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Why was slavery a paradox?

I don't understand the word 'paradox' very well, even though I looked it up and it is defined as "a self-contradiction". Please help, I think the answer might have something to do with a quote I found: "Democratic liberty exists solely because we have slaves . . . freedom is not possible without slavery." Obviously that qoute sounds pretty ridiculous and self-contradictory!

Thank you for using the Jiskha Homework Help Forum. True, the dictionary may not convey the true meaning of paradox. You can, however, understand better through examples. Here are some examples:

1. http://www.basicincome.com/bp/egsofparadox.htm

2. http://www.antimoon.com/words/paradox-n.htm

Paradox: a statement whose two parts seem contradictory yet make sense with more thought. Christ used paradox in his teaching: "They have ears but hear not." Or in ordinary conversation, we might use a paradox, "Deep down he's really very shallow." Paradox attracts the reader's or the listener's attention and gives emphasis.


Your quote should be taken in context. I suspect it's the words of a Southerner shortly before the Civil War. To him, his freedom was the right of white men to make a good living. He believed that owning slaves to do the labor was necessary for his freedom and well-being. Slaves weren't considered real people, so freedom didn't apply to them.


The main context of the paradox can be seen in the last part of the quote that "freedom is not possible without slavery." The paradox come to be with the point that
southerners saw the acquisition of slaves as personal freedom, the freedom to have a better way of life. But by having themselves this freedom, they take freedom away from another, the slaves. That, I think, is what the paradox of slavery is: enslaving people for freedom.

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