From universal love to human rights?

Richard Sorabji

in Gandhi and the Stoics

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644339
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745812 | DOI:
From universal love to human rights?

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The Stoics moved from the naturalness of love for all to the novel and important conclusion that justice was owed to all. Gandhi connected universal love instead with non-violence. Neither Gandhi nor the Stoics were recommending universal human rights, the Stoics chiefly because they regarded it as ‘indifferent’ whether justice succeeded in meeting human needs. The important thing was rather the virtue exercised in attempting to meet human needs, or, in the Christian version of John Chrysostom, the sin shown in not attempting. The stress on the importance of virtue may still have been as effective in meeting human needs. Gandhi equally preferred talk of human duties to talk of human rights, for the different reason, that insistence on one's rights can lead to violence. He further claimed that it was only by performing his own duties to his family that he gained his right to their respect.

Keywords: love for all; justice for all; human rights; Stoics; John Chrysostom; rights and violence; rights earned by performing duties

Chapter.  4655 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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