Freedom in the Making of Western Culture

Orlando Patterson, Author Basic Books $29.95 (487p) ISBN 978-0-465-02535-0
How did freedom--personal, civic and political--become such a powerful value in the Western world? According to this groundbreaking study, the interaction among masters, slaves, serfs and native nonslaves in ancient times gave rise to both the concept of freedom and a commitment to it. Harvard sociology professor Patterson argues that male, small-time farmers, through their relations with large-scale, slaveholding counterparts, gave birth to civic freedom as a value. He further contends that it was women who invented the ideal of personal freedom, which was closely linked to justice, and being true to oneself and to ``significant others.'' Challenging conventional readings of the so-called Dark Ages, Patterson holds that chords of freedom resounded through the medieval period. First half of a projected two-volume opus, this intellectually rich work redefines a whole field of inquiry as it ranges over Greek tragedy and philosophy, Roman history, the emergence of Christianity, and medieval secular and religious thought. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1991
Release date: 07/01/1991
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-465-02532-9
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