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Historical background<br />Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was born in Macedonia. At age 18 he went to Athens and joined Plato's Academy, where he remained for twenty years; his works are full of echoes of Plato. Later he founded his own school, the Lyceum. Socrates never had a school; he philosophized informally, in conversation. Plato's academy was at first probably something like a club, but it developed into a large educational institution like a university. Aristotle's school, the Lyceum, had hundreds or (according to some accounts) thousands of students. Philosophical education became a large industry in Athens, attracting students from all over the Mediterranean. <br />We imagine that in the Academy Plato gave lectures or talks or seminars or held conversations, but we have no record of what he said. He did not write it down. In fact, as he explains in Letter VII 341c, he did not think that philosophy could be learned from writings, but only in conversation: quot;
after much converse about the matter itself and a life lived together, suddenly a light, as it were, is kindled in one soul by a flame that leaps to it from anotherquot;
. Aristotle in some of his writings reports and criticizes theories and arguments he ascribes to Plato that are not found in Plato's dialogues, and it is assumed that these were things Aristotle heard Plato say while he was a member of the Academy. In one place Aristotle uses the word quot;
wequot;
 to refer to himself and the other members of Plato's school, though even there he is rejecting Plato's key doctrine: quot;
Further, of the ways in which we prove that the Forms exist, none is convincing...quot;
 (Metaphysics, I.9).<br />We suppose that in the Lyceum Aristotle gave lectures, and the surviving works of Aristotle seem to be based in some way on such lectures. They do not seem to be works addressed to the general public: they are very concise, often cryptic. Presumably Aristotle elaborated on them in some way when they were used in his school. Perhaps he agreed with Plato that philosophy had to be learnt in live conversation, and perhaps these writings were used as a basis for discussion in the school. (Here is a new word: quot;
aporeticquot;
, meaning making it seem that there is no way out of a problem -- as a prelude of course to showing a way out.) Many passages in Aristotle's works are quot;
aporeticquot;
 or quot;
dialecticalquot;
, i.e. an exploration of a question by examining plausible arguments on both sides without trying to settle the question definitively; such passages perform the same function as Plato's Socratic dialogues, though they are not dialogues in form. But like Plato, Aristotle also wrote dialogues, addressed to the general public. In ancient times literary people like Cicero praised Aristotle's dialogues highly, but curiously they were allowed to perish; they survive only in fragments quoted by other authors. So while Plato wrote only dialogues, Aristotle wrote both dialogues and works for use in his school, and only the latter have survived intact.<br />However, Aristotle's school writings show signs of having been edited by someone other than Aristotle himself. It seems that after his death, or even in his lifetime, some of his colleagues in the school gathered together many shorter writings, some of them fragmentary, only drafts, and cobbled them together into long treatises. Aristotle himself might have begun to do this, but the activity of some other editor is suggested by the fact that fairly often the one work contains two or more different treatments of the same topic: presumably Aristotle would have thrown one of them away or amalgamated them if he had edited his own work, whereas someone else might have been reluctant to throw away or rewrite something Aristotle had written.<br />So Aristotle's books are not easy to read. At first they seem highly organized and comprehensive treatises, but when you read them you often find that the plan announced at the beginning is not actually carried out, that there are overlaps and gaps, and so on. The book we will look at, the Politics, is in eight books. Some scholars (see W.D. Ross, Aristotle, p. 235) suggest that the work would have been better organized if books VII and VIII came before book IV and book VI before book V. Books I and II are a unit. Book III seems like a new beginning of a complete treatise on politics; so do Books IV and VII. The beginnings of these books are not included in the Readings, but if you have access to a complete copy of the Politics read book III chapter 1, book IV chapter 1, and book VII chapter I, and you will see what I mean: each makes no reference to any earlier part of the book, each reads like the beginning of a complete investigation (see for example [1290 a13-29], which gives the program of the investigation). It would be a good idea to look at the beginning and the last paragraph of each of the eight books. Even within the more or less coherent parts of the work there are signs that it has been put together so to speak with scissors and sticky tape. I don't say this to discourage you from reading it. In fact a less polished work is often more thought provoking than one in which the author has tied up all the loose ends.<br />The Politics<br />Books I and II: THE HOUSEHOLD<br />Read I.1.<br />quot;
