No man is free who is not a master of himself

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heracleitos
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

Post by heracleitos »

Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:38 pm With the word of 'slave', I think the concept of freedom does not agree very well. Anyone can follow any god or His teachings, but being a slave, IMO, is going too far.
That is something with the connotations that the word "slave" has in English, which are quite negative.

In Islamic culture, the term "slave" has different connotations.

For example, the grand vizier (=prime minister) of the Ottoman sultan was technically a slave of the sultan, and quite proud about that too. Same for most of his army generals and his civil bureaucrats. The sultan himself was always the son of a foreign slave girl. The sultan himself not a slave because his father wasn't.

A freeborn woman could not marry the sultan. Freeborn individuals were actually excluded from almost all central imperial positions of power, with the notable exception of the judiciary and the clergy. So, the entire bureaucratic elite that governed the empire were from top to bottom technically all "slaves".

Therefore, the Islamic notion of "slave" corresponds much more to "servant" in English, such as in the term "civil servant".

Furthermore, these "slaves" could often not get manumitted into freedom against their will. They could insist on lifelong slavery/employment, unlike freeborn people, who had no such right. You could divorce a freeborn wife but not a (pregnant) slave girl. Getting rid of slaves was actually an entire problem because the unwilling ones could even legally appeal against that.
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

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Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 10:15 pm
LuckyR wrote: May 9th, 2022, 4:10 am
Sushan wrote: May 7th, 2022, 10:10 pm This topic is about the May 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, The Maestro Monologue: Discover your Genius, Defeat your intruder, Design your destiny by Rob White


No man is free who is not a master of himself
- Epictetus

I see many hindrances to fulfill this quote in today's world since 'me' is not the only factor that determines how I should be. This is similar to  the concept of 'free will' which can raise issues when trying to apply practically.

But I would like to direct this topic to a recent trend that I noticed. People used to work under employers for quite a long time. There have been (and there will be as well) many conflicts between employers and employees regarding rights of each other, working hours, salary, etc. But today many people have become gig workers / freelancers who are employed under no one, but work by themselves. So you are the boss of your own self. IMO It is not a very safe way to have an income since you are not guaranteed a fixed pay, and you do not have a job agreement or a payslip to forward to a bank to get a loan, which can be very crucial at times. Yet more and more people choose this path.

Is it because people feel like being their own masters is better than good financial security? Are people that much reluctant to be or work under someone else?
Free? Free from what? When one has desires and needs there is internal pressure to meet them. In the modern world money is the medium by which we acquire goods and services. For most the source of money is income and income generally come from working. The popularity of the gig economy is a by-product of the drop in real wages in the current economy. In the past workers usually chose employment since the monetary compensation was higher, though answering to a boss was undesirable. With real wages so low, why not make a similar pittance in the gig economy and get time off whenever you want and make your own hours.

Those who do not require an income are free from working and are not subject to the whims of others. That is the best part of retirement.
Until you have your desires you are not free, that is what Lord Buddha said, and that is quite true. As you said, we do all the stuff to make money and achieve our desires and goals. So we are bound to do our jobs, whether they are gigs or traditional stuff.

But keeping that aside, going to a job has its own benefits. You meet friends, you travel from home to your workplace, you can getaway from the household conflicts 😉, etc. When you are retired, yes, you do not have to work but you will continue to get some money. But all the other benefits of working are lost, along with some amount of money because pension is much less compared to salary unless you have some other pension plan.
No doubt many if not most get social benefits from the workplace. Though it is an error not to acknowledge that these same or at least similar benefits can be obtained in the absence of work. Unemployment when younger usually carries significant social stigma, whereas retirement is almost universally honored.
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

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Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:54 pm Trade unions are still in action in my country. And I personally feel like they are abusing their power of the high number of members to get unfair requests.
You feel that the vast majority having their say is "abuse"? Pragmatically, there are 1000s of worker for every manager. Isn't it right and proper that they, the vast majority, should have a very significant say in the wealth they create, and its subsequent disposition? Is it right and proper that the tiniest of minorities sit at the top of the pyramid, benefitting from the wealth-creation done by others? I wonder which of these is "abuse", and which is fair and just?


Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:54 pm And the main issue with trade unions is that they having political agendas, and using their members to start and carry on political unrest in the country.
The union is its members. It does not "use" its members; its members use it. And of course such a large group of people, organised in an industrial environment, has political aims and aspirations. It is difficult to imagine a human organisation of this type that doesn't have a political agenda. And, if it should be that there is "unrest" in a country where the efforts of the many mostly enrich the few, is that really surprising? More to the point, is it not right and proper?
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

Post by Pattern-chaser »

Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:59 pm I think what Sanders is trying to say is, "money should be fairly distributed". If we collect money from all the billionaires and distribute them among poors, many of the needs can be fulfilled (well, it may not be a long lasting solution since poverty is not a problem that can be addressed easily). Yet, they do provide jobs for thousands of people, and I see like I am seeing a paradox here.
Yes, they provide the opportunity for thousands of people to enrich them, the billionaires. I wonder if the word you were searching for could've been, not "paradox", but "parasite"?
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

Post by Sushan »

heracleitos wrote: May 18th, 2022, 11:04 pm
Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:38 pm With the word of 'slave', I think the concept of freedom does not agree very well. Anyone can follow any god or His teachings, but being a slave, IMO, is going too far.
That is something with the connotations that the word "slave" has in English, which are quite negative.

In Islamic culture, the term "slave" has different connotations.

For example, the grand vizier (=prime minister) of the Ottoman sultan was technically a slave of the sultan, and quite proud about that too. Same for most of his army generals and his civil bureaucrats. The sultan himself was always the son of a foreign slave girl. The sultan himself not a slave because his father wasn't.

A freeborn woman could not marry the sultan. Freeborn individuals were actually excluded from almost all central imperial positions of power, with the notable exception of the judiciary and the clergy. So, the entire bureaucratic elite that governed the empire were from top to bottom technically all "slaves".

Therefore, the Islamic notion of "slave" corresponds much more to "servant" in English, such as in the term "civil servant".

Furthermore, these "slaves" could often not get manumitted into freedom against their will. They could insist on lifelong slavery/employment, unlike freeborn people, who had no such right. You could divorce a freeborn wife but not a (pregnant) slave girl. Getting rid of slaves was actually an entire problem because the unwilling ones could even legally appeal against that.
I have never heard about that concept, and thank you for enlightening me. But the mere idea is quite difficult to comprehend, and seemingly it does not go along with many of today's cultures. Being an employee is one thing, but being a servant is quite different (with the naming of slave). And that concept has been developed within the male-dominant society concept. Otherwise how can being a son of a slave mother will be no issue to become a Sultan just because the father was the Sultan? Throughout history we see a number of kings and queens who have Royal decents, and the princes who have born out of that decent have been simply not given any rights to Royalty. The concept you mentioned is quite hard to digest.
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

Post by Sushan »

LuckyR wrote: May 19th, 2022, 3:11 am
Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 10:15 pm
LuckyR wrote: May 9th, 2022, 4:10 am
Sushan wrote: May 7th, 2022, 10:10 pm This topic is about the May 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, The Maestro Monologue: Discover your Genius, Defeat your intruder, Design your destiny by Rob White



- Epictetus

I see many hindrances to fulfill this quote in today's world since 'me' is not the only factor that determines how I should be. This is similar to  the concept of 'free will' which can raise issues when trying to apply practically.

But I would like to direct this topic to a recent trend that I noticed. People used to work under employers for quite a long time. There have been (and there will be as well) many conflicts between employers and employees regarding rights of each other, working hours, salary, etc. But today many people have become gig workers / freelancers who are employed under no one, but work by themselves. So you are the boss of your own self. IMO It is not a very safe way to have an income since you are not guaranteed a fixed pay, and you do not have a job agreement or a payslip to forward to a bank to get a loan, which can be very crucial at times. Yet more and more people choose this path.

