Intellectual Freedom During The 20th Century

1923 WordsApr 6, 20178 Pages
Intellectual Freedom in the Midst of Physical Bondage In the nineteenth century, mankind was inconsistent in using reason. Although there have been many enlightenment periods throughout the ages, mankind still begets the same mistakes. Racism was a major element in this time of history and it is still affecting the world. Unless the mind is free, the liberation of the body makes little difference. Frederick Douglass knew this all too well as he grew up as a slave. In his Narrative of The Life, he explains the development of his character and understanding of intellectual freedom. The intent of this paper is to explore the experiences that lead Douglass to understand the difference between physical and intellectual freedom. This is seen…show more content…
At this point in history, slave owners would purposefully keep slaves from having formal education. They knew that the more ignorant the slaves were, the less they would fight back against the injustice taking place. Fredrick Douglass experienced great difficulties in identifying with his father, who as white. Rather, he identified with his Negro ancestry (Waldo 4). This thinking and the separation from his grandmother were critical to his comprehension of his enslavement (Waldo 6). Although Douglass had a basic understanding of what slavery was, it was not until this moment that he truly realized the gravity of the circumstance that he was in. This event and situation led to his increasing desire to be free (Waldo 6). Much of his thinking comes from his culture and social roots. He believed in a necessary relationship between a moral universe and the imperfect world of human events (Waldo 165). This thinking was rooted in a Christian reformist mindset. Everything now could be seen in the context of race, thus leading to a great need for social reform (Waldo 197). Douglass began to grow in sophistication as a public speaker, this brought out some great difficulties in the 1840’s. In the beginning, he gave simple accounts of his life as a slave, but as he grew up in his thinking he sought to provide an analysis of slavery and the prejudices that he encountered (Finkenbine 1).
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