tolerance are synonymous concepts, the essence of which is the acceptance of personal and individual differences in the way of life, external attributes, and various kinds of socio-cultural expression by public opinion.

In social space, the problem of tolerance as a response to violence is expressed not only in inter-ethnic and interfaith relations, and in the acceptance of individual personal differences, but speaking of a higher scale it is also expressed in the differences between social groups in societies with pronounced stratification boundaries and the separation of people into strata according to the criteria of access to material and spiritual benefits.

The interrelationship and mutual influence of the theoretical constructs of “non-violence” and “tolerance” are also closely intertwined in the practice of social interaction and worldview concepts of the modern world. By raising important ethical issues, they are reflected in daily practice in the political sphere, models of governance, the evolution of ethical standards, etc.

Research Questions

The subject of the study are the definitions of “violence”, “non-violence”, “tolerance”.

3.1. The content of any social managerial influence in relation to a person, a member of the society, is expressed through the coordination of his personal efforts combined with the efforts of other individuals in order to achieve a certain joint objective, the joint result of actions.

In this regard, the question of the form of social influence on the individual is closely intertwined with the philosophical concept of the free expression of the individual will of a person. The existential question: “Is a person free in his actions?” takes on a completely different sound in the context of any social contact, especially in the context of interaction organized in order to achieve a predetermined joint result, as a foreseeable, rationally expected future.

All institutions of human interaction, whether religion, morality, ideology, law or state, are the tools of social restriction of individualism. “Since the social institution includes certain patterns and norms, we can talk about the regulatory, limiting functions of the social institution, since the norms are established, i.e. the expected, normal, predictable and somewhat controlled behavior of people” (Osipova, 2011, p. 84).

In some modern communities, where understanding of liberalism prevails every day, social restriction is mistakenly perceived as a form of coercion and causes persistent vulgar rejection. In the meanwhile, social restriction or even social “coercion” of certain patterns of individual behavior is aimed at creating a stable social system that ensures the survival of both the human community as a whole and each individual. The destruction of these institutions, for example, with the help of the ideals of “vulgar individualism” and “militant tolerance” actively introduced into the public consciousness, inevitably leads to easily predicted consequences that threaten the human population from the point of view of evolutionary survival.

In a society where healthy mechanisms of an “immune” response to socially dangerous behavior do not work, all forms of social influence that force an individual to socially useful behavior are often perceived precisely as a form of violence and are actively denied.

The unabated social debate on this issue suggests that in modern society the issues of acceptability, admissibility, degree and forms of social coercion (or violence) over the “free expression of individual will” do not lose their sharpness.

In any even superficial analysis of joint human activity it turns out that mutual social restriction, often flowing into some forms of socially acceptable coercion, is an integral part of normal human interaction in all spheres of life, such as employment, training, joint domestic coexistence, etc. At the same time, the boundaries of social phenomena of “restriction”, “coercion” and “violence” in each sphere of human interaction are very mobile and depend not only on the traditional patterns of social behavior in the area under consideration, but also, to a large extent, on the individual level of intellectual development of interacting individuals, their level of morality and the peculiarities of national-cultural traditions.

In order to achieve a certain joint result, a person is inclined to undertake the acts of violence both in relation to himself, which is called a “strong-willed effort”, and in relation to individuals with whom he enters into social interaction, here we talk about “social restriction” and “violence’. Moreover, any success achieved within the framework of human evolution is primarily based on overcoming animal momentary aspirations, i.e. on limiting the “free expression of individual will” and directing joint and individual efforts towards achieving the result. In this regard, social restriction as a form of violence is precisely the type of influence that should be considered as a way of managerial influence and regulation (Gelikh, 2004). Without a certain measure of violence, it is impossible to achieve any result. This statement determines, first of all, the relevance of the research topic.

Quite long ago, the outstanding thinkers of mankind analyzed violence from the point of view of its inevitability or usefulness. Despite the abundance of descriptions related to the forms of violence in the field of social management in modern world journalism, in modern scientific thought there is a need for a dialectical understanding of the concept of “violence” in relation to the concept of “social management”.