Some people thinkquot;
: cf. Plato, Statesman [258e- 259d]. <br />quot;
The distinction between king and statesmanquot;
 or politician: A kingly or royal regime is rule over free subjects by one who is their superior in virtue, who rules continually, without being subject to law; a quot;
politicalquot;
 or quot;
constitutionalquot;
 regime or quot;
polityquot;
 is one in which the citizens are equals and take turns to rule under law. This is explained in Politics [I.7]. <br />quot;
The compound should always be resolved into the simple elementsquot;
 (a principle borrowed from Plato): The elements of the state are villages, households, individuals. Book I of the Politics is mostly about the household.<br />Aristotle begins chapter 2 by saying that if we want to obtain the clearest view of things we must consider them quot;
in their first growth and originquot;
 (compare Plato, Republic, 369ab, Readings, p. 59). In the next few paragraphs, which are omitted in the Readings, Aristotle discusses the elements from which the city originates. First comes the family, then several families unite to form a village; when several villages unite into a community large enough to be self-sufficient they form a state (city, polis) -- quot;
originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good lifequot;
 (1252 b28).<br />A political animal<br />At this point another, and distinctively Aristotelian, principle comes into play: that the nature of something is best seen (not by analysis into elements, or by looking to its origins, but) by studying the mature and fully-developed specimen. To understand a thing's nature you do not look to its origin but to its full development. In nature the fully-developed instance is the goal or end toward which development takes place, so if you look to the end you can understand the earlier stages of development.<br />If the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state, for it is the end of them, and the nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature... Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal [1252 b30-1253 a3]<br />A quot;
political animalquot;
 means an animal whose nature is to live in a polis or city, not isolated or in small groups. quot;
Civilizationquot;
 (from Latin civitas, a city) is the natural state for the human animal. It is the natural state not in the sense that it is the original state, but in the sense that the natural goal of human development is life in cities. This is a rejection of the idea common at the time, and since, that civilization is artificial, conventional, unnatural. Aristotle would have agreed with the 18th century writer who said (I can't remember who it was!) that quot;
it is natural to man to be artificialquot;
. (On the contrast between convention (law, nomos) and nature (physis) see Thucydides V.105, Readings, p. 40, and compare I.76, Readings, p. 11).<br />In Aristotle's philosophy, quot;
naturequot;
 (in Greek physis, from which we get quot;
physicsquot;
) -- nature is the principle of growth or development: a thing's nature is what makes it develop in a certain way, and development is for the sake of its goal. Aristotle's physics is said to be teleological, from the Greek word quot;
telosquot;
, a goal or end: according to Aristotle every nature exists for some purpose. (However, he did not think that nature was designed by a mind; Aristotle did believe, for philosophical reasons, in a supreme being or god, but he believed that the world had existed eternally, that it was not created by God, that God was not the designer of things. Natural purposes are, so to speak, blind and unconscious, except in human beings.)<br />Read the extracts from chapter 2, 1253a 7-39 (Readings, p. 101)<br />A comment:<br />1253 a19, quot;
The state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the individualquot;
: not prior in time, but more fundamental. Its nature is what the thing is when fully-developed; this goal or end determines the various stages that lead to it and is quot;
priorquot;
 in that sense.<br />Property<br />Reverting to the method of analysis into components, Aristotle goes on (in chapters 3 and 4, omitted from the Readings) to discuss the family or household, starting with its property, including slaves. Property includespossessions and instruments, which Aristotle distinguishes. Possessions are means to human activity and instruments are means to the production of artifacts (the products being either possessions or instruments, i.e. means either to further production or to human action). Artisans or employees in farming or industry are human beings who are means to production; slaves are human beings who are possessions, means to action -- domestic servants, secretaries. The slave quot;
wholly belongsquot;
 to the master [1254 a13].<br />In chapter 3, when he talks about the slave as part of the household, Aristotle raises a question: Some say quot;
that the rule of a master over slaves is contrary to nature, and that the distinction between slave and freeman exists by convention only, and not by nature; and being an interference with nature is therefore unjustquot;
