FREEDOM: FREEDOM IN THE MAKING OF WESTERN CULTURE, by Orlando Patterson.
No small projects for Orlando Patterson. Freedom is grand in scope, heartfelt, and refreshingly old fashioned. By that I mean Patterson offers a “grand narrative” of the sort now under sustained attack in many quarters, and the very fact that it is so thoroughly compelling reminds us of what we have lost.
Patterson’s thesis is robust: the West holds and has held the value of freedom as central. Most non-Western cultures thought little of the notion; indeed, many had no word for it in the Western sense. The story of freedom, for Patterson, is the story of a persistent struggle through which freedom is defined in relation to a condition of unfreedom–slavery and later forms of servitude. His dominant explanatory device is a master-slave dialectic whose dynamics Patterson discerns (no doubt with Hegel in mind) in classical antiquity....
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