Is it because people feel like being their own masters is better than good financial security? Are people that much reluctant to be or work under someone else?
Free? Free from what? When one has desires and needs there is internal pressure to meet them. In the modern world money is the medium by which we acquire goods and services. For most the source of money is income and income generally come from working. The popularity of the gig economy is a by-product of the drop in real wages in the current economy. In the past workers usually chose employment since the monetary compensation was higher, though answering to a boss was undesirable. With real wages so low, why not make a similar pittance in the gig economy and get time off whenever you want and make your own hours.

Those who do not require an income are free from working and are not subject to the whims of others. That is the best part of retirement.
Until you have your desires you are not free, that is what Lord Buddha said, and that is quite true. As you said, we do all the stuff to make money and achieve our desires and goals. So we are bound to do our jobs, whether they are gigs or traditional stuff.

But keeping that aside, going to a job has its own benefits. You meet friends, you travel from home to your workplace, you can getaway from the household conflicts 😉, etc. When you are retired, yes, you do not have to work but you will continue to get some money. But all the other benefits of working are lost, along with some amount of money because pension is much less compared to salary unless you have some other pension plan.
No doubt many if not most get social benefits from the workplace. Though it is an error not to acknowledge that these same or at least similar benefits can be obtained in the absence of work. Unemployment when younger usually carries significant social stigma, whereas retirement is almost universally honored.
Yes. It is a social norm for a man to have a job. A jobless fellow is seen as a useless one, and it is quite a stigma as you said. And if you do not have a job but still you have enough money to expend, then people may label you as a drug dealer or someone like that who earns illegally. The concept of online earning is not widely accepted in many societies even today because technology has not reached to every place in the world. So many still harbour the conventional idea that one should do a job when he is young and when such a fellow is retired he is treated as a wise guy who served his country and society with honour.
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

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Pattern-chaser wrote: May 19th, 2022, 1:02 pm
Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:54 pm Trade unions are still in action in my country. And I personally feel like they are abusing their power of the high number of members to get unfair requests.
You feel that the vast majority having their say is "abuse"? Pragmatically, there are 1000s of worker for every manager. Isn't it right and proper that they, the vast majority, should have a very significant say in the wealth they create, and its subsequent disposition? Is it right and proper that the tiniest of minorities sit at the top of the pyramid, benefitting from the wealth-creation done by others? I wonder which of these is "abuse", and which is fair and just?


Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:54 pm And the main issue with trade unions is that they having political agendas, and using their members to start and carry on political unrest in the country.
The union is its members. It does not "use" its members; its members use it. And of course such a large group of people, organised in an industrial environment, has political aims and aspirations. It is difficult to imagine a human organisation of this type that doesn't have a political agenda. And, if it should be that there is "unrest" in a country where the efforts of the many mostly enrich the few, is that really surprising? More to the point, is it not right and proper?
What you said is quite true in an ideal situation. But all situations and scenarios are not ideal. Whether it is a trade union or a country in which representative democracy is in action, the agendas of the ruling few (the council of a trade union) does not always go along with thoughts and feelings of all of its members. Yet the members go along with what the council decides because they do not have the necessary power to raise against the ruling body.

Yes, humans are political beings. So it is hard to have a trade union without a political agenda. But is it impossible? NO. Do these trade unions always act for the benefit of their members? I don't think so.
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

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Pattern-chaser wrote: May 19th, 2022, 1:06 pm
Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:59 pm I think what Sanders is trying to say is, "money should be fairly distributed". If we collect money from all the billionaires and distribute them among poors, many of the needs can be fulfilled (well, it may not be a long lasting solution since poverty is not a problem that can be addressed easily). Yet, they do provide jobs for thousands of people, and I see like I am seeing a paradox here.
Yes, they provide the opportunity for thousands of people to enrich them, the billionaires. I wonder if the word you were searching for could've been, not "paradox", but "parasite"?
I will not name the billionaires who earned fairly as parasites. Yes, they make their employees to work for them and earn. But do they steal from the employees? No. The employees are being paid a salary. Actually billionaires (actually speaking, not all of them but many) are an asset to a society. They earn as well as they spend for their needs, and that money is invested in their own country which is eventually spread among its citizens. This is the theory of Trickle down economy which has helped many countries to develop the social and financial status of their citizens.
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

