In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle develops two quite distinct accounts of the good. The first one, presented in the early chapters of Book I, identifies the good with the object of desire or pursuit (the desire - satisfaction conception of the good). The second account, presented in ch. 7 of Book I and chs. 6-9 of Book X, identifies the good with the function or perfection of man (the functional perfectionist account of the good). Although the relation between these two conceptions of the good remains obscure, it is clear that Aristotle ultimately opts for the functional perfectionist account. This is especially true in the Politics, where in his discussion of the end of the political association Aristotle relies exclusively on the functional perfectionist conception of the good. The reason(s) that lead Aristotle to ultimately adopt the functional /perfectionist conception of the good also remain obscure; in fact, he does not explicitly state his reason“s”. Yet some reasons can be identified as plausible candidates. Aristotle is committed to a form of objectivism about values, and the desire - satisfaction conception of the good fails to meet the objectivity condition while the functional perfectionist one meets this requirement. In addition, Aristotle is committed to an attributive conception of virtue and the good, and the only conception of the good that meets this requirement is the functional perfectionist one.
Another reason, and perhaps the most decisive one in relation to the Politics, is that only the functional perfectionist conception of the good allows for the kind of unity in the polis that is often sought by Plato and Aristotle. Of course, Aristotle is at times critical of Plato’s demand for strict unity in the polis, the kind that reaches down to family matters and even emotional responses. Yet Aristotle himself, by opting for the functional perfectionist conception of the good, seems to be arguing for a kind of political unity that encompasses the goals or ends of the polis and its citizens. Indeed, Aristotle seems to go even further. In at least one instance he claims that “The social (politika) animals are those which have some one common activity (ergon)”. This paper explores Aristotle’s insistence that such a common activity is a requirement for the political association and the various ways in which this requirement can be understood.
When Pericles, the great governor of the Athenian politeia, underscored in his famous Funeral Oration, in 430 B.C., the principles by which the citizens of Athens lived and for which they died in battle, he drew attention to two cherished activities which added distinction to life n the democracy of Athens: Philokaloumen met’ euteleias kai philosophoumen aneu malakias.
Most likely he meant the contributions of Athens’ own citizens, like Aeschylus, who were the paradigms of philokalia, and the works of refugees from the cities of Ionia, like Anaxagoras, who were the illustrious practitioners of philosophia. It was understood that a politeia that lacked the foresight to support and count philokalein and philosophein among its civilizing institutions would risk back-sliding into a state of barbarism. But Pericles’ acknowledgment also signified the admission that neither these nor other civic activities could be properly performed without trust in the divine gift to humanity: nous and practical intelligence. Still, what Pericles had underscored as action in 430 B.C. took almost a whole century and a host of ardent thikners to show that what was claimed as political fact could be fully artculated and founded on theory with the aid of argument.
The people of Athens were free to philosophize and were encouraged to do so by example and education, but it took the great thinkers to explicate the maning of philosophein as a political responsibility and connect it not only to a theory of human nature but also tie it to the very purpose of bios politicos, as the most desirable way of life.
Performing the theoretical task of tis bios was set aside when the classical city declined. However, neither the experience of Ahens nor the political reflections of the Greek philosophers were forgotten. At least the model, though not the substance, of this heritage was invoked centuries later when the deep-rooted practice of feudalism had to be stripped of its inherent intolerance. Socio-economic changes made possible the birth of the modern state. Once the age of liberty had begun in Europe, attendant political doctrines emerged after considerable effort and bloodshed. Lessons that could be learned from the Greeks were scrutinized more for critical picking than for rennaisance of ideas. This distinction lies at the center of my address, which is offered as an attempt at re-assessing Aristotle’s relevance to the complex problems of the modern state as a case of bios politicos. Hence the use of the expression “timely observations” as they relate to modern states.
My remarks address three comparatve issues: (1) the function of the architectonic pronciple that defines politike techne (poliscraft) as the highest art in politeia and its comparable role in the modern state; (2) the basic structural and functional diferences in political axiology, the classical “common good” versus the modern “general will”; and (3) the responsiblity of the classical politikos vis-a-vis that of the modern statesman. In the conclusion I try to draw certain implications these differences have for the function of philosophein itself concerning the problematic of the ends of the rising polyethnic states in the contemporary world.
Homer has expressed the wish that strife between Gods and men be eradicated, while Hesiod distinguished between blameworthy strife that delights in mischief and wholesome strife : the former is the cause of evil works, while the latter is connected whith the development of noble competition between the members of a political community.
Heraclitus, the Apollo of Ephesus, goes against Homer (and his followers) and streses that it is both necessary and just for strife and war to exist.
