Politics

Politics

What is the relationship of the individual to the state? What is the ideal state, and how can it bring about the most desirable life for its citizens? What sort of education should it provide? What is the purpose of amassing wealth? These are some of the questions Aristotle attempts to answer in one of the most intellectually stimulating works.Both heavily influenced by an...

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Title:Politics
Author:Aristotle
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Politics Reviews

  • Tim

    I personally find it tough to do any sort of a review on the classics, as just about everything that can be said about a 2400 year old treatise has probably been said. However, like scripture, everyone has their own interpretation of these kinds of documents from antiquity. The interpretations, like any reading, have to do with the culture and time in which one was raised, the society and government around them, as well as one’s age and any previous influential readings and/or life experience. T

    I personally find it tough to do any sort of a review on the classics, as just about everything that can be said about a 2400 year old treatise has probably been said. However, like scripture, everyone has their own interpretation of these kinds of documents from antiquity. The interpretations, like any reading, have to do with the culture and time in which one was raised, the society and government around them, as well as one’s age and any previous influential readings and/or life experience. These previous influences allow a “horizontal” approach to interpretation, where one incorporates many different impressions into the present document.

    “The Politics of Aristotle” is a link in the evolutionary process of social and political development. Like Plato’s “Republic”, Aristotle considers the concept of justice in this treatise. First, we must define justice, and then we must figure out the best way to enact justice. It is important to remember when dealing with the classics that we are looking at an attempt to tie down a “universal” (itself a tricky word) into a specific place and time. Everyone generally agrees that “justice” is what is “right”. However, conditioning of various types will influence HOW justice looks when pen is put to paper.

    The area in which I believe Aristotle to have the greatest wisdom is in his descriptions of human nature (and how to approach justice WITH this human nature in mind). “Men who don’t have control of their own passions will fail to serve their own interests.” “We always prefer what we come across first.” “Men are always wanting something more and are never content until they get to infinity.” “Ambition and avarice are exactly the motives which lead men to commit nearly all intentional crimes.”

    Through my recent dialogue with those residing in the East, it is apparent to me that much of Western philosophy is late in its realization of some universal truths. The conflict of opposites is a universal concept. Moderation as a necessity for “goodness” is a universal concept. This would coincide with the idea of “Non-dualism” that has been around for thousands of years in the Far East. Aristotle attempts to broach these topics through more of an exterior view. For example, he uses the analogy of the “perfection of the nose”. A nose that is “extremely” straight, or “extremely” symmetrical in all areas would eventually become so “extreme” as to not even appear to be a nose. It would morph into something else, if you will. That is an example of dualistic thinking. Extremes in anything produce the opposite of what one is trying to achieve. Moderation, looking at all sides of an issue, eradicating dogmatic thinking, are all ways to avoid these extremes.

    Modern Capitalistic thought has grasped onto Aristotle’s ideas of distributive justice, aristocracy, and his negation or downplaying of apparent class conflicts to justify certain actions. What Aristotle has not and could not consider is all the complexities of modern times. Race, a global economy, and our current belief in the equality of ALL men do not mix with Aristotelian thought. Plato had a much better grasp on class conflict with the idea of the state being TWO states…that of the rich and that of the poor. Although Aristotle DID acknowledge that: “Poverty is the cause of the defects of democracy.” He adds: “That is why measures should be taken to ensure a permanent level of prosperity.”

    The eloquence of describing the life of the interior is perhaps the part of “The Politics” which struck me the greatest. "Thought is an activity as much as action itself, and it may even be more of an activity than action is. The self-contained individual...may be busily active: the activity of God and the universe is that of a self-contained life." This statement coincided well with one that Aristotle had mentioned in “Rhetoric”, where he states that: “The more I am by myself and alone, the fonder I have become of myths.” This seems to indicate that Aristotle may have had an idea, even if he couldn’t name it, of the inherent need for a “god-image” in the nature of man.