 [1253 b20-3]. In chapter 3 he does not pursue the question of the justice of slavery, but he takes it up again in chapter 5, our next extract.<br />Is slavery just?<br />Read I.5<br />quot;
For that some should rule and others be ruledquot;
: this is not by itself a proof that slavery is natural, since there are (as Aristotle often says) several kinds of rule, rule over slaves being only one kind; he says this for example in the very first chapter of the Politics, Readings, p. 101. So the fact that some are rulers, others ruled, is irrelevant to showing that some of the others should be slaves. In fact, everything at least down to 1254 b16 is irrelevant to the question. <br />quot;
Despoticalquot;
, quot;
constitutionalquot;
, quot;
royalquot;
 (1254 b4-5): Despotic rule is the rule of a master (despotes) over slaves. The difference between despotic rule and the others is that the master rules the slave for the master's good, whereas the constitutional ruler or king rules for the subject's good. The slave exists for the master's good. quot;
The rule of a master... is... exercised primarily with a view to the interest of the masterquot;
 (III.6, [1278 b35]). <br />quot;
Where then there is such a differencequot;
 (1254 b15): [Compare I.2, 1252 a31-5.] Whether such a difference ever does exist is the vital question left unanswered. The passage at the end of chapter 5 (quot;
Nature would like... the beauty of the soul is not seenquot;
) acknowledges that such a difference does not exist or is not discernible. But even if it were true that some human beings could understand directions but not devise plans for themselves, would this prove that they exist for the good of the planners?<br />A correction to 1254 b22: read quot;
enough to apprehend it [i.e. reason], but not to have it, is...quot;
<br />quot;
It is clear, thenquot;
 (1255 a2): It is not!<br />This chapter illustrates the suggestion that many parts of Aristotle's works were put together with sticky-tape by some editor, possibly not Aristotle himself. At beginning of the chapter and the end the editor has supplied a definite statement, which is not borne out by the argument between. Joints between fragments seem visible (put dividing marks into the text at these points) at 1254 a24 (quot;
And there arequot;
); 25 (quot;
(and that)quot;
); 29 (quot;
for in allquot;
 -- what follows does not support the statement that there are many kinds of rulers); 36 (quot;
But then); 1254 b3 (quot;
At all eventsquot;
); 4 (quot;
And it is clearquot;
); 12 (quot;
Againquot;
); etc. Between these segments there is no real connection. Re-read the passage and consider its coherence.<br />READ I.6<br />Some comments: <br />quot;
Power seems to imply virtuequot;
 (1255 a16): Aristotle does not himself hold that superior power implies moral superiority. This chapter is exploratory. <br />quot;
A common interestquot;
 (1255b 14): Namely, the master's.<br />Apart from the introductory and concluding remarks of chapter 5 (1254 a20, 1255 b1), these two chapters could be taken as dialectical, i.e. as a quasi-dialogue between two points of view without any resolution of the question. However, in many places in the Politics it is clear that Aristotle did hold that there are natural slaves. quot;
The slave has no deliberative faculty at allquot;
 (I.13, [1260 a12]). quot;
Slaves and brute animals... cannot [form a state], for they have no share in happiness or in a life of free choicequot;
; III.9, 1280 a32-4 (Readings, top of p. 105). He does not again refer to the possibility that the enslavement of war captives (the main source of slaves in ancient Greece) might be unjust. It seems that Aristotle did accept this institution of Greek life, though some of his contemporaries were questioning it.<br />Women<br />In various places in book I Aristotle refers to women. In 1252 b1 (not included in Readings) he says that quot;
nature has distinguished between the female and the slavequot;
 -- so women are not slaves. However, they are normally subordinate to men. At 1254 b13 (Readings, p. 102) he says: quot;
Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruledquot;
. Women are ruled, not as slaves are, for the master's benefit, but for their own good, just as the rulers of a city must seek the good of the citizens, not the good of the rulers (this is a point we will come to later, but it will already be familiar from Plato). And the rule of husband over wife is like quot;
constitutionalquot;
 government. In chapter 12, [1259 a40-] he says:<br />A husband and father... rules over wife and children, both free [i.e. neither is a slave], but the rule differs, the rule over his children being a royal, over his wife a constitutional rule. For although there may be exceptions to the order of nature [i.e. occasionally a wife may be wiser than her husband], the male is by nature fitter for command than the female... But in most constitutional states the citizens rule and are ruled by turns, for the idea of a constitutional state implies that the natures of the citizens are equal, and do not differ at all. Nevertheless, when one rules and the other is ruled we endeavour to create a difference of outward forms and names and titles of respect... The relation of the male to the female is of this kind, but there the inequality is permanent.<br />This passage seems to say that the relation of husband to wife is like the relationship of ruler to ruled in a constitutional government, in which citizens take turns to rule because quot;