The fundamental question that ancient Greek thought faced was as follows : how could unity, friendship, concord, and harmony possibly exist in a political society without ossified and stagnant situations and stractures prevailing? According to Heraclitus, strife as a motivating cause is logically sufficient to explain developments and socio-political change, and should in his view be regarded as the dynamic implementation of contraries. Such implementation as aspecific socio-political situation is achieved when there is something common, that is when a common area is defined in which socio-political contraries can exist, albeit temporarily. Although Heraclitus’ thought often moves within the realm of myth, nevertheless it underlines a particular problem. However, Homer’s wish that strife be eradicated is inseparably linked with the deep human desire and the demand for order, peace, concord and social harmony. The Pythagorians and Plato appear to share Homer’s view and attempt to define those conditions necessary for such asituation to prevail. According to them, the devisive forces and the causes of socio-political disturbances are within man. Plato (and perhaps the Pythagoreans before him) introduces measures in The Republic that may perhaps restrict the negative and devisive states connected with the human being (common ownership of goods, women and children, common education of the guardians etc.), while in The Statesman, he appears to believe that the dissimilarity of interests among citizen can be overcome and political unity and harmony secured.
Although Aristotle adopts almost entirely Plato’s penetrating socio-political analysis and anthropological study, he does not believe it is possible for concord, unity and harmony to prevail forever in a political society. Regardless of the political regime, political change is always possible and the causes of political change (which may take the form of social disturbance, the overthrow of one political party and the domination of another, or civic revolt etc.) are many and may act either each one serarately or in combination with each other (profit, honour, hubris, fear, superiority, contempt, increases, intrigue, neglect, trifles, dissimilarity, seePolitics 1301a-1305a). Aristotle adopts Heraclitus’ view : strife that leads to political change is an element of socio-political reality.
If then Heraclitus stressed the need for strife as the constand action of contrary forces, thus introducing what I have already called elsewhere a’dialectical” view of politics, and if Plato, in contrast to Heraclitus, regarded the contrariety of forces as a dialectic of opposites and further, striving for homogeneity, cohesion and harmony in the political society, attributed to the Statesman’s art the achievement of this goal through the weaving together of differences, Aristotle connects political change with that constitutes the nucleus of political society. Strife (the cause of change) is an integral feature of socio-political reality and of the elements that compose this reality (ie. the cityzens).
According to Aristotle, we cannot grasp the reasons and causes of political change and development if we have not correctly understood the concept of political society. This view which has been recently put forward by B. Yack appears to be related to the Aristotelian view of the matter.
Aristotle’s analysis and diagnosis of political change (Nicom. Ethics, Politics) constitutes an exemplary study of the philosophical approach to politics and human affairs, and from this point of view constitutes a reminder for a return to a correct way of philosophising aboyt political matters. Moreover, the approach to political reality and the changes observedin the present can be correctly grasped through the adoption of the Aristotelian method of analysis and diagnosis, which, as it obvious, (overcoming each time the distortion of reality and one-sided dialectic of the determinate contraries and contradictions and adopting a multifarious analytical dialectic between the contraries and opposites) seeks the principles and causes of socio-political developments.
A relatively recent and interesting development in the area of ethics, in general, and, professional ethics, in particular, involves the return by many thinkers to Aristotle’s theory of virtue. As we all know, Aristotle argued that human moral abilities, or morally good habits, or, more simply, virtues, like other kinds of practical abilities, are developed only through repetition and rigorous training.
Recently, several thinkers have argued that the emphasis in ethics, both in business and government, should be shifted from human action to human character, from what people ought and ought not do to what people should be. In other words, they seem to be insisting that we adopt the position of Aristotle and place greater emphasis on the development of moral abilities, or virtues.
This paper shall consist of three parts. First, I shall offer a brief analysis of Aristotle’s theory of virtue. Next, I shall survey selected relevant literature on recent developments in virtue ethics. Finally, I shall offer an assessment of the merits of this recent development in light of its ethical and political merits.
Since justice is central to Aristotle’s political thought, I investigate his account of the virtue of justice. My paper addresses five problems.
I begin by exploring the way in which Aristotle distinguishes particular justice from general justice and from the other virtues. I take general justice and injustice respectively to be appropriate and inappropriate desires for the goods of fortune. I take particular justice to be appropriate desire for what one deserves (i.e. for fair treatment). I take particular injustice to be a desire for more or less than one deserves (i.e. for unfair gain or loss). For example, a person who cheats at cards not to gain money or even to win, but rather to win illegitimately, to get undeserved money and honor, exhibits particular injustice. Thus, the sphere of particular justice does not overlap the spheres of the other virtues.
Since Aristotle opposes particular justice only to one vice, pleonexia, my next project is to show how Aristotle’s account of particular justice fits his doctrine of the mean. I introduce meionexia (a desire for less than one deserves, for unfair treatment) so that particular justice will be bracketed by two vices. I argue that there really are people with this vice, and that Aristotle mentions such people while discussing undue humility.
Third, I explain Aristotle’s puzzling remarks that “it is not possible to treat oneself unjustly” and that “just action is intermediate between acting unjustly and being unjustly treated”. Indeed, I utilize these remarks to support my interpretation of Aristotle’s account of justice.
Actions where the agent is a distributor, but not a recipient are matters of justice, but they are not motivated by general or particular justice or injustice because they do not involve a desire to obtain anything for oneself. I reconcile Aristotle’s account of justice with his description of just action in three stages. First, I interpret nemesis (righteous indignation) as a desire that others get the goods of fortune that they deserve. Second, I show that nemesis is compatible with the doctrine of the mean. Third, I argue that the actions which flow from particular justice plus nemesis match the actions specified by Aristotle’s right rule for particular justice.
