A History of Freedom of Thought

A History of Freedom of Thought

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by J B Bury
     
 

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A History of Freedom of Thought

By J. B. Bury

IT is a common saying that thought is free. A man can never be hindered from thinking whatever he chooses so long as he conceals what he thinks. The working of his mind is limited only by the bounds of his experience and the power of his imagination. But this natural liberty of

Overview

A History of Freedom of Thought

By J. B. Bury

IT is a common saying that thought is free. A man can never be hindered from thinking whatever he chooses so long as he conceals what he thinks. The working of his mind is limited only by the bounds of his experience and the power of his imagination. But this natural liberty of private thinking is of little value. It is unsatisfactory and even painful to the thinker himself, if he is not permitted to communicate his thoughts to others, and it is obviously of no value to his neighbours. Moreover it is extremely difficult to hide thoughts that have any power over the mind. If a man’s thinking leads him to call in question ideas and customs which regulate the behaviour of those about him, to reject beliefs which they hold, to see better ways of life than those they follow, it is almost impossible for him, if he is convinced of the truth of his own reasoning, not to betray by silence, chance words, or general attitude that he is different from them and does not share their opinions. Some have preferred, like Socrates, some would prefer to-day, to face death rather than conceal their thoughts. Thus freedom of thought, in any valuable sense, includes freedom of speech.

Freedom of thought (also called the freedom of conscience[disputed – discuss] or ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints. It is different from and not to be confused with the concept of freedom of speech or expression.

Freedom of thought is the precursor and progenitor of—and thus is closely linked to—other liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression. It is a very important concept in the western world and nearly all [citation needed] democratic constitutions protect these freedoms.

History of suppression and development

It is impossible to know with certainty what another person is thinking, making suppression difficult. The concept is developed throughout the Bible, most fully in the writings of Paul of Tarsus (e.g., "For why should my freedom [eleutheria] be judged by another's conscience [suneideseos]?" 1 Corinthians 10:29.).

Although Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates had discussed Freedom of Thought minimally, the edicts of King Ashoka (3rd century BC) have been called the first decree respecting Freedom of Conscience. In European tradition, aside from the decree of religious toleration by Constantine I at Milan in 313, the philosophers Themistius, Michel de Montaigne, Baruch Spinoza, Locke, Voltaire, Alexandre Vinet, and John Stuart Mill have been considered major proponents of the idea of Freedom of Conscience.

Queen Elizabeth I revoked a thought censorship law in the late sixteenth century, because, according to Sir Francis Bacon, she did "not [like] to make windows into men's souls and secret thoughts". During her reign, philosopher, mathematician, astrologer, and astronomer Giordano Bruno took refuge in England from the Italian Inquisition, where he published a number of his books regarding an infinite universe and other topics banned by the Catholic Church. After leaving the safety of England, Bruno was eventually burned as a heretic in Rome for refusing to recant his ideas. For this reason he is considered by some to be a martyr for free thought.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781493650927
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
11/01/2013
Pages:
130
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.28(d)

Meet the Author

John Bagnell Bury (16 October 1861 - 1 June 1927), known as J. B. Bury, was an Irish historian, classical scholar, Byzantinist and philologist. He objected to the label "Byzantinist" explicitly in the preface to the 1889 edition of his Later Roman Empire.

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History of Freedom of Thought 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its awesome