the natures of the citizens are equal and do not differ at allquot;
, though it is customary to pay the rulers special respect; but in marriage there is a permanent inequality. He seems to want to say that men and women are by nature equal, like citizens in a constitutional regime, but permanently unequal. This seems contradictory.<br />In the next chapter, [chapter 13 of book I] there is a discussion of the question whether slaves and freemen, women and men, have the same virtues. If we say that slaves can have the same virtues as freemen, then why are they slaves? On the other hand, since they are human beings and have reason, it seems absurd to say that they have no virtue. Similarly with women. We can generalise the problem, and ask in general about natural ruler and natural subject: quot;
if a noble nature is equally required in both, why should one of them always rule and the other always be ruled?quot;
<br />Aristotle answers in terms of his theory of the parts of the soul. You will remember that Plato distinguished three parts of the human soul, the reason, the spirited part and the desires. Aristotle also makes a distinction within the reason. One part of the soul is reasonable in the sense that it deliberates, reasons, and draws conclusions -- he sometimes calls this the deliberative faculty; another part of the soul is reasonable in the sense that it is persuadable by reasoning. The emotions are persuadable. It is possible to reason someone into a different state of feeling; it is sometimes possible to reason yourself into a different state of feeling -- to reduce fear, for example, by reflecting on the real facts about the apparent dangers or by reflecting on the importance and value of what it is one has to do in the face of real dangers. Corresponding to the two reasonable parts of the soul there are two sets of virtues: there are intellectual virtues, virtues of the reasoning or deliberative faculty, and there are moral virtues, virtues of the persuadable part, the part of the soul that is capable of being influenced by reasoning. Courage, for example, is a moral virtue that consists in the responsiveness of one's fears to reasoning. (Aristotle relates the kinds of virtues to the parts of the soul in another work, the Nicomachean Ethics; see the extract in Readings, p.98, RH.)<br />How does this distinction between parts of the soul and kinds of virtue resolve the questions whether slaves and women can have virtues and if so why should they always be subordinate, though in different ways, to free men? Aristotle's answer seems to be that slaves can have only the virtues belonging to the part of the soul that is influenced by reasoning, while women can also have the intellectual virtues, but in a subordinate way. quot;
For the slave has no deliberative faculty at all; the woman has, but it is without authorityquot;
 [1260 a12]. This of course prompts the question why is a woman's deliberative faculty without authority? Aristotle does not ask or answer this question. He concludes that all human beings including slaves have moral virtue, that free men and women have intellectual virtue also, but that in women the moral and intellectual virtues are marked by subordination: quot;
Clearly, then, moral virtue belongs to all of them [i.e. to women, slaves and free men]; but the temperance of a man and of a woman, or the courage and justice of a man and of a woman, are not, as Socrates maintained, the same; the courage of a man is shown in commanding, of a woman in obeyingquot;
 [1260a 20-23]. (The reference to Socrates is to Socrates' theory that the virutes are just different names for one and the same thing, namely knowledge, knowledge of the relative goodness and evil of the things among which we have to choose, available at the moment of choice: if all the virtues are really this one thing, then there can't be different virtues for different people.)<br />It is interesting that despite his acquaintance with Plato's thinking on this subject, Aristotle accepts the customary subordination of women to men without being able to justify it.<br />Well, this completes our sampling of Book I. The main topic has been the family or household as the element from which states are formed, and the aspects we have looked at are slavery and the place of women -- topics Aristotle does not handle well (it's a pity these topics come early in the book, because readers may be discouraged from reading the rest of the book); another topic of Book I that we haven't looked at is the family's property.<br />Book II is a discussion of the views of various other thinkers on the best state, including Plato's sketch of such a state in The Republic. We will read Aristotle's criticisms of Plato's views on private property and the family.