    Philosophy as defined by the ancient Greeks IS wisdom. Therefore it is in itself a universal as wisdom is all-encompassing. Man’s attempt to make sense of universals containing many expressions is one of the great challenges of living. For me, it has also brought about the realization that we are all looking for the same thing in the end. Approaching others WITH that knowledge is more conducive to dialogue and to greater understanding…which creates a better life for all of us.

  • Fergus

    Want a friendly tip?

    When you’re finished browsing through the latest headlines screaming blue murder over political dirty double dealings, browse through THIS!

    It’ll open the windows of your mind and let in some fresh air!

    Meet the vigorous, affable philosopher Aristotle, as he jostles through the Polis Agora, bumping into old friends, cheerfully waving to others in the distance, and stopping to join his buddies in friendly talk about the government’s latest projects.

    Some of his interlocutors may

    Want a friendly tip?

    When you’re finished browsing through the latest headlines screaming blue murder over political dirty double dealings, browse through THIS!

    It’ll open the windows of your mind and let in some fresh air!

    Meet the vigorous, affable philosopher Aristotle, as he jostles through the Polis Agora, bumping into old friends, cheerfully waving to others in the distance, and stopping to join his buddies in friendly talk about the government’s latest projects.

    Some of his interlocutors may gripe that it’s just more of the same old tired routine.

    Not Aristotle!

    His well-thought out rebuttal to these naysayers would have been a detailed and densely populated paysage moralisé of plain, optimistic good sense.

    For Aristotle, bless his soul, always ac-cen-tu-at-ed the Positive!

    His jauntiness and well-mannered public ease Radiated Good Health.

    And bonhomie too... He was a good man.

    He knew what goodness was: because he avoided evil.

    And he also had a nifty way to get us out of any bad moods - with his twin teaching of ens and potens. For if a person isn’t acting all too nicely now, he always has the potentiality to be good inside himself!

    And everything changes.

    Does that remind you a bit of The Power of Positive Thinking?

    Well, that was Aristotle for you - 2,500 years BEFORE Norman Vincent Peale was even born!

    And maybe you can’t make a big social splash that way.

    But your enemies will be few and far between if you practice it!

    And so we can easily imagine Aristotle put a LOT of otherwise wary people at their ease.

    But that’s not the picture we’ve been given of him...

    No - for we’re accustomed to think of him as totally above and beyond us - a gloomy, tedious old soul who must always remain the privileged property of persnickety professors.

    But he’s not. He will always be a fresh summer breeze refreshing our callous cynicism!

    And he will sweep all our dreary political judgments right off the table.

    And begin at the beginning with a Level Playing Field.

    So now that you’ve met him, let me ask you:

    Is this the same man (as Jacques Derrida would have you believe) who is purported to have said on his deathbed, ‘O friends, there are no friends’?

    Well, you know, some so-called teachers want to push you over the deep end in order to watch you flounder - and then sell you a life preserver.

    But Real Teachers, like Aristotle and his own master, Plato, want to just give you a friendly heave-ho into the drink - to teach you HOW TO SWIM!

    So my answer to that tricky question, is simply, ‘Yes, Virginia, there ARE true friends...

    If you choose them Wisely!’

    And there ARE wise, positive-minded thinkers who point us to the straight and narrow road to truth -

    Like Aristotle, who believed that Good Politicians really CAN exist.

  • Amira Hosam

    talks about state of nature and how to set "state" ,how to set laws and types of government and which type is the best ? also talks about human nature and how to make it good by education, proper upbringing and music .

    may be it is long book , contains many names and many details which need specialist in political sciences or philosophy but u can get also usefulness from it by knowing types of governments, how to make human nature better also the main target is " that book will make u think in e

    talks about state of nature and how to set "state" ,how to set laws and types of government and which type is the best ? also talks about human nature and how to make it good by education, proper upbringing and music .

    may be it is long book , contains many names and many details which need specialist in political sciences or philosophy but u can get also usefulness from it by knowing types of governments, how to make human nature better also the main target is " that book will make u think in every detail in your life".

  • Phoenix2

    I especially enjoy Aristotle's works, as he is easy to read and his philosophy is beautifully stractured. In this book, some of the foundamental ideas of politics are presented, again with an ease so everyone could understand them and see how he reached his conclusion by a logical order.

