Home » (Experimental Thoughts) » Paired Passages. Of Holding Things in Common.

Paired Passages. Of Holding Things in Common.

Circa 350 B.C.:

In the deviant constitutions, in the same way that what is just is of small extent, so too is the friendship; and it is least in the worst, since in a tyranny there is little or no friendship. For in those situations in which there is nothing shared by the ruler and the ruled, there is no friendship, since there is no justice either, as in a craftsman in relation to a tool or in a soul in relation to a body or in a master in relation to a slave; while all these things are helped by those who use them, there is no friendship toward things without souls, nor anything just. And neither is there toward a horse or a cow, nor toward a slave as a slave. For there is nothing in common, since the slave is an ensouled tool, as a tool is a soulless slave. Insofar, then, as he is a slave, there is no friendship toward him, though there is insofar as he is a human being, for there seems to be something just for every human being toward all those who are capable of sharing in law and contractual agreement, and so there is friendship too, to the extent he is a human being. So friendships and justice are of small extent in tyrannies, but in democracies they are of greater extent, since many things are common to people who are equal.

—Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book VIII, Chapter 12/1161 a30-b10
(Translated by Joe Sachs)

Circa 1900 A.D.:

It is hardly necessary for me to add very much in regard to the social contact between the races. Nothing has come to replace that finer sympathy and love between some masters and house servants which the radical and more uncompromising drawing of the color- line in recent years has caused almost completely to disappear. In a world where it means so much to take a man by the hand and sit beside him, to look frankly into his eyes and feel his heart beating with red blood; in a world where a social cigar or a cup of tea together means more than legislative halls and magazine articles and speeches,—one can imagine the consequences of the almost utter absence of such social amenities between estranged races, whose separation extends even to parks and streetcars.

—W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, Chapter IX


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