Slavery in the Period of Renaissance

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Renaissance or the Age of Enlightenment is characterized by the idea of intellectual revolution. It is during this period that various philosophies and theories took place that revolutionized and changed the way of thinking of the people around the world. One of the most note worthy subject that was greatly emphasize on is its high regards to the role of the human person. However, the importance of human beings was ironically contested by the existence of slavery during those times. The justifiction of slavery is also explained by using various assumptions as to why their presence does not degrade the value of human beings.

During the ancient times, two popular assumptions were expressed in order to explain the idea of slavery. According to Aristotle, there are human beings who lack the capacity to govern themselves which makes them “natural slaves”. It is then upon the wiser men or the masters to guide and supervise these slaves. This kind of relationship is believed to be mutually beneficial as the master gains from the labor of the slave and in return the slave learns wisdom from the master that he could not obtain on his own.

Another explanation why slavery exists is based upon the human law specifically the rules regarding the prisoners of war. The proponents of this theory argue that the word slave actually comes from the word “servus” meaning an act of saving the soldier of an enemy. Being tha case, instead of killing the enemy they will save or spare his life by making him a slave. This is considered as both a beneficial and charitable act (Frankle, n. d. ). The Aristotelian theory of natural slavery were more popular than the human law assumption.

The arrival of the Indians in Europe even reinforced the natural slavery theory. Their physical distinctiveness from the Europeans was perceived as the characteristics of the slave that Aristotle was talking about. These are the reasons as to why even before the age of enlightenment this theory was already revived by St. Thomas in his goal of synthesizing the Aristotelian and Christian thought when it comes to slavery. By the time Renaissance period came the Aristotelian philosophy have achieved respectability and was widely accepted.

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