  • Genni

    “Man is a political animal.”-The perfect springboard for Aristotle's political tome.

    The book is largely divided, though not perfectly sectioned off, into sections concerning his political philosophy and analysis. His philosophy was a little difficult to ascertain. His idea of a citizen is severely limited, arguing that men are born to “rule or be ruled”. He says that the same means are needed to make a good man as a good constitution. And his insistence that the whole comes before the parts (th

    “Man is a political animal.”-The perfect springboard for Aristotle's political tome.

    The book is largely divided, though not perfectly sectioned off, into sections concerning his political philosophy and analysis. His philosophy was a little difficult to ascertain. His idea of a citizen is severely limited, arguing that men are born to “rule or be ruled”. He says that the same means are needed to make a good man as a good constitution. And his insistence that the whole comes before the parts (the polis before the individual) left me, as a modern reader, pretty skeptical. He seems to think that the individual can only be fulfilled in a political setting. The city is not organized to simply provide protection, but to enable the citizen (again, the few who qualify) to obtain the good life. But then he thinks the “good life”, which is to be attained through participation in government, is one of leisure?? It seems to me that a life of leisure can only be built on the backs of those who are willing (or made, in the case of slavery) to provide such a life, meaning very few people could obtain this. I didn't quite get how all of this is supposed to work. But I have not read

    yet, so my lack of understanding may lie somewhere between the two books.

    His political analysis of different forms of government, in their ideal and practical forms, was interesting reading (mostly). He had an intense knowledge of the constitutions of his day and their strengths and weaknesses. He discusses how different conflicts within different classes leads to constitutional changes. His comments in this section on changes from aristocracy to democracy truly made me think of the French Revolution, which made think he was mostly on target in these sections, but I am no political analyst. Mostly, I just appreciated the groundwork he laid for the future conversations that lead to our constitution.

    On his treatment of slavery: I could not help but compare the differences between the Ancient Hebrew laws on slavery and Aristotle's comments. As I hope others will understand the importance of not reading ancient texts like the Bible with modern sentiments, I tried to offer the same understanding to Aristotle. But he really lost me here. He constantly referred to slaves as irrational creatures. There seemed to be something at work here, for he said perhaps some are wrongfully enslaved, but mostly he felt their plight was just and to their benefit. Ancient Hebrew laws also were to the benefit of the “slave”, but in the interest of setting them free from debt, and ultimately, to be free to leave. Ancient Hebrew law looked progressive compared to Aristotle's comments.

    Aristotle made me laugh with this comment, “No one in his youth resents being ruled.” HA. I thought Aristotle had children, but Wikipedia must be mistaken...

    To sum up with a word to the wise he says,“Not all democratic or Oligarchic measures are calculated to ensure the permanence of democracy or oligarchy.” The cardinal importance of educating citizens to live and act in the spirit of the constitution cannot be underestimated. “This is too often neglected, especially in extreme democracies which encourage the idea of 'living as one likes'”.

  • Erick

    Despite the warnings and protests that I have received from goodreads friends about reading Aristotle's politics into our current political situations and vice versa, I will attempt to do just that in this review - unapologetically. Obviously, I am well aware that Aristotle lived over 2300 years ago; indeed, I would have to be pretty ignorant to be reading him to this degree and not be aware of that fact (I have now completed almost his whole corpus - minus his zoological writings and his Eudemi

