[ExI] The Rationality of Belief is Relative

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Thu May 21 18:31:30 UTC 2009

--- On Thu, 5/21/09, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Olga writes
> > From: "Lee Corbin" <lcorbin at rawbw.com>
> > 
> >> Slavery seemed perfectly natural to Aristotle
> >> and Cicero. You consider this a rational lapse
> >> on their parts?
> > 
> > Yes.  (And I would guess that many of the slaves
> probably didn't think slavery was "perfectly natural.")
> Au contraire. Prior to the last five or six
> hundred years, there were only a few people
> who had much sympathy at all for slaves, (I
> mean beyond the natural human empathy we all
> have for some of those not as well off), and
> vanishly few who looked at it as immoral.
> Instead, people tended to look at slavery the
> way we look at poverty, only the most radical
> of us believing that for the 20th century,
> for example, it was a truly evil and
> malignant "institution".

I disagree somewhat.  While for much of written history, the anti-slavery view that now dominates the world, was a minority view, it's an exaggeration to say "vanishly[sic] few who looked at it as immoral."  In Ancient Rome, e.g., there were public outcries against enslavement so that eventually debt slavery was limited.  (Granted, this was not an attack on keeping current slaves enslaved, but just on enslaving free men -- and this is all based on reading and interpeting the history.)  But later on, and still well before the modern period, Saint Patrick, if Thomas Cahill is to be believed, was virulently antislavery and condemned slavery.  (However, Cahill is wrong on one point: Patrick was not the first person we know of to take a complete stance against slavery.  That honor, at this point and as far as I know, goes to Alkidamas, a 4th Century BCE Greek thinker.)  You might think he was only one man, but I think this did go into shaping early Christian
 Ireland as a non-slave society.  IIRC, slavery only came in again with invasions.



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