Finally, although Aristotle’s account of justice seems to ignore several contemporary, common sense intuitions about justice, I argue that Aristotle’s account of justice plus nemesis actually captures these intuitions. Common sense holds that just people (a) desire the goods of fortune appropriately, (b) desire that their own share be fair, and (c) desire that other people get their fair share. Aristotle calls these desires (a) general justice, (b) particular justice, and (c) nemesis respectively. Common sense says that unjust people (d) desire the goods of fortune more or less than they should, and / or (e) desire unfair gain or loss, and / or (f) desire that others get more or less than they deserve. Aristotle calls these failure modes (d) general injustice, (e) pleonexia and meionexia, and (f) envy, spite, and their opposites. Thus, Aristotle’s account differs from common sense in form, but not in content.
In conclusion, when fleshed out in the way that I suggest, Aristotle’s accounts of general justice, particular justice, and nemesis are plausible, internally consistent, and compatible with Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean.
Political theory was one of the areas on which Aristotle respectfully disagreed with Plato. In the present study, it is my purpose to take a close look at Aristotle’s Critique of Plato’s proposal for the perfect polity in order to determine the specific points of the Platonic utopian scheme which Aristotle’s common sense found objectionable, and to clarify the ways in which the student boldly thought that he could improve upon his teacher’s proposal for radical political reforms.
From our discussion, and in the additional light provided by the total collapse of the Soviet-Style-Socialism, it will become clear that Aristotle has been historically vindicated both in his reservations regarding Plato’s proposals for community of women and property, and in his insistence on the political and ethical importance of monogamous family relations and privately held property which is subject to communal use occasionally.
Many contemporary theorists on rights, such as MacIntyre, Golding, Roshwald, Strauss, Jaffa and many others, have argued that to speak of rights in Aristotle is simply anachronistic. The notion of rights, at least in the sense in which we use the term today, did not come into existence prior the fifteenth century, according to this view, and received its definitive formulation only in the political writings of the classical law of nature philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, such as Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. In this paper I should like to argue against this view and will attempt to show that although it is true that rights talk in Aristotle both in the Politics and the Nicomachean Ethics does not conform to an eighteenth model of rights, there is no compelling reason why a rights theory, be it Aristotelian or another, must conform to this model or be rejected. In challenging this view of rights I will utilized the well-known analysis of rights set forth by Wesley Hohfeld in his classic work on rights theory Fundamental Legal Concepts. According to Hohfeld’s quadripartite division, rights are of four sorts: 1) claim rights; 2) privileges or liberties; 3) powers; 4) immunities. I will argue that all of these senses of “rights” can be found in Aristotle, in such locutions as Űe š›ŽŠťÔÓ, which I render as “just-claim right”, ton politikon dikaion, political rights, archein dikaios, Kyrion, right to rule / authority exousia, liberty rights adeia, immunity rights. Thus it seems clear that there are rights locutions in Aristotle which closely approximate the four fundamental senses of “right” set forth by Hohfeld. I shall further show that there is in Aristotle’s thought the linguistic and conceptual resources to distinguish between political rights which are natural and those which are merely conventional which seems to be the clear sense of the famous passage of the Nicomachean Ethics, V, 7. Finally I will examine the problem posed for rights by the text of Politics VIII, 1 where Aristotle seems to radically subordinate the individual citizen of the polis to the requirements of the state, a text which at least at first glance, seems to argue against rights of individual citizens against the state.
What concerns me in this paper is to find Aristotle reaching conclusions that we reject utterly, say the position of women. And what is more interesting, we no longer accept the truth of the premises those conclusions depend on.
The argument I want to focus on claims that something is natural and we should act (or be) in accordance with it. This means whether one can argue from a factual premise about nature (what it is) to a premise as to what it ought to be (principle of necessity).
In his description of the optimal constitution in Politics VII - VIII Aristotle assigns a great role to the proper and noble employment of leisure: skholazein dunastai kalôs is the ultimate goal of the best man, the best education, and the best constitution (1334a 15-19). Scholars have well expounded Aristotle’s general conception of leisure and its distinctness from Plato’s philosophic withdrawal 1. Yet there remains considerable uncertainty as to the content of Aristotle’s diagôgź, the leisure of mature, educated citizens. There is disagreement among commentators about the precise nature of these pursuits and their purpose. Many have linked diagôgź very closely with the philosopher’s bios theôrźtikos, and seen the notion of leisure in Aristotle’s ideal state to be very close to the philosophic leisure to be found in the Academy or Lyceum; accordingly, Aristotle would be conceiving of diagôgź as intellectual culture that improves the mind as well as the character 2. Others would hold that the activities of leisure were designed at best to confirm habits of moral rather than intellectual virtue; Aristotle’s contribution to political theory of education, on this view, would not be to transform leisure into a kind of continuing education for adults, but simply to ensure that the state would make room for non-degrading pastimes, to be employed by the citizens according to their natures and training 3.