    Despite the warnings and protests that I have received from goodreads friends about reading Aristotle's politics into our current political situations and vice versa, I will attempt to do just that in this review - unapologetically. Obviously, I am well aware that Aristotle lived over 2300 years ago; indeed, I would have to be pretty ignorant to be reading him to this degree and not be aware of that fact (I have now completed almost his whole corpus - minus his zoological writings and his Eudemian Ethics). Also, I am fully aware that societal conditions do change, in both subtle and not so subtle ways. I am always amazed though at a particular tendency of some people to consider anything more than a few decades old to be passé and obsolete. I am sure my goodreads friends are not guilty of this degree of naivety. I remember debating someone on the American founding fathers and whether their ideas were still relevant to our current political situations...! Yes, someone was actually taking the position that the founding father's views on the republic they formed were not relevant today. This is obviously an extreme example of how clueless people can be when it comes to ideas and their relationship to progress. My feeling is that if you are arguing that past thinkers held demonstrably different ideas when they spoke about freedom, equality, rights, laws, ethics - etc etc et al – then you are simply playing a game of equivocation and using time as an accomplice in your charade. I know my goodreads friends are not this extreme (at least I hope). Why read philosophy if one considers its ideas to have a shelf life? There are certainly more practical uses of one's time if this were the case. I am cognizant of the warnings my friends provided and those warnings are not without merit, but with the preceding introduction, hopefully, I have provided a defense for the following review. The review itself should also make clear where Aristotle's ideas are still relevant. I am certainly willing to debate the merits of Benjamin Jowett's translation because I am taking it as correct. The burden of proof though is on the person who questions Jowett's translation; it is on them to present the Greek words and the English terms that they consider more correct than his rendering. I won't take seriously textual criticisms that don't offer evidence and source material for substantiation. Saying someone claimed something about Aristotle that can't be substantiated is not an argument as far as I am concerned. If one provides sources and evidence, I will certainly take it seriously.

    I want to first off address one issue that was brought forth in a comment. Aristotle and Plato did not have any experience of the exact kind of democracy we know of today. Aristotle believed in equality, but it was an equality of similars, i.e. only men of a certain status were accepted as citizens. Sharing in that similar condition qualified them as equals. It wasn't equality based on humanity alone. Slaves, women, and children were not included in citizenship in the Greek city-states; and Aristotle did indeed follow this precedent. That is certainly one way that democracy has changed. Of course, these changes were made relatively recently. Basing equality on being human alone is an element that was added to democratic ideals subsequently (one should probably note that Christian ethics was largely the influence behind this innovation). There were, however, reasons for including status (e.g. owning wealth/property, military service, etc) into questions of citizenship in Aristotle's day. That is something I am going to get into below when I talk about the dangers of democracy that have always existed. That is not to say that I support the ancient Greek perspective on this question. Clearly, it doesn't matter what the political system is when one falls into the category of the disenfranchised listed above; all systems would be tyrannical in that case. Any system that does not take into account inherent human value into questions of equality is a system that is not at all just - except in an equivocal sense.

    One should note that there is absolutely no question that all political systems in the West (including here in America) are rooted in a Greco-Roman precedent. This is as undeniable as that our ethics and morals (not to mention religious ideals) are rooted in a Judeo-Christian precedent. I am certainly of the opinion that those who first wrote on these topics still have something to teach us; and those ideas are often still applicable. I read the Bible because I believe it's morals and ethics are entirely relevant for us. As we move further away from the preceding, the worse society will be. In like manner, the earliest writers on the political systems that inspired ours are still entirely relevant. People often do not have much of a grasp of what occurred in the Greek city-states. The Greeks experimented with different forms of government. These weren't just topics that they debated in writing, they were lived out! I cannot stress this enough. The political systems that are referred to in Plato and Aristotle (removing the speculative elements they added) were tested. Humanity hasn't changed that much in 2300 years. For an example (as I mentioned in my review to Cicero's On Moral Duties), Socialism/Communism is not a new idea. Aristotle was aware that one potential abuse of democracy was when some demagogue promised the disenfranchised that he would take the money and/or property from the wealthy and give it to them if they supported him (I will provide quotes below). Obviously, even if one didn't have property, it didn't necessarily mean that in an ancient democracy that one had no recourse to gaining political power. Aristotle was very wary of the kind of political abuses that were possible within a democracy. He believed (as did Cicero) that every person should be respected in their property. Not respecting the property rights of people was a sure way to bring about revolution.

