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Gandhi and the StoicsModern Experiments on Ancient Values$
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Richard Sorabji

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644339

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644339.001.0001

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Moral conscience

Moral conscience

(p.143) Chapter Eight Moral conscience
Gandhi and the Stoics

Richard Sorabji

Oxford University Press

The Greek expression for conscience meant in the 5th century BCE: sharing with oneself, as if one were split into two, knowledge of a personal defect, not yet always a moral one. The Christian Saint Paul was to link knowledge of the personal with knowledge of a general law of both right and wrong. Gandhi paraphrased in Gujarati Plato's Apology, in which Socrates is portrayed as having an inner warning voice. Platonists were to identify it with conscience, and, like Gandhi, to discuss how it worked. Gandhi treated his own inner voice, like Socrates but unlike Saint Paul, as indubitable, but conceded that it takes practice to hear it aright. He regarded the voice as God's, but as reminding one of values, not as supplying them, and as binding, even when mistaken. Conscience, he thought, speaks only to the individual, but may tell one to change the conduct of others.

Keywords:   moral conscience, sharing knowledge with oneself, Saint Paul, Plato and Platonists, Socrates' inner voice, inner voice thought indubitable, inner voice thought binding, god's voice, conscience and the individual, conscience and others

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