<br />Against the abolition of the family<br />Plato proposed that among the guardians there should be no separate families (Republic [416-7]). His argument for this is that then there will be more unity in the state; re-read Republic 462-4 (Readings, p. 68-9).<br />Against this Aristotle says:<br />For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Everyone thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect something which he expects another to fulfil; as in families many attendants are often less useful than a few. Each citizen will have a thousand sons who will not be his sons individually, but anybody will be equally the son of anybody, and will therefore be neglected by all alike [1261 b34-1262 a2].<br />Private vs common property<br />Plato also proposed that the Guardians should not have private property.<br />Read Aristotle, book II, ch. 5 (Readings, p. 103) to 1264 a4.<br />Notice these arguments carefully. In one form or other they have often been used in favour of the institution of private property. Notice what Aristotle says near the bottom LH of p. 103, 1263 a21ff; his preference is for a society in which individuals are in charge of particular things but freely allow others to use them.<br />This is all we will read of Book II. Criticism of Plato's Republic occupies II.1-5, criticism of his book The Laws occupies II.6. Chapters 7 and 8 criticise other utopias. The rest of book II criticises Sparta, Crete and Carthage, often regarded (especially by conservatives) as models to which other states should conform. Aristotle's writings often include a survey of what other thinkers have said about the question he is writing about. After the survey of opinions about the best state you would expect him to present his own view of what kind of state is best, but in fact we don't come to that until book VII.<br />Book III makes a new beginning. quot;
He who would inquire into the essence and attributes of various kinds of government must first of all determine 'What is a state?'quot;
 After a preliminary discussion of who counts as a citizen [III.1-5], he raises the question How many kinds of state are there? How many kinds of constitutions are there? Are some constitutions good or true forms and others bad? This is the part of Book III we will look at.<br />Books III-IV: KINDS OF CONSTITUTIONS<br />First, what does he mean by a constitution? Passages not in the Readings make it clear that a quot;
constitutionquot;
 need not be a body of law or something officially written down. A city's constitution is the organisation of its magistracies or offices. Every ordered state has a constitution, since every such state has some organisation of magistracies. [See 1278 b9, 1289 b15, 1290 a8-9]. In Aristotle's teleological philosophy organisation is always for the sake of some end or purpose.<br />The true end or purpose of the state, he says, is to help its members live, and to live a good life. Re-read the opening paragraph of the Politics, Readings, p. 101. Constitutions which aim at the good life for the citizens are true constitutions, those which aim at the good of the rulers only are perversions [1279 a17-21]. There are echoes here of Plato; remember in The Republic Socrates' argument with Thrasymachus, in which Socrates argued that government is an art the purpose of which is to further the good of the governed.<br />Read III.7, Readings, p. 104.<br />quot;
Aristocracyquot;
: rule by the best (aristos). In practice this usually meant rule by the well-born, those of noble family, who referred to themselves as quot;
the best peoplequot;
. <br />quot;
The generic name -- a constitutionquot;
: or quot;
polityquot;
 (politeia, constitution). In modern English quot;
polityquot;
 is not a common word, but when it is used it means form of government or type of constitution; thus one might speak of a democratic polity or a monarchical polity. Aristotle uses quot;
polityquot;
 both in that way, as the generic name for a constitution of any sort, and as the name of one of the sorts. One of the kinds of polity is quot;
polityquot;
, i.e. the polity or form of government in which all citizens rule and are ruled in turn. The idea of polity is that all citizens should take short turns at ruling. It is an inclusive form of government: everyone has a share of political power. He sometimes calls it quot;
polityquot;
, sometimes quot;
politicalquot;
 or quot;
constitutionalquot;
 government -- these are interchangeable. <br />quot;
Oligarchyquot;
, the generic name for rule by a few, is also the name of one kind of rule by the few, the perverted kind which seeks to further the interest of the wealthy few. <br />quot;
Democracyquot;
 means literally rule by the people, but Aristotle and other ancient writers use it to mean rule exclusively by the poor in their own interest.<br />It would be a good idea to put down on paper the classification this passage suggests:<br />Classification of ConstitutionsGoodBadOneKingshipTyrannyFewAristocracyOligarchyManyPolityDemocracy<br />For the rows quot;
rule of onequot;
, etc., compare Herodotus III.80-83 (see Readings, p. 1). The quot;
goodquot;
 and quot;
badquot;
 columns come from Plato. This is the classification put forward by Plato. Plato used quot;
democracyquot;
