A blupete Essay

Freedom and the Law, Part 8 to blupete's Essay
"On Liberty"

"Freedom consists in a people's being governed by laws made with their own consent." [Swift: Drapier's Letters (1725).]
It was a peculiar consequence of the Greek point of view, as thus described, that the individual as such was of no account as beside the state. We ourselves indeed, in our modern free democracies, think nothing so high, so noble as when the individual sacrifices his life for his country - the last supreme sacrifice. But the Greek point of view was something quite different. It meant that the individual had no rights that could not be sacrificed, by others, for the general welfare. We may pretend to such a view, but on real contact we shrink from it; the killing off of deformed children, putting idiots "out of the way," knocking old people on the head: fills us with instinctive horror. Even the painless killing of people hopelessly suffering before an inevitable death leaves us perplexed. The sanctity of human life "beats us out." To the Greek there was no problem in such things as these, and least of all to the Spartans, with whom the citizen's life was incased in an iron mould of authority. What the Greeks really cherished was the liberty and independence of their own little city-state.

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Peter Landry

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