I favor the latter case, and think it may be supported by considering closely Aristotle’s discussion of the use of music in diagôgź : although the contents of ideal diagôgź are only vaguely defined in Politics VII- VIII, the numerous prescriptions for the use of public and private music in the state taken together help us clarify Aristotle’s conception of the nature and role he imagined for diagôgź among the varied musical and recreational activities of the ideal city. I will argue, based on a close analysis of Book VIII chapters 3, 5 and 6 with attention to their historical context, that in his ideal constitution Aristotle left many traditional aspects of aristocratic leisure intact, and that when he speaks of diagôgź he includes traditional forms of leisure such as singing and listening to music at symposia 4. Indeed, it is not enough remarked that there is a strong traditional element in Aristotle’s notion of leisure, deriving ultimately from archaic ideals of hźsukhia 5. If he hoped to allow a place in his constitution for people attracted to leisurely philosophic inquiry, he also realized that for the many who did not aspire to philosophical inquiry the traditional entertainments had and would continue to furnish a valuable and ennobling pastime.
This case study may show that the regulation of music proves to be a revealing theme in the Politics, even if these chapters have been of most interest to students of the Poetics (who indeed in my view have distorted the text). For the regulation of music shows how the legislator approaches certain natural aptitudes of men and structures them into a variety of cultural activities, both high and low. The political theorist approaches music as a natural phenomenon that appeals to all kinds of people and even some animals and seeks to order its undeniable charms so that they may benefit the state if possible but certainly so that they do not harm it. The regulations proposed for music and leisure not only harness its powers, but use them to underwrite important social distinctions, such as that between the free and educated and the rest of the population, the women, slaves, laborers and foreigners whose birth has not rendered them fit for formation.
To those who would charge Aristotle with a Philistine insensitivity to the high value of art, he might reply that they are extravagant in their expectations for popular and public forms of art; and he could add that there is a certain inhumanity or a least inexperience in making all civic activities serve learning.
1. F. Solmsen, “Leisure and Play in Aristotle’s Ideal State”. RhMus. 107 (1964) 193-220.
2. So the commentaries on the Politics by Susemihl and Hicks (p. 542 on 1338a9, and p. 585) and Newman (III p. 529). C. Lord, Education and Culture in the Political Thought of Aristotle (Ithaca 1982) 75-85. S. G. Salkever, “Tragedy and the Education of the Dźmos : Aristotle’s response to Plato”, in Greek Tragedy and Political Theory, ed. J. P. Euben (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1986) p. 286.
3. W. D. Anderson, Ethos and Education in Greek Music (Cambridge MA, 1966) 136-7. Solmsen, p. 216.
4. Contra Solmsen, pp. 213-4.
5. E. Koller, “Musse und musische Paideia: über die Musik - aporetik in der aristotelischen Politik ”, MusHel. 13 (1956) 1-37, 94-124.
The proposed political and economical changes in South Africa as well as that which has already changed in this regard, can be equated to a revolution, although a relatively bloodless one supported by the majority of the population. In this respect the model of Aristotle followed especially in Book V of the Politica, can still be applied to the present political situation in South Africa.
For Aristotle there was one basic cause of political change namely inequality. As he himself states: “Everywhere inequality is a cause of revolution, but an inequality in which there is no proportion …”. To this Aristotle also links a deeply embedded moral cause, namely a feeling or “desire for equality ” (1301b and 1302a). It is especially this desire for equality and the disbanding of discriminatory laws against the black population of South Africa that has brought this country and all its people to the verge of great political changes.
Besides political inequality, other relevant forms of inequality directly or indirectly discussed by Aristotle and which is applicable to the South African situation will also be debated. Eg. economic inequality where differences in annual income of the various population groups has led to many grievances. Social inequality regarding the discrimination against people of race and colour and against women were and still are major factors contributing to social and political conflict. The whole question of poor education could also be mentioned in this regard. Other related causes of political change such as fear, contempt, disproportionate increase in any part of the state and the disproportion of classes, difference of races, etc., mentioned by Aristotle and which could easily be related to the present political situation in South Africa, will also be discussed.
The Aristotelian model of political change linked to the prevailing revolutionary climate in South Africa and the new political dispensation which will hopely be brought about on the 27th April 1994, should be of interest to the political philosopher.
Aristotle identifies ethics as political science. This seems puzzling on two counts. First, ethics seems to be independent of politics. Second, ethics does not seem to be a science. In this paper I claim that Aristotle means what he says. I argue that Aristotle holds that there are universal scientific truths according to which particulars actions can be judged. These are truths about the nature of action and its properties. Further, bases on his claim that the state exists by nature, Aristotle holds that there are no non-political criteria for judging excellent action. The science of ethics is the science of political action.
Aristotle’s theory of intellectual virtue, found in Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics, is perhaps the most poorly understood aspect of his philosophy of ta athrôpeia. In this paper I provide a general definition of what the intellectual virtues are for Aristotle by way of a close examination of the two most neglected items on Aristotle’s table of virtues: sunesis and gnômź. I show that these virtues are the cognitive conditions required for performing well the respective political functions of serving on a deliberative body and of sitting on a jury panel. With this insight into the political character of sunesis and gnômź, we can define intellectual virtues as those cognitive conditions required for performing well the natural, social, and political functions of a human being, or, as Aristotle would put it more simply, the cognitive conditions required for performing well the functions of a human being.
