Gandhi's individual freedom and Isaiah Berlin on Zeno's—sour grapes?

Richard Sorabji

in Gandhi and the Stoics

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644339
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745812 | DOI:
Gandhi's individual freedom and Isaiah Berlin on Zeno's—sour grapes?

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Isaiah Berlin at first denied that the Stoic conception of freedom was freedom at all. But the Stoic Zeno transformed the freedom enjoyed by his Cynic teachers, who mocked popular objectives. Instead, he allowed that natural objectives were preferable and demanded pursuit, but coined the idea that they were preferred indifferents. The indifference freed one from slavery to needs, the preferability made these objectives respectable. Virtue regained the centrality that Socrates had given it, by being the one important thing. The freedom that mattered, ability to be one's own agent (autopragia), was compatible with being subordinate, or even owned. True autopragia, required reducing one's self-conception to exclude indifferents. One can be enslaved even to books. For Gandhi too, the freedom that mattered was rule over oneself, which was needed for the lesser freedom from subordination to rulers. That subordination came from seeking British employment, instead of reducing oneself to zero.

Keywords: freedom; Isaiah Berlin; Zeno of Citium; cynics; preferred indifferents; autopragia; being one's own agent; dist subordination; dist. being owned as a slave; self; conception of

Chapter.  7727 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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