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Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:54 pm Trade unions are still in action in my country. And I personally feel like they are abusing their power of the high number of members to get unfair requests.
Pattern-chaser wrote: May 19th, 2022, 1:02 pm You feel that the vast majority having their say is "abuse"? Pragmatically, there are 1000s of worker for every manager. Isn't it right and proper that they, the vast majority, should have a very significant say in the wealth they create, and its subsequent disposition? Is it right and proper that the tiniest of minorities sit at the top of the pyramid, benefitting from the wealth-creation done by others? I wonder which of these is "abuse", and which is fair and just?

Sushan wrote: May 18th, 2022, 9:54 pm And the main issue with trade unions is that they having political agendas, and using their members to start and carry on political unrest in the country.
Pattern-chaser wrote: May 19th, 2022, 1:02 pm The union is its members. It does not "use" its members; its members use it. And of course such a large group of people, organised in an industrial environment, has political aims and aspirations. It is difficult to imagine a human organisation of this type that doesn't have a political agenda. And, if it should be that there is "unrest" in a country where the efforts of the many mostly enrich the few, is that really surprising? More to the point, is it not right and proper?


Sushan wrote: May 22nd, 2022, 9:59 pm What you said is quite true in an ideal situation. But all situations and scenarios are not ideal. Whether it is a trade union or a country in which representative democracy is in action, the agendas of the ruling few (the council of a trade union) does not always go along with thoughts and feelings of all of its members. Yet the members go along with what the council decides because they do not have the necessary power to raise against the ruling body.

Yes, humans are political beings. So it is hard to have a trade union without a political agenda. But is it impossible? NO. Do these trade unions always act for the benefit of their members? I don't think so.
I won't pretend here. We are not trading philosophy with one another, we are trading political opinions.

The leadership of a trade union is under quite strict and direct control by its membership. That's not to say that injustices can't happen, only that it is a little less likely than it is for a government that is much more distant/removed from its electorate.

I think trade unions do act for the benefit of their members, because ... what else would they do? Acting on behalf of, and for the benefit of, their members is the one and only thing they exist to do, yes?
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

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Some people are a slave to their addictions, and they cannot be a master of themselves.
Unless you can let go of past traumas, your mind is controlled by the past.
Anger can control your mind, it can make you act in ways you later regret.
If I master myself, does that give me the freedom to murder, or should we be a slave to the law?
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

Post by Belindi »

EricPH wrote: May 24th, 2022, 1:01 am Some people are a slave to their addictions, and they cannot be a master of themselves.
Unless you can let go of past traumas, your mind is controlled by the past.
Anger can control your mind, it can make you act in ways you later regret.
If I master myself, does that give me the freedom to murder, or should we be a slave to the law?
Democrats change bad laws so are less frustrated by bad laws. The NRA supports a bad law that allows irresponsible persons to own guns. The NRA offers simplistic and cynical reasons to allow gun ownership. It's the job of philosophers to judge claims that condone murder as as a side effect of lawful gun ownership.
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

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Who chooses to be a slave? Only those impoverished by immoral extreme inequality. All of the Abrahamic religions are guilty of this, though it seems that some Islamists like Heracleitis are still trying to justify the practice, painting its less extreme aspects as typical. Meanwhile, the Islamic State produced a guide to slave owners to help them know when it's okay to beat your slaves. Sushan, note that he did not point that part out as he painted slavery as a mutually beneficial arrangement between humans, each allowed their dignity, despite being unequal.

Still, it's past time that humans re-examined their ideas on freedom. The fact is that, being part of a society means abiding by that society's rules (or pretending to) so that is an immediate curb on freedom. Thus, it is not tyranny for the state to make demands like tax or mask-wearing during pandemics; that's living in a society.