 for both kinds of rule by the many, because he saw little difference between good and bad rule by many -- at its best, democracy is too weak to do much good and at its worst too weak to do much harm, according to Plato. Turn back and re-read Plato, Statesman, 302c-303b (Readings, pp. 90-91.<br />In that passage Plato mentions a seventh form (ibid., 302c), which Aristotle also mentions in a number of passages not included in the Readings: quot;
If, however, there be some one person, or more than one... whose virtue is so pre-eminent that the virtues or the political capacity of all the rest admit of no comparison with his or theirsquot;
, then he or they should be supreme and not bound by laws [1284 a3-17]; that is, under those circumstances the city should be governed by a king or an aristocracy unfettered by rules and laws. Aristotle often alludes to this ideal constitution [1284 b25-35, 1288 a7-30, 1289 a30-2, 1293 b25-8, 1332 b17-25]. But whereas Plato calls the seventh the true constitution and the others imitations, Aristotle calls three of the others quot;
truequot;
, and mentions the seventh only incidentally: in the Politics attention is focussed mostly not on the ideal form of government but on the quot;
second bestquot;
, or best practicable. (Cf. [IV.1], and Plato, Laws, 739a-c).<br />Read III.8. (Readings p. 104).<br />A similar point is made in IV.4, [1290 a30-b20]. The criticism Aristotle is making here is that Plato's classification obscures the really significant dividing line, which is not between the few and the many but between the rich and the poor. This is the first of many criticisms Aristotle will suggest of Plato's classification, which he seemed in III.7 to endorse.<br />Who should rule?<br />Read III.9<br />quot;
Let us beginquot;
: this seems to be the beginning of a discussion introduced by the last sentence of chapter 8, of the grounds on which various groups claim power in the state. These groups include the rich and the poor, and also the well-born (i.e. those who come from noble families) and the virtuous. The discussion continues to the end of chapter 13. It begins with a consideration of the purpose for which the state exists, because this will determine who should rule. The discussion reaches no firm conclusions, but Aristotle seems to favour the Platonic view that power should be held by the virtuous.<br />quot;
Nor does a state exist for the sake of... securityquot;
 (1280 a35 -- cf. b27, b32): Aristotle here rejects what is sometimes called the quot;
night-watchmanquot;
 or quot;
minimalistquot;
 view of the state held in the 19th century by some liberals and these days by quot;
libertariansquot;
. Aristotle is echoed by Edmund Burke: A state quot;
is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfectionquot;
; Reflections on the Revolution in France (World's Classics edn., p. 106).<br />This brings us to the question whether the poor or the rich should rule. quot;
If the poor,... because they are more in number, divide among themselves the property of the rich, -- is not this unjust?quot;
 [1281 a13-15]. quot;
Again, when in the first division all has been taken, and the majority divide anew the property of the minority, is it not evident, if this goes on, that they will ruin the state?quot;
 [1281 a18]. These passages will remind you of Macaulay's objections against democracy (Readings, vol. 2, p. 362). On the other hand, Aristotle sees some force in arguments in favour of democracy.<br />Read III.11<br />This is an answer to some of Plato's arguments against democracy.<br />quot;
Among them they understand the wholequot;
 (1281 b9): taken literally this is nonsense. They need to discuss, and communicate to all, or most, what each has understood; and for this they may not have the necessary time, goodwill or ability. <br />quot;
To assign them some deliberative and judicial functions... but... not allow them to hold office singlyquot;
 (1281 b30): This is in effect a combination of oligarchy and democracy. As we will see later, Aristotle himself thinks that the best practicable state, the one in which virtue has the best chance of influence, is one in which some political functions are assigned to the many poor and other functions to the few rich, so as to produce a balance of the classes (compare J.S. Mill).<br />quot;
All professions and artsquot;
 (1282 a1): Plato holds that government is, or can be, an art, and infers that only a few should rule because only a few can master any art (cf. Statesman, 292e-3a, Readings, pp. 84-5, and 297bc, Readings, p. 87). Aristotle suggests that quot;
the intelligent man who has studied the artquot;
, but not enough to be a practitioner, may be a good judge. Also, the quot;
consumerquot;
 may be better than the producer at judging the quality of the product (1282 a17-).<br />Discussion of the question quot;
Who should rule?quot;
 continues to the end of chapter 13. The discussion is exploratory, not definitive.<br />Kingship<br />Book III, chapter 14, begins a discussion of the first of the forms of government listed in chapter 7, kingship. In chapter 14 he distinguishes five different kinds of kingship. One of these is kingship not subject to law. Plato argued that the ideally best form of government is one in which the philosopher is a king unfettered by any law: Statesman, 294, 295 (Readings, pp. 85-6).<br />Read III.15 (Readings, p. 106 RH).<br />The argument of 1286 a38 (quot;
