Saturday, January 8, 2022

966: Freedom and Slavery.....

In the year 481 BC two young Spartans, Bulis and Sperthias, went on a journey to Susa to make up for the death of Persian ambassadors.


The Spartans had killed the two Persian ambassadors, when they came to Sparta and demanded submission to the ruler of Persia, Darius the Great.


Herodotus (c. 484 – c. 425 BC), the Greek historian, tells about this journey. Most notable was a meeting with Hydarnes, the Satrap of Asia Minor, 


who was obligated to obedience to Xerxes, son of Darius, and who attempted to talk them into allying themselves with Xerxes. 


Their reply was as follows: "You know indeed what it is to be a slave, but of freedom you have never made trial, whether it be sweet or no. 


Surely if you have made such trial you would counsel us to fight for it, not with the spear only, but also with the battle-ax.


For us the word "freedom"  is a common term. We almost take it for granted that it exists: freedom. But there has been a time that the word not even existed.


However, it seems that the Greeks had an explicit idea about what freedom meant for them. The message of Herodotus' story is clear.


Freedom was for the Greeks of utmost importance. They didn't want to be subjected to the authority of some ruler. That would mean slavery.


This distinction between freedom and slavery was known in all societies of those days. We find words, that mean freedom in Mesopotamian documents that date back to 2400 BC.


But this concept of freedom meant the distinction between personal freedom and personal physical submission as a slave.


It seems that before the Greek nobody used the terms "freedom" and "slavery" in a political to describe and judge certain forms of government.


But that is what the Greeks did. When the two Spartans called Hydarnes a slave, they didn't mean that he was personally submitted to someone.


They called him a slave because he was subjected to an all-mighty king, Xerxes. The Greeks were the first who regarded freedom as a political value.


We, too, still believe that the preservation of freedom requires specific political institutions and that it is possible to distinguish between free and unfree states.


However, we must realize that the ancient Greeks did not invent OUR idea of freedom. When they labeled themselves free, they didn't mean that their government should only interfere with them in a limited way 


or that they had things like fundamental rights, a written constitution, or a separation of powers. 


They meant that, unlike the subjects of the Persian Great King, they were not dominated by others but governed themselves. 


In other words, they had a democratic understanding of freedom. in their eyes a free state was a state in which people determined their own form of government. 


It was not a state in which government intervention was limited as much as possible.


The old Greeks, like Herodotus not only invented this specific definition of freedom but also had a coherent narrative about why it is worth fighting for this freedom.


Thank you for your attention again....

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Annelien de Dijn: "Freedom. An unruly history".  2020


The Discussion

[13:15] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:15] herman Bergson: A rather unique idea...

[13:15] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman

[13:16] herman Bergson: Slavery was a common phenomenon in those days

[13:16] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:17] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true

[13:17] herman Bergson: But the greeks gave freedom as first people freedom a political sense

[13:18] herman Bergson: Other states like Persia were ruled by autocrats, dictators actually

[13:18] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): does that freedom only exsist in a democraty?

[13:18] herman Bergson: They decided whether you live or die

[13:18] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): definition of the word means basically rule by the people

[13:19] herman Bergson: demos means "people"

[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aa

[13:19] herman Bergson: So, yes, this freedom exists only in a democracy, I'd say

[13:19] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): so lot's of people in these days are slaves

[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its true indeed

[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): all other government forms have people under someone else, a king, dictator ect

[13:20] herman Bergson: The people decide how they are governed, no ruler dictates what a judge in court has to do, individuals are protected by civil rights

[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sadly true beertje'

[13:21] herman Bergson: They had in fact little say about there own life.....

[13:21] herman Bergson: If the ruler says...that person has to die...then you died...

[13:21] herman Bergson: or actually were murdered

[13:22] herman Bergson: But the Greeks went against such ideas

[13:23] herman Bergson: Next question is of course, why did they choose so?

[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): because it is a barbaric way

[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): they did not like barbarism

[13:24] herman Bergson: But they could have been the same Bejiita

[13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): most of the time they won't do such a thing without a profit

[13:25] herman Bergson: Maybe it was caused by the fact that they lived in prosperous cities

[13:25] herman Bergson: not willing to pay taxes to some king

[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok

[13:26] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but pay taxes for the profit of the nation

[13:26] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): not to some king

[13:26] herman Bergson: their own city, yes

[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): like it is today

[13:27] herman Bergson: Maybe we'll find a satisfying answer to this question...

[13:28] herman Bergson: the interesting point is that they saw autocracy also as a form of slavery

[13:28] herman Bergson: that was a new view in those days

[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they were right

[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well i don't get any good vibes from that term so

[13:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): look at Belarus

[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): autocracy

[13:29] herman Bergson: In those days the world was mainly ruled by the power of the strongest in the group

[13:30] herman Bergson: In fact the social structure of a group of animals

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa yes

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): same thing I guess

[13:30] herman Bergson: wolves, chimansees etc

[13:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but we are not animals

[13:31] herman Bergson: But the Greeks freed themselves from this way of life

[13:31] herman Bergson: We are part of the animal kingdom, but we have a mind

[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes

[13:32] herman Bergson: And the Greeks used that mind more than others, it seems

[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): already the old greeks

[13:32] herman Bergson: yes

[13:33] herman Bergson: Some 2500 years ago

[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why the Greeks?

[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): no idea

[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes, that is THE question Beertje

[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): their culture maybe

[13:34] herman Bergson: Maybe it was caused by their social organization, how they ran society

[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe they were free to think and ask questions

[13:35] herman Bergson: But why them and not the Egyptians for instance?

[13:35] herman Bergson: I don't know

[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): not everyone is free to ask questions

[13:35] herman Bergson: You are...:-)

[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): how was egyptian culture compared to greeces

[[13:36] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you :))

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i think that might be the key

[13:36] herman Bergson: Egypte was an autocratic kingdom, with its pharaos...

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:36] herman Bergson: Building those pyramides was slavery

[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes

[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): so they were not free in the same manner i think the greeeks were and theywanted to make their culture a statement to the rest of the world and so they invented democracy

[13:37] mika Vemo: According to new findings, where that is not slaves but foreign workers because it is clear that the work cannot be endured

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that THIS is how everyone should have it

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the way of freedom

[13:38] herman Bergson: They did invent democracy, yes

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that is my theory

[13:39] mika Vemo: E.g. the Cheops pyramid that was a water reservoir and not a tomb

[13:39] herman Bergson: Ok....let's continue next Tuesday and try to find out "why the Greeks" some more

[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): good idea

[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): .)

[13:40] bergfrau Apfelbaum: interesting like always! thank you Herman and class

[13:40] herman Bergson: So...thank you all gain for your participation...

[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): this was a good start

[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman

[13:40] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....

[13:41] herman Bergson: Hello Lady Jane

[13:41] Lady Jane Grey (theiarhea): oh dear  :(   I missed another good class  :(

[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes it was very interesing

[13:41] bergfrau Apfelbaum: hi Lady :-)

[13:41] herman Bergson: Coming Tuesday is your next chance :-)

[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa hi Lady

[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes

No comments:

Post a Comment