Academic journal article College Student Journal

Critical Incidents in the Evolutionary History of Personal Freedom

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Critical Incidents in the Evolutionary History of Personal Freedom

Article excerpt

This feature seeks to summarize each of the major critical incidents that have contributes to our present concept of personal freedom. If the same or similar incidents occur later in history, only the initial critical incident is included. Little or no mention is included about the life of individuals who have made such a contribution, except as it relates to the actual contribution.


A terse historical summary of the critical incidents that have contributed to the evolutionary development and fabrication of the present personal freedom design presently enjoyed by many of the diverse people in the world today. As we approach the 21st century, it seems fitting and proper that we seek to identify those "critical incidents" that have forged our present concept of human freedom; without a doubt, our most precious possession. Included in each critical incident is a brief description of the major elements that were involved in the setting wherein the incident occurred, along with the name of the major individual personally responsible for the historical contribution. Where the critical incident was repeated later, often more than once, in the historical perspective, sometimes almost a precise duplication of the initial incident, only credit was given to the original contribution. No effort has been made to include the life and personal background of the major contributors; only to focus on the specific contribution made in the evolutionary growth and development in relation to human freedom as it is being experienced today.

Athens, Greece 480-430 B.C.

1. Leader and cultural center of Mediterranean area from 480-430 B.C.

2. Athens is considered by many to be the birthplace of democracy.

3. Magistrates had to be elected with an equal opportunity for all citizens

4. A magistrate could hold office only once, and for a period of one year.

5. There were 40 open house meetings a year where any citizen could bring an injustice before the assembly.

6. After 462 B.C. "democracy" meant the sovereignty (collective will) of the people.

7. The magistrate was expected to execute the peoples' policy, and it was based on a majority vote of the assembly.

Socrates 470-399 B.C.

1. He insisted that true virtue is universal, and was the same for all places and for all times, and can not be adapted to favor select people.

2. He believed a person's happiness depended entirely on the goodness of the soul, and that the soul in every person, for time on earth, is a part of a Super God.

3. It was his life long conviction that the improvement of himself and his countrymen was a task planned for him by the Super God.

4. About the age of 70 in 399 B.C. he was accused of impiety, of corrupting the youth, and not believing in the Gods recognized by the city and substituting a Supernatural God; the latter being the most critical aspect of his charge.

5. In the presence of many of his friends, rather than deny the existence of God, he drank the poisoned hemlock and died.

Magna Carta 1215 A.D.

1. The Magna Carta was a grant of special privileges conceded by King John of England to British subjects 15 June 1215.

2. The Magna Carta was exceptional in its long influence on legal and constitutional thought relative to freedom in England, and among English speaking colonies.

3. A likely main root of the Magna Carta was believed to be found in the national charter of Henry I (1100)

4. The Magna Carta sought to impose on the crown the same constraints of lawful process that the crown's legal system required of the lords of federal courts.

5. The Magna Carta provided that the English church should be free, and should retain the grant of freedom of election.

Benedict de Spinoza 1632-1677

1. Spinoza is known first for emphasizing the role of reason in metaphysics and ethics. …

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