Tavis-upleba: To Be One’s Own Lord

Zurab Kiknadze

Abstract


The paper is a response to Mikheil Naneishvili’s book “Freedom” and
Freedom: The Word and The Concept (Tbilisi: Griphon, 2012: 267 pages), which
offers a profound analysis of the idea of liberty as conveyed by the Georgian
compound for “freedom” თავის უფალი (“one’s own lord”). According to
Naneishvili, “the problem of liberty is essentially a human problem. Free is
he who is the master over his own morality and not its slave, one who is not
enslaved by and does not enslave anyone else ...”
In an attempt to illustrate how the concept of freedom was understood
in ancient cultures, the author of this article refers to a Sanskrit compound
sva-pati, “one’s own lord”, which corresponds to the Georgian word, and a
Sumerian compound ama-ar-gi, “return to mother”, a metaphor of liberty,
which conveys different implications. According to the Sumerian concept, a
man liberated from captivity was not free until he returned to the “mother’s
embrace”.
As Naneishvili argues, freedom, the highest of human values, should not
be understood as a “shallow” concept, according to which freedom “is nothing
but the absence of external impediments” (218 p.). Thus, liberty should not be
understood as depending on the absence of external factors – as a function of
a negative condition.


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