Gandhi's Synthesis of Liberal and Communitarian Values: Its Basis and Insights

It is well known that notions of individual sovereignty, universal rights, and the duty to follow one’s own conscience are central to the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. The importance Gandhi places on community, tradition, and fulfilling duties particular to one’s place in life is no less noticeable in his writings. That such is the case may indicate an uneasy tension among different elements in Gandhian philosophy (especially from the perspective of the Western political philosophical tradition). In what follows I argue that an underlying harmony in Gandhi’s philosophy can be noticed among such classic liberal and communitarian values given his overall views on self-realization. I will then show the value Gandhi’s understanding has for contemporary philosophical debates between liberals and communitarians.