    Is this no longer a problem in our American republic? If you think that, guess again. If a party is harboring socialists that do not respect the above fundamental human right of property, you know the same situation that Aristotle and Cicero wrote about is possible even today. Aristotle mentions in more than one place that democracies often descend into very specific abuses. Often it came in the form of some politician scapegoating the well-to-do. This is exemplified in the following quote:

    “From democracy tyrants have borrowed the art of making war upon the notables and destroying them secretly or openly, or of exiling them because they are rivals and stand in the way of their power; and also because plots against them are contrived by men of this class, who either want to rule or escape subjection.”

    This applies also to those who are wealthy as Aristotle also makes clear:

    “Revolutions in democracies are generally caused by the intemperance of demagogues, who either in their private capacity lay information against rich men until they compel them to combine.. or coming forward in public they stir up the people against them.”

    Of course, the above has been a notable element of communist and socialist countries in the modern world. This is a risk of democracy. He noted numerous examples where democracy would shift into oligarchy and back again – all eventually descending into tyranny. Aristotle was incredibly critical of a pure democracy. This is where the majority have absolute control over the minority. Aristotle calls this the worst form of tyranny. In a pure democracy, 51% of the people have absolute control over 49% of the people. Interestingly enough, the percentages just provided are pretty close to what we have here between Liberals and Conservatives respectively (not taking into account moderates like myself) in America. Unsurprisingly, many of those connected to the American political party that takes it's name from democracy, often do support pure democratic ideals, where even the Constitution and the Bill of Rights should be open to popular vote. The mitigating control to this pure democracy is what Aristotle calls the constitutional government. He includes the constitutional government under the heading of democracy, but he undoubtedly considered them distinct. The constitutional government is more what we would term today a constitutional republic (technically, democracy and republic are the same in ancient Greek sources, but in modern parlance they are distinct). This is what we have here in the United States. Indeed, Aristotle saw this as the best form of government. This is exemplified by the following quote:

    “For two principles are characteristic of democracy, the government of the majority and freedom. Men think that what is just is equal; and that equality is the supremacy of the popular will; and that freedom and equality mean the doing what a man likes. In such democracies every one lives as he pleases, or in the words of Euripides, 'according to his fancy.' But this is all wrong; men should not think it slavery to live according to the rule of the constitution; for it is their salvation.”

    Aristotle saw that a balance needed to be struck between law (i.e. constitution) and freedom (i.e. democracy). Losing this balance can be catastrophic as this following quote make clear:

    “Oligarchy or democracy, although a departure from the most perfect form, may yet be a good enough government, but if any one attempts to push the principles of either to an extreme, he will begin by spoiling the government and end by having none at all… for when by laws carried to excess one or other element in the state is ruined, the constitution is ruined.”

    Aristotle knew full well that pure democracies gave way to anarchy and then to oligarchy. He was suspicious of democracies for this reason. In democracies, everyone wants to be equal, but in the words of George Orwell, some want to be more equal than others. Part of the problem for Aristotle and other political thinkers of his day was to develop a system that would minimize, if not eliminate, inequities in a populace, and allow them a role in government, without sacrificing more competent voices for less competent voices. This may appear shocking, but one should keep in mind that in Aristotle's point of view, not everyone was equally competent to share in government, even if he were to grant that everyone is equal as far as the category of species goes. Obviously, the ancient Greek attempt to minimize incompetent say in government is not correct, but one has to at the same time acknowledge that a vast percentage of the population that exists in any society (and in any period of time) are not competent enough to have any political power. Very few people in a given population are knowledgeable enough to have an informed opinion on government. Aristotle, with other Greeks, probably assumed if one had gained a certain position or status, it indicated more competence; men were seen as more competent mentally than women; slaves lacked the status and education to be citizens; children were not yet competent prior to proper education. Education was seen as being fundamental to Aristotle's view of governmental longevity. I provide this quote of Aristotle as an example of his position:

    “But of all the things which I have mentioned, that which most contributes to the permanence of constitutions is the adaptation of education to the form of government, and yet in our day this principle is universally neglected.”

