Aristotle's 'Politics': A Reader's Guide (Reader's Guides) by Judith A. Swanson

By Judith A. Swanson

Within the Politics, Aristotle units out to find what's the most sensible shape that the country can take. just like his mentor Plato, Aristotle considers the shape that may produce justice and domesticate the top human power; besides the fact that Aristotle takes a extra empirical procedure, reading the structure of present states and drawing on particular case-studies. In doing so he lays the principles of contemporary political technological know-how.

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4–7 For historical and political reasons, Aristotle’s discussion of slavery has become perhaps the most well-known and controversial part of the Politics. Whether or not he deserves his reputation as a defender of practices commonly associated with slavery the reader can decide, but not judiciously without consideration of Aristotle’s empirical observations and the theoretical generalizations he derives from them. Because the latter, concentrated mostly in chapter 5, are central not only to his conception of the master–slave relationship but also to his conception of other forms of rule discussed throughout the Politics, they are the focus of the following commentary.

Private ownership appeals to a person’s natural self-regard or impulse for self-preservation, which differs from selfishness or greed. At the same time and paradoxically, private ownership makes possible generosity; one cannot lend or give away – for example, to friends – that which is not one’s own. Even if generosity like other virtues requires or benefits from encouragement by laws and other means, its precondition is private property and its result, pleasure for the giver. Hence communism precludes generosity and therewith a very pleasurable virtue.

In any case, the excellence of a city depends on the excellence of its women and children. STUDY QUESTIONS 1. What requires investigation in order to understand the manner in which a city should be ruled? 2. What does Aristotle mean by the claim that the city exists by nature? 3. Why is man a political animal? 34 READING THE TEXT 4. Why does Aristotle begin his work with the argument that the city is natural? 5. Why are there slaves and masters? 6. Does Aristotle defend the practice of slavery?

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