We know now that all the manuscripts of the Politics — except the Vatican Palimpsest V — are relatively late — mostly written after the Fall of Constantinople — and that they all depend on one ‘archetype’ from the sixth century CE, the age of the dissolution of the philosophical schools of Athens, about a century after Proclus.
We also know that the first commentary on this Aristotelian ūÚŠÁŪŠŰŚ›Š — the work of Michael of Ephesus (of which we possess today only a handful of scholia) was written towards the end of ‘the First Byzantine Renaissance’, in the twelfth century.
On the other hand, we also know that Alexander of Aphrodisias refers to the Politics, and so does Proclus. Proclus also wrote an “Examination of what was said by Aristotle, in the Second Book of the Politics, against Plato’s Republic ” (of which only the first pages survive).
Why, then, such a scarcity, both in the MS tradition and in the tradition of the commentaries?
The ancient and mediaeval sources do not enlighten us clearly concerning this problem. The best we can do is form a hypothesis, based on the very few pieces of information we gave on the issue of the use of Aristotelian ūÚŠÁŪŠŰŚÖŠť in the ‘neo’ - Platonic schools.
The famous ‘Harmony between Plato and Aristotle’ never constituted an indisputable dogma in all the Platonic schools. Syrianus, for example, expressed his doubts as to the existence of such ‘harmony’ in what concerns the ‘Theory of Ideas’. Proclus’ “Examination” may quite probably constitute yet another such case of disputing the so-called basic harmony between the ‘dogmata’ of Plato and Aristotle.
The Platonic schools employed Aristotle’s acroamatic writings chiefly as a ūÚÔŰŘžŚťŠ to the Platonic ČūÔūŰŚ›Š. It follows that, when the Platonic ‘dogmata’ were hard to seek, in the midst of dramatic dialogues — then, Aristotle’s logical works, or his Physics, On the Heavens, or Metaphysics, served as facilitating introduction to the ‘Great Mysteries’ of the Platonic dialogues. But in the case of political philosophy, where the Platonic ‘dogmata’ were painlessly accessible in such ‘hyphegetic’ dialogues as Republic or Laws, why waste our time reading the Politics of ‘the other philosopher’, especially — as was already noted by Proclus — in that work Aristotle stands up against the ‘dogmata’ of Plato’s Republic ?
This paper is part of a larger project explaining and defending Aristotle’s provocative thesis that it is not possible to have any one ethical virtue properly without having all the rest. At first sight the thesis about the unity of the virtues seems to be at odds with Aristotle’s brief defence of democracy in Politics III 11, since there Aristotle seems to assume the fragmentation of the virtues; each citizen is supposed to have a share of virtue and practical wisdom (śÚřÓŤůťų) so that together they make the right decisions. In this paper I explain how Aristotle’s thesis about the unity of the virtues and his brief defence of democracy are in fact compatible. In doing so I also explain Aristotle’s cryptic remarks about different aspects and different kinds of practical wisdom in Nicomachean Ethics VI 8 1141b234 - 1142a11. Aristotle’s discussion shows how, contrary to contemporary opinion, it is possible to defend democracy without assuming Ethical Relativism or the “fragmentation of value”.
The aristotelian political philosophy is often regarded in the modern scientific literature as the “antiutopian” one, deprived of some dreams which could go beyond the borders of reality. Some authors try to ground the thesis about the utterly opposite approaches of Plato and Aristotle to the question of the role of the normative ideal in political theory.
But even the most superficial comparison of ‘Politics’ with some notes in the ‘Nikomachean Ethics’ refutes however such a view on the correlation between aristotelian and platonic political thought.
Already in the II book of the ‘Politics’ a tendency to constructive development of the theme of ideal polis easily can be found. It is difficult to support the point of view of W. Jaeger who intended to find the strong line of demarcation between the early ‘metaphysical’ stage of Aristotle’s thought and the late ‘empirical’ one.
It can be emphasized that already the young Aristotle in the ‘Protrepticus’ often prefers an orientation of his arguments to the preplatonic conception of nature when he regards the development of every object as a realization of its ‘primary potention’, as a movement from the original condition to the complete one.
The final end of man is the attaining of autarchy. It is possible only in the state. Certainly any system of laws can not be regarded as a final end of political life. So the good lawgiver must correct the inevitable lacks in the existing constitutions. His activity must be directed however both on the perfect model of government and on such a constitutional form which can be provided for the most possible parts of Greek world. The ‘polity’ expresses the aristotelian ideal of the golden mean.
The initial point for the transition to the polity is ‘the democracy grounded on law’. There are many ‘democratic spots’ in aristotelian project of the ideal state — an autarchical aristocratic community (Pol;, VII 8, 1-2, 5-6).
Proposing the foundation of new cities in the lands of barbarians, Aristotle tried to find the best way to the stabilization of polis-system. Such a perspective had much of common with panhellenistic ideas. But it can be said also that in his vision of the future Aristotle was much more near to Plato than to Isokrates.
