Gandhi and the Stoics: Modern Experiments on Ancient Values

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 6, 2012 - History - 224 pages
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“Was Gandhi a philosopher? Yes.” So begins this remarkable investigation of the guiding principles that motivated the transformative public acts of one of the top historical figures of the twentieth century. Richard Sorabji, continuing his exploration of the many connections between South Asian thought and ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, brings together in this volume the unlikely pairing of Mahatma Gandhi and the Stoics, uncovering a host of parallels that suggests a deep affinity spanning the two millennia between them. While scholars have long known Gandhi’s direct Western influences to be Platonic and Christian, Sorabji shows how a look at Gandhi’s convergence with the Stoics works mutually, throwing light on both of them. Both emphasized emotional detachment, which provided a necessary freedom, a suspicion of universal rules of conduct that led to a focus not on human rights but human duties—the personally determined paths each individual must make for his or her self. By being indifferent, paradoxically, both the Stoics and Gandhi could love manifoldly. In drawing these links to the fore, Sorabji demonstrates the comparative consistency of Gandhi’s philosophical ideas, isolating the specific ideological strengths that were required to support some of the most consequential political acts and experiments in how to live.
  

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Contents

how to square it with love of family and all humans in the Stoics and Gandhi
23
how to square it with politics in the Stoics and Gandhi
46
3 Gandhis individual freedom and Isaiah Berlin on Zenossour grapes?
56
origins and Gandhis supplements to Tolstoydilemmas successes and failures
74
5 From universal love to human rights?
99
is duty universalizable or unique to the individual?
109
7 Hesitations about general rules in morality
125
8 Moral conscience
143
9 Restrictions on private property in Gandhi Christianity Plato and the Stoics
155
depoliticization
179
11 Gandhis philosophical credentials his lapses and his distance from other philosophers
196
Select Bibliography
205
Index
211
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About the author (2012)

Richard Sorabji is Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College at Oxford University and fellow and emeritus professor at King's College, London. He is the editor of over one hundred books and author of twelve, including Aristotle on Memory; Necessity, Cause, and Blame; and Self, all published by the University of Chicago Press. 

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