By Arlene W. Saxonhouse

Loose speech within the historical democracy was once now not a secure correct yet an expression of the liberty from hierarchy, awe, reverence and disgrace. That freedom was once challenged by way of the implications of the rejection of disgrace (aidos) which had served as a cohesive strength in the polity. via readings of Socrates's trial, Greek tragedy and comedy, Thucydides's historical past, and Plato's Protagoras, this quantity explores the paradoxical connections among loose speech, democracy, disgrace, and Socratic philosophy and Thucydidean heritage.

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I discuss those arguments in more detail in the next section of this chapter. P1: JZP 0521819857c01 28 CUNY201B/Saxonhouse 0 521 81985 7 October 11, 2005 Introduction nurture individual autonomy. Athens, not Mill, dominated the writings and endeavors of Meiklejohn. 23 When Socrates explored the meaning of virtue, he spoke in the agora, in the gymnasium, in the homes of Cephalus and Callias, on paths outside the city walls; wherever he engaged in conversation, though, his was public speech that the Athenians (under the prodding of his accusers Meletus, Lycos, and Anytus) saw as affecting the stability and foundation of the political regime.

Considerations on Representative Government is a storehouse of proposals intended to improve self-government by preserving the capacity for citizens to think independently. While Mill is certainly known for his multiple defenses of freedom of speech and protections from the intrusive arm of any government, we cannot ignore the importance of that independence for the practices of self-rule as well as self-improvement. The concern with the educative role of freedom of speech in producing moral citizens surfaces already in Milton’s Areopagitica where freedom of expression allowed for the development of intellectual autonomy, the individual who could think for himself, for whom reason is the art of choice.

This model for understanding freedom of speech as protection against governmental oppression has its roots in a much earlier English tradition, a tradition that ultimately develops into the language of government by consent. Sir Edward Coke’s Institutes of the Laws of England (1628–1644) offers the English phrase “freedom of speech” for the first time. ” According to Stoner (2003: 48) at the beginning of each session of Parliament, the Commons would petition the king for the privilege of free speech during the session and he would grant it.

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