The purpose of the paper is not only to analyse Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s political theory (especially concerning the ideal state of Plato’s “Republic” and the second best state of the “Laws”) and to give an explanation of the anthropological, political and metaphysical background of this criticism, but also to discuss the problem whether Aristotle’s criticism is justified in the light of our knowledge today and whether we should today follow a rather Platonic or a rather Aristotelian way of political theory.
This paper aims both to interpret Aristotle’s treatment of the question whether the virtue of the good man and the virtue of the good citizen are the same (Politics III.4) and to assess that treatment. First, the paper argues that Aristotle regards the state not as an institution with an identity apart from its citizens but as just the common activities of its citizens, in particular, their activities of decision and rule. Because these activities can be performed with moral and intellectual virtue, living in a state affords people an opportunity they would not otherwise have to exercise virtues: the activity of decision and rule involved in self-governance is, or could be, an activity of virtue. Since individual happiness is activity in accordance with virtue, and since good citizenship consists of activities in accordance with virtue, acts of citizenship undertaken for the public interest are also in the private interest of the agent, at least for the ruler in the best state. Though this identification holds to a lesser degree for non-rulers in the best state and for citizens of lesser states such as polities, it still enables us to understand why political activity constitutes a way for these people to realize their human nature. Aristotle’s account of virtue and the state show why he ascribes a positive value to politics, and it suggests a way to evaluate and even correct the contemporary state.
Aristotle’s theory of stasis was based on a long tradition which conceived of ůŰņůťų as disease occurring to complex organisms composed of naturally cooperative elements. In this tradition the ontology and intelligibility of stasis rested on a functional point of view that it referred to a condition in which the functions of an organism are coming to a ‘halt’. In this paper, the argument is made that Aristotle’s theory of justice is the groundwork for the understanding of: (1) Aristotle’s theory of general and particular causes of stasis; and (2) it provides the foundations for understanding the outbreaks of civil disorder as instances of injustice, i.e., as different strains of disease in each of the constitutions. A special application of the approach will be discussed with reference to the demise of democracy.
Purpose of this paper is to trace possible influences of Aristotle’s philosophy on the work of the famous Renaissance - philosopher Hobbes. I am supporting the view that, though Hobbes is abruptly critical and hostile towards Aristotle and his philosophy, mainly his ontology and epistemology, he did not avoid a significant influence on Aristotle’s political philosophy, particularly in his treatment of types of goverment, such as aristocracy, oligarchy, tyranny, and democracy.
The reasons of Hobbe’s rejection of Aristotle can be attributed to the fact that Hobbes identifies Aristotle’s philosophy in general with the medieval educational syste and the hostile to Rennaisance thinkers Catholic dogma ignoring in this way progressive aspects of Aristotle’s physical and political theory.
Both in the Politics and in the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle declares that autarkeia (self-sufficiency) is the purpose for which men come together into on state (E. N. 1134a26-27, Pol. 1321b16-18) and philia (friendship) is the decisive factor in the unity and stability of the state (E. N. 1155a22-28, Pol. 1262b7-9, 1280b33-39). But on the other hand he has no hesitation in saying that it is for himself most of all that each man wishes what is good (E. N. 1159a12), and further that the affection, which should be expressed by the word “to idion (my own)” or “to agapźton (my only one)”, is essential to human life (Pol. 1262b23). In addition to this, Aristotle considers that the term “autarkeia ” applies neither to the political life nor to the practical lire, but to the contemplative life (E. N. 1177a27- b26). Is he inconsistent? Or can we find a way out of the difficulty? This paper attempts to get an answer by clarifying the relation between philia and autarkeia .
In the Posterior Analytics, the Physics, and the Metaphysics Aristotle argues that the complete explanation of a thing (apart from a few exceptions) must say what the thing is, what it is made of, what its purpose is, and what brought it into existence: it must describe its form, matter, end, and origin. But this explanatory scheme is scarcely visible in the Politics, and it is a matter of controversy whether it is employed at all. This paper argues that two discussions in the Politics are structured by the scheme of the four causes: Aristotle’s account of the best city in book, VII and his classification of the causes of faction and constitutional change in V. 2. The importance of the topic is in the connections it establishes among some of the central concepts of the Politics and between the Politics and other Aristotelian treatises.
In Book VIII. Chapter 1 of the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle makes the somewhat surprising statement that, because friendship would seem “to hold cities together”, legislators appear to be even more concerned about friendship than justice. Further, because concord (homonoia) is similar to (homoios) friendship (philia), legislators aim at concord “above all” EN 1155a23-25. Aristotle, however, gives very brief discussions of ēŪřÓÔťŠ here, in EN 1167a22 - 1167b16 and in EE 1241a1-35. I will point out that perhaps because of Aristotle’s brevity, and because Aristotle does not overtly discuss ēŪřÓÔťŠ in the Politics [he does of course talk about śťž›Š], there has occurred widespread misappreciation, misunderstanding and even neglect by commentators on the significance of ēŪřÓÔťŠ not only in Aristotle’s ethics and but most especially in his politics.