3.2. From the position of the philosophy of “non-violence” – ethical, cultural and socio-philosophical “principle, according to which the boundaries of morality coincide with the denial of violence” (Guseynov, 2018, par. 3). The term “non-violence” is similar in German to the concept of “Gewaltlosigkeit”, in English and French “nonviolence” is not an exact translation from Sanskrit of the term “ahiṃsā” meaning non-murder, “non-harm to all living in physical, mental, emotional” (Mezentseva, 2018). The emergence of non-violence as a value is possibly associated with the formation of an anthropological worldview in the era of Axial Time (German – Achsenzeit), which was designated by K. Jaspers. The idea of ​ ​ non-violence is a normative concretization of the “golden rule of morality” (Guseynov, 2018). In European culture, the idea of non-violence was primarily introduced by the Christian ethic expressed in the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus Christ.

The most important transformation of views on the concept of non-violence is primarily associated with such philosophers and public figures as L.N. Tolstoy, M. Gandhi, M.L. King. They understood the idea of non-violence as the first principle of morality that either absolutely does not allow violence in practical use (L.N. Tolstoy), or it allows it in extremely limited cases (M. Gandhi) (Manocha et al., 2005).

Revealing the concept of “non-violence” more extensively and more precisely it can be stated that non-violence is a philosophy, a way of life, which, on the basis of the rule of truth of love, involves personal, social and interethnic changes in order to overcome injustice in achieving peace. Non-violence is not passivity, but represents an active moral, religious and philosophical (Hendriks, 2018), socio-political (Frazer & Hutchings, 2014) position opposing violence and evil. The philosophy of non-violence can develop ideas either without regard to whether they will be applied or not, or focuses on mandatory application. Therefore, the philosophy of non-violence is extranormative or normative. It is the philosophy of non-violence that forms the moral guidelines of a person.

In sociology, as Smolyanichenko (2003) writes, there are three vectors of the use of non-violent actions. Firstly, defense carried out against the external and internal enemy; Secondly, social change and conflict resolution; thirdly, mediation in the settlement of disputes and conflict situations, i.e. the phenomenon of “non-violence” as a form of social cognitive practice to resolve existing contradictions. However, the practice of the phenomenon of non-violence will be the main way to neutralize social upheavals and conflicts, provided that it becomes an ideological, value-based orientation of both the individual and the society, both individual and social consciousness. However, the representatives of modern sociology do not answer the question of the degree to which people follow “the values of violence in their daily actions, in the implementation of life success models, i.e. in interpersonal relations”. However, if the phenomenon of non-violence has not become the value of personal consciousness embodied in the society, it is not possible to assert that social groups will be able to “demonstrate non-violent patterns of behavior in resolving conflicts of various kinds”.

At the same time, an accurate understanding of the idea of non-violence as a uniform method of behavior is difficult to find in the theory and practice of thinking and behavior of individuals. According to R.G. Apresyan, the conceptual dialogue “violence-non-violence” is the most important criterion not only of moral, but also of socio-political assessments. However, the deep principles of the idea of non-violence by the general public remain understood superficially (as cited in Omoyibo & Asekhauno, 2016). Therefore, special practical work is needed to explain the ideas of non-violence in the society (Smolyanichenko, 2003).

Social governance and management are not possible without violence, conflict and coercion. However, non-violence, the values of spiritual love, good, justice as the categories opposed to violence and evil can be inscribed in morally structured and humanistic management. The value of the idea of non-violence is that it has personal and socio-philosophical power, since it claims that love has an internal ontological characteristic of a person. Accordingly, the special power of government as a form of personal and social interactions contains not only aggressiveness and rivalry, but also spiritual love for everything living. Therefore, non-violence is a method of social management of exceptionally strong people, since it is aimed at the benefit of both the subject and the object of management. The dissertation of Gelikh (2004) proposes the Management Program of Non-Violence, the methodological foundations of. Thus, it states the need: 1. to abandon the full authority of the administrator, to understand the truth in relation to the object of leadership, demonstrating his readiness for cognitive cooperation; 2. to form a critical attitude of the administrator to his own thinking and behavior “in order to identify what could feed the evil of the people under his leadership”; 3. to develop the ability to “analyze the situation through the eyes of their subordinates in order to understand them and find a way out in a situation of misunderstanding of each other that would allow the latter to save face and get out of the situation with honor and dignity; 4. to urge the administrator himself “to fight evil in something else while loving him as a person behind this evil and possessing good at the same time”; 5. to be based on absolute openness in behavior. However, the author states that it is difficult to implement the “program of non-violence” due to a dialectical interaction of good and evil in the nature of man, and accordingly social management (Gelikh, 2004).

