We can distinguish between the virtues of a free man and the virtues of a slave.
In the institution of slavery a slave did not exercise choice with regard to his growth and development; he could not choose the work he would have liked to do; he could not leave his master and lead an independent life. He was like a horse with no will of his where to go, but to follow the direction given to him by the master. A slave is a person who serves another person's will. He observes the will of the master, not his own will. When we live another's will our conduct is not our own, it is conduct imposed by some one else. It is like signing a document at the point of pistol. A free man lives by the decisions of his own will. His decisions are his, and not of somebody else's.
Slavery is intrinsically evil and freedom of an individual is intrinsically desirable. Both these truths are based on the ground that each man is an end in himself. Man is not a thing or instrument to be used for purpose outside the individual. The problem is how to ensure individual's freedom with the demands of social and political life. The world philosophic genius from Rousseau to Russell has wrestled hard to find out a way to build a free society. Political thinkers like Rousseau, thought that political democracy makes for General will which is the will of all of us. The General will expressed in political law is not the will of an elite class but expresses the will of all, minus private or selfish will. The social philosophers advocate less and less authoritative conduct in the family and social organization. Today we have a permissive society where there is less of traditional authority of the elders. But we are not concerned with social and political questions, in short, with organizational questions.
Again, an individual faces the question of slavery and freedom in choosing his profession. Certain professions, like law, private practice in medicine, business, university professorship, provide greater freedom of choice than administrative service. While I was in the States as a visiting teacher, I was free to decide for myself the courses I was to teach my students. So I taught the four Indian values and Devatma's ethics also. When I was a student at London University in 1932-34 my Head of the Department, taught his own philosophy for the two years of my stay. Such is the freedom enjoyed by university teachers in democratic countries. However, we are not concerned with this issue of the choice of profession.
We are concerned with slavery and freedom in relation to virtues, A child is asked to do certain things. He does not understand the ground of their value for him. He just observes them. He is asked by his parents to get up early to go to school. He does not want to get up early. It is not his will. But he carries out orders of another will. Left to himself he would rather keep sleeping till his bus has left his stop so that he could play the whole day. His conduct is right when he carries out a right demand and if he regularly carries it out, it is virtue of obedience in him. If the parents are not there, or forget to shake him up, he sleeps till late. His virtue of …
Virtues of A Free Man - SGR