This paper endeavors to explain the considerable importance of concord in Aristotle’s political philosophy. My central claim is that concord is like or analogous to friendship in the way that each brings about a certain unity and makes possible deliberative or reasoned choice (prohairesis). In concord citizens as a collective act as if of “one mind” or in an “agreement of mind” (homonoousin EE 1241a28) which results in politically wise deliberative choices especially with regard “ruling and being ruled” (archein kai archesthai) EE 1241a33. This sort of activity by citizens is similar to the activity an individual person who, most especially in the experience or moment of proper “self love” (philhautos), renders himself a friend and a unity unto himself and becomes a proper friend to others.
A second important claim of the paper immediately relevant to the first one is that homonoia, as a special type of “political friendship”, characterized by an equally unique “self love”, is necessary for the development of the “mixed” oligarchic / democratic regime Aristotle argues for in the Politics. I will argue that this sense of concord undergirds political systems which have both elements of self-governance and consentual rule. Indeed this last argument will explain why legislators aim at concord “above all”, i.e., above even friendship or justice.
I will suggest further that Aristotle’s notion of concord has implications for international relations, specifically regarding the promotion of democracy. Yet another conclusion that will be drawn is that the above-mentioned meaning of homonoia as “political friendship” is its “primary and natural” (prote kai physe) meaning EE 1241a25 in comparison to a more narrow meaning of “political or civic friendship” (politike philia) discussed in EE 1242b23ff.
During my presentation I will raise and answer questions closely related to the central arguments of the paper such as why Aristotle discusses homonoia in his moral treaties and “appears” to treat it as a moral concern when it has such significance for his political philosophy and for his argument in the Politics for a mixed regime. I will also make the modest suggestion that Aristotle remains largely Platonic in the way that he makes the individual human being and the city analogous to one another.
For Aristotle’s political philosophy one of the basic oppositions was the opposition between oligarchy and democracy. Of the six main types of constitution, oligarchy and democracy were much the most common in classical Greece. For Aristotle in democracy the free-born and poor are a majority rule, and democracy is the government of one of the social sections, as oligarchy is that of another.
Aristotle identifies personal freedom as one of the characteristics of democracy. In democracy the desire to live as one likes is extended to the majority of the citizen body, because the ruling group includes most of the ordinary citizens. But in some cases this desire leads to the appearance of ochlos (the crowd, the mob) instead of demos (the people) in the city. The word ochlos appeared in the first half of the 4th century B.C. (Aeschylus, Pindarus) and became very popular in the time of Xenophon and Plato. For Plato ochlos is a crowd of uneducated people and it is not necessary to give them real knowledge (Gorg. 455a). Ochlos can’t understand harmony and rhetoric (Leg. 670b); in any case it would be suppressed by the city authorities.
The problem is not so clear for Aristotle. He is sure that there is no necessity that the sailors (nautikos ochlos) should be citizens (Pol. 1237b); he is afraid of a great influence of “the market mob” (agoraios ochlos) in political decisions (Pol. 1319a). But Aristotle’s attitude to ochlos is much less emotional than Plato’s one. Ochlos for Aristotle is the multitude, the most numerous part of the citizen body (Pol. 1265a, 1286b). “… Any member of the assembly, taken separately, is certainly inferior to the wise man. But the state is made up of many individuals. And as a feast to which all the guests contribute is better than a banquet furnished by a single man, so a multitude (ochlos) is a better judge of many things than any individual” (Pol. 1286a). In ideal this multitude should consist of free men, citizens, respectable to the law.
For Aristotle ochlos is a natural condition for the citizen body in democracy when the majority can live as it likes.
The subject of the common possession of goods is old and has provoked much debate. The term refers to everything which could be common for all members of a society: goods, women, children etc. From ancient times to the present, we have had many attempts to create communities which would function like a big family. These include the platonic theory of the common possession of women, children and goods.
This theory is explained by Plato in the fifth book of his Republic (449a - 466d) and it is based on a double principle: the establishment of relationships between all the members of the city and the admission of the parity between men and women. And these women who have had the best education, like the boys of the same age, must be common for all men who belong to the guardians’ class. Furthermore, nobody will know his parents, his descendants or his relatives; the result being concord between all the members of the city, because everyone will see the other as if he was his parent, his child or his brother.
Aristotle in the second book of his Politics tries to prove that this theory contains a lot of errors. His arguments are not all equally valid. The philosopher particularly refers to the following points which he considers as wrong: 1) the cause or the purpose of the Socratic theory of common possession is not developed in a satisfactory manner; 2) the realization of this theory is impossible and not well - programmed; 3) the complete unity of the city, according to Socrates’ plan, will reduce it to the condition of a single family or of a single man; 4) the equation of all citizens is also mistaken; 5) given that men care about their own things more than public ones, it follows that the citizens of the Platonic city will not care about the young men, unless these resemble them, a fact that will prove their parentage. 6) In general, the Platonic city will not be able to be protected against violence and conflicts; so the city never becomes happy. 7) Aristotle, in concluding, notes that common possession can be useful if the lands are privately - owned and the fruits common or if the lands are common and the fruits distributed to everyone separately. So everyone ought to have in his possession some lands which must be provided for the use of his friends (1263 a - b).