3.3 The concept of toleration is closely related to the narrower, more substantive and widely applicable concept of tolerance.

Article 1 of the Declaration of Principles of Tolerance adopted by the resolution 5.61 of the UNESCO General Conference of 16 November 1995, gives several definitions of tolerance:

  • tolerance means respecting, accepting and correctly understanding the rich diversity of the cultures of our world, our forms of expression and the ways in which human individuality is manifested; this is harmony in diversity; virtue, which makes it possible to achieve peace and promotes the replacement of the culture of war with the culture of peace;
  • tolerance is not concession, leniency or indulgence, but above all an active attitude based on the recognition of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • tolerance is the duty to promote human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law; it is the concept that means the rejection of dogmatism, the absolution of truth and the affirmation of the norms established in international human rights instruments.

In summary, the authors note that tolerance should be understood as an active adoption of the multipolarity of the world, a variety of cultural forms and individual characteristics, implying conflict-free non-violent interaction.

The universality of the concepts of toleration and tolerance is manifested in a wide range of their application in social interaction, reflected in formal and informal rules of conduct.

At the same time, tolerance cannot be ubiquitous.

As Samokhvalova (2008) notes... “Tolerance to evil as the actual nondistinction of good and evil, tolerance to disgrace as the nondistinction of the beautiful and ugly make the world unstructured in a new way, as if without quality, meaningfully blurred, therefore in a new way unrecognizable...” (p. 202).

In practical terms, it can be assumed that this was the key mistake of the policy of multiculturalism in the model that was formed and introduced in a number of countries in Western Europe.

Tolerance as an instrument of social interaction and communication should not imply indulgence and disregard of emerging problems, but an opportunity to build a dialogue towards mutually beneficial cooperation based on the recognition of differences.

The social importance of tolerance is high enough due to the desire to overcome social inequality, the standards of pluralism and democracy.

From the point of view of social governance, tolerance is the basis for non-violent interaction in order to achieve the set objectives. Governance is an area of human activity where interaction between actors presupposes rationality. When considered superficially, rationality reflects efficiency in achieving goals. But such an approach does not always imply violent nature of interactions.

Given modern perceptions of the humanistic content of governance and the desire to preserve human capital, tolerance takes on new meanings.

The development of rational actions requires effective communication, the main condition of which is such a social institution as tolerance, includes the requirements of ethical standards in communication, and the development of social responsibility of business to the society, and a tool (instrument) that helps to increase profitability thus strengthening business ties and improving business communication (Shansherova, 2009).

Purpose of the Study

To consider the interrelationships between the concepts of “non-violence”, “violence”, “tolerance” in their socio-philosophical meaning and to define that the values of non-violence and tolerance form the basis for social equality and morality of the society in the 21st century.

Research Methods

The study used traditional and modern social, socio-philosophical and ethical methodological achievements. The methodological basis of the study included such methods as literature analysis, structural-functional analysis of concepts, inductive analysis of concepts, deductive analysis of concepts, dialectical, systemic analysis of social modern problems.


While conflicts do not always lead to either forms of violence, the practice showed that we shall not ignore the threats of the possible violent nature of social processes at the international level, as well as the threats of violent methods of resolving conflicts of interest within any social structure in building governance systems as well as addressing the sustainability of social systems.

Non-violence as a philosophical category contains a statement of ontological “built-in” idea of spiritual love that denies any violence; as a social category expressed in the relationship between the individual and society, contains models of behavior: defense, conflict resolution and mediation; as a category in the field of social management embodied in the inevitability of the use of non-violence in management practices, as well as in the creation of the Management Program of Non-Violence.

In its socio-philosophical and applied meaning tolerance permeates all social relations and is both a principle and a tool of social interaction between the subjects of the social space. Being closely linked in its interpretation to the ideas of non-violence, the problem of tolerance gets its continuation in modern humanistic management technologies.


In today’s world, there is an urgent need to conduct a profound social and in-depth philosophical analysis of social relations, social and political processes, as well as individual actions of each member of the social community from the point of view of a deeper rethinking of the connection and understanding between violence, non-violence and tolerance. This paper makes an attempt to address this challenge.


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17 May 2021

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Pryakhin, N. G., Chernykh, A. B., Kostin, G. A., & Andronov, I. S. (2021). Problem Of Non-Violence, Violence And Tolerance In The Modern World (Socio-Philosophical Analysis). In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1848-1855). European Publisher.