Research Project

Aysenur Guc, Philosophy

Advisor: Dennis Bathory Political Science

It is often thought that the amelioration of violent conditions comes with external action—engaging in war, using police force, or holding elected officials accountable. Through a comparative study of the work of St. Augustine and Said Nursi, this project explores how introspection, or action within, can play a role in peacemaking in times of social conflict. St. Augustine, a fourth century philosopher and public figure of his time (354-430 CE), offers a remedy to societal problems by emphasizing a process of individual introspection through a reorientation of the self’s object of love and value. Said Nursi, a Muslim scholar from the twentieth century (1877-1960 CE), expresses in his magnum opus, the Risale-i Nur, an existentialist framework that shares great similarity with that of Augustine’s. Fundamental to understanding this framework is the knowledge of how the writings of both scholars are reflections of their personal experiences, not detached theological text. Despite a lifetime of war, exile, and oppression, a recurring theme imbued in Nursi’s writing is on the importance of reforming one’s internal state for lasting societal transformation. Directing the gaze inwardly towards one’s self-loving and prideful tendencies results in the formation of an individual consciousness that serves as a building block of a peaceful society.