After this, we discuss briefly the modern conceptions of the system of common possession which can be called “communism” (from the Latin word “communis” = common). The conclusion is that the above-mentioned theory, in spite of its optimistic claims, cannot be realized without making the citizens unhappy.
The basic aim of Aristotle’s Politics is to determine which constitution, or form of government, is the best. This is not for Aristotle a straightforward question, for — as he observes at the beginning of Book IV — one must distinguish between what is best ideally and what is best relative to circumstances and capable of attainment. This distinction, however, is not one which Aristotle observes explicitly in his treatise, nor does it do justice to the full complexity of the issues that Aristotle addresses; for there are in fact in Aristotle’s analysis two conceptions of the ideal constitution which compete for his allegiance, and this tension in his thinking is one which is not easily resolved. The one ideal is found in Books III and IV, wherein he claims that politeia (polity, or constitutional government) is the best, and although this is said to be a complex synthesis of democracy and oligarchy, it can reasonably be said to be something like a purified democracy. The other ideal is elaborated in Book VII, and this is as far from the democratic ideal as is the utopian vision of Plato’s Republic : it is the form of a rigidly class-structured society in which all political and economic power is in the hands of a small moral and intellectual elite, with the entire working segment of the population being essentially enslaved; and this is precisely the sort of society which is condemned in Books III and IV. Without seeking to remove this tension from Aristotle’s thought, it is possible to ask which ideal expresses most truly his convictions; but for an insight into this we have to turn to his Metaphysics, not because that is prote philosophia and hence that upon which his political philosophy rests, but rather because his metaphysical conception of reality expresses his moral and political commitments at least as much as does his discussion of the relative merits of the different kinds of ūÔžťŰŚ›Š .
Many commentators have thought that there is a conflict between the moral foundations of Aristotle’s discussions of the “ideal” constitution in Politics Books BCGH, and those of his account of actual constitutions in Books DEF. It has been contended that the former discussions (especially Book C) reflect a strong commitment to principles of justice of the sort discussed in Nicomachean Ethics Book E, whereas DEF are basically concerned with issues of expediency rather than justice. This has also been offered as a reason for reordering the books or assigning DEF a later date than the other books. This paper argues that there is a closer theoretical connection than this between the different parts of the Politics. specifically, DEF offer the lawgiver and politician two maxims in dealing with inferior constitutions: first, that all parts of the polis should support the constitution (unanimity); and second, that the part that supports the constitution ought to be superior to the part that does not (superiority). The first is satisfied by the mixed constitutions, and the second by the better (or “less worse”) grade of deviant constitutions. This paper argues that in both cases the maxims prescribe the closest approximation to Aristotle’s concept of justice in unavoidable adverse circumstances. Further, DEF repeatedly recommend that the rulers abide by justice in the ordinary sense of respecting the rights of the ruled: i.e. by abstaining from pleonexia, hybris, and atimia. this ordinary sense of justice is also recognized in Nicomachean Ethics E.
In defending the view that there are political rights in Aristotle, Professor Miller argues that political rights (F. D. Miller, 1988; 1991; 1992), in any philosophically interesting sense, must be justified not on merely instrumental or consequentialist grounds; rather, they must be based on the independent interests or ‘well-being’ of citizens who hold these political rights. Now, one very common thesis about rights, and one which I think he is relying on, is that a necessary or sufficient condition for being capable of having a right is being capable of having, or actually having, an interest. Indeed, if we grant this kind of connection between rights and interests, a number of important claims will follow. For instance, if we agree that individual interests can be objectively determined, then clearly we might think that a particular institution can override personally harmful choices or goals for the sake of someone’s best interests. Consequently, if there is this kind of essential link between rights and interests, I think that Professor Miller would be correct in arguing that we needn’t worry that suggestions of paternalism in Aristotle’s best polis, in and of themselves, pose any special threat to individual rights.
But, from the very outset, I think we need to be careful, especially with Aristotle, about how we move from claims about interests to claims about rights. Take the following kinds of examples. It may, for instance, be in the best interests of my
The constitution - citizen relationship is a matter of cardinal importance in the political philosophy of Aristotle. This happens because the citizen himself does not simply constitute an element of the republic but at the same time and par excellence is its final aim, since the republic exists only for the shake of its citizens - members.
Besides, one should also note that the existence of the state aims at its citizens’ happiness, and this happiness presupposes the conquest of virtue, signifying in fact the realization of the nature of man qua man. For the realization of this moral aim the republic (the proper republic) continuously tries tous politas ethikous poiein kai ton nomon hypekoous (N.E. 1102 Š 9-10).
The moral or immoral character of the republic depends on its specific form (constitutional order), since not all the republics aim at the happiness of their citizens. On the other hand the meaning of the citizen himself and its specific reference depends on the kind of the republic: eiper gar pleious eisin ai politeiai, kai eide politou anagaion einai pleio (Pol. 1278 Š 15-16). Therefore, it happens in the best and ideal republic for instance, all the citizens of which are agathoi, not only as citizens but also as human beings, not to have any place of citizen the banausoi, the agoraioi and the georgoi.