If you live out in the desert, with mainly centipedes and reptiles to keep you company, then you are free - except when the desert Sun is too hot, and being "free" in your interactions with Gila monsters or giant desert centipedes will result in pain that prevents any recurrences. That is not tyranny either; it's life. Life itself prevents freedom, and significantly so, unless one's life is exactly as one wants it.

Philosophy is all about squaring with the fact that life is not all that great - that there is no real freedom, there is inevitably much suffering and it finishes with decay and death. One can either despair or be philosophical.
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

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Sy Borg wrote: May 27th, 2022, 5:17 pm Who chooses to be a slave? Only those impoverished by immoral extreme inequality. All of the Abrahamic religions are guilty of this, though it seems that some Islamists like Heracleitis are still trying to justify the practice, painting its less extreme aspects as typical. Meanwhile, the Islamic State produced a guide to slave owners to help them know when it's okay to beat your slaves.
I think that the idea that the Sultan must be the son of a foreign slave girl, is quite funny. The idea that his vizier, i.e. his prime minister, should be the Sultan's foreign slave, is in my opinion also quite humorous.

The fact that the entire elite of the Ottoman empire consists of foreign slaves, who speak with a heavy accent, looks interesting to me.

The Egyptians had a similar system. The ruling Mamluk class were foreign (usually Georgian) slave boys, specifically bought by the clerical elite for that purpose. The Egyptian clergy simply did not want rulers of local origin. An Egyptian free-born person was banned from exercising political power.

There is definitely something funny about the fact that the boss must be a foreign slave. If he is not, then he cannot legitimately be the boss!
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

Post by Sy Borg »

heracleitos wrote: May 27th, 2022, 8:44 pm
Sy Borg wrote: May 27th, 2022, 5:17 pm Who chooses to be a slave? Only those impoverished by immoral extreme inequality. All of the Abrahamic religions are guilty of this, though it seems that some Islamists like Heracleitis are still trying to justify the practice, painting its less extreme aspects as typical. Meanwhile, the Islamic State produced a guide to slave owners to help them know when it's okay to beat your slaves.
I think that the idea that the Sultan must be the son of a foreign slave girl, is quite funny. The idea that his vizier, i.e. his prime minister, should be the Sultan's foreign slave, is in my opinion also quite humorous.

The fact that the entire elite of the Ottoman empire consists of foreign slaves, who speak with a heavy accent, looks interesting to me.

The Egyptians had a similar system. The ruling Mamluk class were foreign (usually Georgian) slave boys, specifically bought by the clerical elite for that purpose. The Egyptian clergy simply did not want rulers of local origin. An Egyptian free-born person was banned from exercising political power.

There is definitely something funny about the fact that the boss must be a foreign slave. If he is not, then he cannot legitimately be the boss!
That is just cultural imperialism. I suppose it's funny for the slave owners, if not the slaves.

Could you tell us a little about Islam's advice as to it is reasonable to beat one's foreign slave?
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Re: No man is free who is not a master of himself

Post by heracleitos »

Sy Borg wrote: May 27th, 2022, 8:59 pm That is just cultural imperialism. I suppose it's funny for the slave owners, if not the slaves.
Slavery in the Islamic world cannot be compared to the Atlantic slave trade.

The use of slaves in agriculture and industry was outlawed. There simply were no plantations full of slaves. The largest numbers were imported as soldiers (men) and concubines (women) of wealthy and powerful men.

In my opinion, it was primarily a tool against nepotism.

These foreign slaves had no family in the empire of whom to favor the interests. I think that the approach successfully reduced corruption in the bureaucracy. It also left the clergy, which was also the judiciary, as the true, stable pillar of somewhat hidden power.

I think that it is not a bad idea that only foreign slaves can be policemen. They cannot be really arrogant or disrespectful, because even though they may be in power, in the end, they are still slaves, and therefore lower in social rank.
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