"Recasting the Golden Rule: Claude Sumner's Philosophical Contribution Reconsidered."

  • Theodros Assefa Teklu
Keywords: Claude Sumner, Golden Rule, Respect, Wäldä HƏywåt, Zär 'a Ya’Əqob


The analysis of the treatise of Zär'a Ya’Əqob and Wäldä HƏywåt is one example of Claude Sumner's contribution to Ethiopian philosophy that deserves more recognition than the little attention it has attracted in contemporary scholarly engagements. Of particular significance is his analysis of the treatise’s social philosophy as condensed in the universal ethical dictum: the Golden Rule, which is a “precept that one should do as one would be done by." The purpose of this article is to inquire what this particular analysis could contribute to the broader discourse of the Golden Rule to resolve interpretational difficulties, and to the social dimension of human life, focusing on the value of respect that binds people together. To this end, the article begins by clarifying how this moral precept is set in a religious perspective to establish it as a supreme moral principle. Subsequently, the discussion will focus on how such a moral rule fosters the conceptual passage from the teleological (ethical aim) to the deontological (moral norm) and from respect to just relations, serving as a ligament that links both subjective and objective norms. Here, I will argue that this supreme moral principle has a comparative advantage over the Kantian Categorical Imperative. Finally, the paper will conclude by accentuating the moral-philosophical implications of the discussion pertinent to diversity and social cohesion. 

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2520-582X
print ISSN: 1810-4487