    We need to appreciate that Greeks like Aristotle were concerned about the rule of an ignorant populace. We must acknowledge this while also condemning their attempts at controlling this through such an unjust method. Aristotle seems to acknowledge above that even those who were citizens were often ignorant. A tyranny of the majority happens when a populace is too ignorant and too self-seeking to make sound political decisions. The American founding fathers set up a very particular system to curb the tyranny of the majority. Ignorant factions of a country can easily become tribalist and disinterested in the health of society as a whole. This is a precursor to social unrest and civil war, i.e. what Aristotle terms revolution. What happens, for instance, when a disenfranchised group gains citizenship and every societal benefit that comes with citizenship? For some of these, this development will be seen as an adequate if not an optimal outcome. For others, it will simply not be good enough. They may then insist that they need special rights that other citizens don't enjoy for them to feel equal and to make up for any feelings of past societal marginalization. Aristotle says this:

    “The universal and chief cause of this revolutionary feeling has been mentioned already; viz. The desire of equality, when men think that they are equal to others that have more than themselves; or, again, the desire of inequality and superiority, when conceiving themselves to be superior they think that they have not more but the same or less than their inferiors; pretensions which may or may not be just. Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior.”

    Aristotle attributed the revolutionary feeling to these factors that do not need to be based in reality; they only need to be perceived as true. What is at play here? The same ignorant human tendency Cicero also took note of: the tendency of people to be self-seeking and more concerned with superiority and not equality, even when claiming that they are only seeking equality. Once equality is attained, the wise and good will consider this adequate, but those who are neither wise nor good will not consider this adequate. This is not an archaic and inapplicable human tendency, it is still very much present in democracies. Pure democracy is mob rule. Can a democracy be a healthy breeding ground for political parties that harbor socialists, communists and anarchists? Indeed, it can. Having a constitution is a safeguard against these kinds of corrupting influences.

    Aristotle was also concerned about the wearing away of a constitution. Removing tenets little by little over time. Aristotle says:

    “Again, the revolution may be accomplished by small degrees; I mean that a great change may sometimes slip into the constitution through neglect of a small matter...”

    And again says in relation to Aristocratic constitutional government (I doubt he would consider the effects to be any different than in a democratic constitutional government):

    “The citizens begin by giving up some part of the constitution, and so with greater ease the government change something else which is a little more important, until they have undermined the whole fabric of the state.”

    One can certainly find an example of this sort of thing in this country recently. Not too long ago, a president instituted something called the Patriot Act that was a serious breach of the constitution. This allowed data collection and other things that compromised the rights of citizens. Aristotle was aware that in his day, tyrants utilized informants to infiltrate almost every aspect of societal life. These informants were the data collectors of Aristotle's day. Aristotle knew rightly that these are the tactics of tyrants and they are not desirable for a free society. Interestingly enough, he also noted that tyrants often attempted to keep the populace focused on things not pertinent to their role in government; these could take the form of fighting foreign wars and/or infighting between groups within a society. I leave it to the reader to decide if this still happens and if this sort of thing is still relevant in today's democracies.

    The preceding are the thoughts I had while reading this. Every review is simply a collection of my thoughts on anything I read. I am very far from believing that what Aristotle wrote about is irrelevant today. Indeed, I feel quite the opposite. Like the Nicomachean Ethics, which was the preceding volume to the Politics, Aristotle believed in moderation. He believed in a political balance between freedom and law, democracy and constitutional government. He was suspicious of extremes. I think that was an astute appraisal of politics. We would do well to take the same position in regards to politics today. It may be too much to hope when considering that I am a moderate Libertarian that the reader will see this as an adequate defense of political moderation, but hopefully the fact that this isn't a new idea and was the position of thinkers in the past may give it some merit.

    I am giving the book a 4 star review. The book caused me to reflect quite a bit. I reject Aristotle's caste system where certain people are denied citizenship and rights. I also find his defense of infanticide incredibly abhorrent, but it is hardly surprising when one considers his position on the value of children.

  • Jonathan Karmel

    In Politics, Aristotle theorized that in a perfect world, a monarchy would be a benevolent dictatorship, an aristocracy would be rule by the virtuous and democracy would be rule by the people. But because of human frailty, monarchy actually becomes tyranny, aristocracy actually becomes oligarchy and pure democracy actually becomes mob rule. The practical solution is a form of government that mixes elements of a single ruler, rule by the few and majority rule.

