The origin of the idea of personality, freedom of thought and conscience in the era of antiquity


  • Mykhailo Babiy



freedom, conscience, person, antiquity, Hellenism, freedom of conscience


The article is devoted to the origin of the idea of freedom of conscience, which, according to the author, appeared in the era of classical antiquity. Earlier, in the primitive community and in the era of early antiquity, where mythological consciousness prevailed, humanity had not yet thought of freedom. At the same time, in ancient epochs of different ethnos, f.ex. the Bible and other historical sources, we find facts that demonstrate an insurmountable human desire for independence, freedom: manifestations of doubt, disobedience, free-thinking and actions that contradict traditions, established rules and norms, as well as a desire to be free from the influence of the past. Doubts, free thought, are a profound expression of the "freedom of spirit" that is, according to St. Augustine, "freedom itself." Already in the ancient epoch of human existence in the religious-mythological consciousness formed the idea that the human essence itself provides for the possibility of disobedience, social deviation, that the "obedience" of a free man is different from absolute and unconditional submission.

In a certain period, the “axial time” period, almost simultaneously (in historical dimension), Zarathustra (VI BC), Buddha (564-483 BC), Confucius (551-479 BC) declared themselves; in the Middle East, in Palestine, the Jewish prophets preached, in Greece in those years appeared philosophers Thales, Parmenides, Socrates and Protagoras. The demythologization of consciousness violates the traditional connection of a person with the traditions of the tribe, race, with various prescriptions and norms of a religious nature. It is time for reflection: a person's understanding of his own actions, the specifics of his spiritual world. It is a transition from the ritual-mythological consciousness of the primitive man to self-reflective, abstract, speculative and analytical thinking. Man begins to become aware of his being and himself, sprouts and develops an individual consciousness, an important hypostasis of which is the desire of the individual for freedom.

In ancient Greece, as early as this day, the individual “I” was taking the first steps to stand out from the community-generic “We”. Individual philosophers emerge who, contrary to tradition, preach new ethical and religious ideas, new knowledge, contribute to the transformation of human consciousness, demonstrating and affirming their desire for freedom, so far without conceptual understanding of it.

The article reveals the stages of the unfolding of ideas of freedom and conscience, analyzes the thoughts of Greek philosophers, in particular Socrates and Aristotle, explains the origin of these ideas precisely during the heyday of the polis, which democratic principles of organizing community life formed a free man, citizen, freedom of thought, freedom of thought and speech. Antiquity laid the foundation for all Western consciousness of freedom - both the reality of freedom and its idea (Jaspers), in particular the idea of freedom of conscience, which found its further development in Christianity.


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