    This idea survived and evolved, and e

    In Politics, Aristotle theorized that in a perfect world, a monarchy would be a benevolent dictatorship, an aristocracy would be rule by the virtuous and democracy would be rule by the people. But because of human frailty, monarchy actually becomes tyranny, aristocracy actually becomes oligarchy and pure democracy actually becomes mob rule. The practical solution is a form of government that mixes elements of a single ruler, rule by the few and majority rule.

    This idea survived and evolved, and eventually the English developed a system of government with a monarch, a House of Lords and a House of Commons. Later, a system of government was created in the United States with a separation of powers among a President, a Senate and a House of Representatives.

    How amazing that Aristotle wrote a book so long ago that has had such influence on world history right up to the present day!

  • Ana

    An interesting treatise, but I can see why only those interested in political theory return to it.

  • Jeremy

    This is quite a turn away from the optimistic "we can figure it all out" tone of the Nicomachean Ethics. In trying to confront both what a state is and how it functions, he creates this weird/insidious master/slave hierarchy, expanding it to encompass children, women, basically anyone who isn't a member of the Athenian aristocracy. While this in and of itself isn't really shocking considering how the typical greek polis maintained and grew it's own power (i.e. going to war, stealing women, land

    This is quite a turn away from the optimistic "we can figure it all out" tone of the Nicomachean Ethics. In trying to confront both what a state is and how it functions, he creates this weird/insidious master/slave hierarchy, expanding it to encompass children, women, basically anyone who isn't a member of the Athenian aristocracy. While this in and of itself isn't really shocking considering how the typical greek polis maintained and grew it's own power (i.e. going to war, stealing women, land and gold etc.) his inability to fully justify this kind of hierarchy without resorting to some knee-jerk idea of a natural order is a huge problem. Slavery and gender inequality are ultimately mandated and reinforced because, well, basically because he says so. Which is a real cop-out compared to the tight, forward reasoning in a lot of his other works. At the same time, he's one of the first thinkers to recognize that for how fucked up and oppressive a state can be towards its members, it gets even more so when issues of money and finance take over and dominate to the point where the only questions that are taken seriously are those pertaining to making more dough. It's a deeply flawed book about a deeply flawed, though inescapable topic.

  • Cody

    Come on Aristotle! You really wrote a lame book man. I'm gonna have to go read Plato's Republic to shake the funk out. I mean hey, I know you're supposed to be one of the world's greatest thinkers and you were the founder of formal logic and all. But dude, your ethics suck. What the jazz are you talking about in this book about how everyone needs to be ruled, and those who lack the rationality to rule themselves need to be ruled by others?

    I mean, I guess that ends up happening to people who lac

    Come on Aristotle! You really wrote a lame book man. I'm gonna have to go read Plato's Republic to shake the funk out. I mean hey, I know you're supposed to be one of the world's greatest thinkers and you were the founder of formal logic and all. But dude, your ethics suck. What the jazz are you talking about in this book about how everyone needs to be ruled, and those who lack the rationality to rule themselves need to be ruled by others?

    I mean, I guess that ends up happening to people who lack rationality as they blindly follow groups like the Republican/Tea Party and the propaganda of the corporate-controlled media. But NOT COOL.

    Slavery = bad. ...Sadly, it appears that your words were prophetic as most of us have become wage slaves.

    And I'm not sure about the city being more important than family which in turn is more important than the individual.

    Tottle talks about politics being more like an organism instead of a machine and that it's a collection of parts where none can exist without the others.

    Aristotle said the city (polis) is not just about laws and economic stability, but it's about pursuing the good and noble life. He stated the goal was to perform noble acts: "The political partnership must be regarded, therefore, as being for the sake of noble actions, not for the sake of living together."

    This is different from Thomas Hobbes, for example, who said there was a social contract where individuals leave the state of nature because of "fear of violent death."

    Aristotle, I think you've inspired me to go read something more fun.

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