Or...quot;
 ) is that for a given standard of virtue, many rulers are better than one.<br />Read III.16<br />This is also against Plato. Aristotle advocates what is called quot;
the rule of lawquot;
 or quot;
the rule of laws, not menquot;
. See also his Rhetoric, I.1, 1354 a30-b15 (Readings, p. 117, near the bottom LH).<br />Aristotle does not deny Plato's point that laws framed in general terms cannot provide for unusual cases. It must be possible for magistrates to make exceptions:<br />When the law speaks universally, and a case arises on it which is not covered by the universal statement, then it is right... to say what the legislator himself would have... put into his law if he had known... And this is the nature of the equitable, a correction of law where it is defective owing to its universalityquot;
; Nichomachean Ethics, V.10.<br />The outcome of Aristotle's discussion of kingship is that normally it is not a good constitution. Where men are alike and equal, the rule of a king is inappropriate [III.17, 1288 a1-5]. If there is someone whose virtue exceeds that of all the others put together, he should be king [1288 a15-19, 35-8]; cf. [1284 a3-7], but obviously, this is not likely to happen often.<br />Now if some men excelled others in the same degree in which gods and heroes are supposed to excel mankind in general... so that the superiority of the governors was undisputed and patent to their subjects, it would clearly be better that once for all the one class should rule and the others serve. But since this is unattainable, and kings have no marked superiority over their subjects... it is obviously necessary on many grounds that all the citizens alike should take their turn of governing and being governed [1332 b17-27].<br />The term Aristotle uses for the regime in which citizens take their turn to govern is quot;
Constitutionalquot;
 or quot;
politicalquot;
 government, or quot;
polityquot;
. Normally, then, political government is preferable to kingship.<br />Democracy, oligarchy and polity<br />Book IV discusses three more of the types of constitution listed in III.7, namely democracy, oligarchy and polity. There are several different kinds of democracy and several different kinds of oligarchy. One of his unstated aims is to show that the tabulation of III.7 is an over-simplification. The terms quot;
fewquot;
 and quot;
manyquot;
 both cover a range of social categories, differing from one city to another, and the term quot;
rulequot;
 covers a range of activities carried out through different organs. It matters a good deal which activity is allocated to which social category -- which organ of government is controlled by which of the groups covered by the umbrella terms quot;
fewquot;
 and quot;
manyquot;
. Depending on exactly how power is distributed, there are several different kinds of each of the forms of government in Plato's table. [On the parts of the state and the diversity of activities in ruling, see IV.3, 1289 b26-1290 a13; IV.4, 1290 b21-1291 b30. On the several kinds of each of Plato's forms of government see III.14, IV.4 (1291 b15 ff), IV.5, IV.10. These points are probably directed against Plato. See 1316 b25-8.]<br />After discussing the several different kinds of democracy and oligarchy, in chapters 8 and 9 Aristotle discusses the kind of polity that he calls quot;
polityquot;
. He generally defines this as the form of government in which all the citizens take turns to rule, but now he defines it in terms of the idea just introduced, that rule is a complex of activities that can be allocated to different social categories. Polity is the form of government in which different organs of government are controlled by different sections of the population, in such a way that both rich and poor have a share of power. Perhaps it is because power is shared by all categories that it can be said that all take turns to rule.<br />Polity is quot;
a fusion of oligarchy and democracyquot;
 [1293 b34], in an attempt to quot;
unite the freedom of the poor and the wealth of the richquot;
 [1294 a17]. The fusion or mixture is made by including in the constitution some features generally associated with democracy, such as an assembly open to all citizens, with other features generally associated with oligarchy, such as election to high office (wealth is an advantage in electoral contests).<br />The mixture can be more democratic or more oligarchical; polities with more oligarchical features are sometimes called quot;
aristocraciesquot;
, because they favour wealth, and good family and education tend to go with wealth [1293 b36, 1294 a19-25].<br />Read IV.9.<br />Note that election is an oligarchical practice; democracies choose office bearers by lot, on the assumption that all are competent enough.<br />Read IV.11, IV.12<br />So a quot;
polityquot;
, a fusion of democracy and oligarchy, requires a balance of social classes, of rich and poor; a strong middle class holds the balance. (For the influence of these ideas on J.S. Mill and other liberal writers of the 19th century, see “Liberal Democracy”, “Influence of Aristotle’s Polity”.)<br />Book V: REVOLUTIONS<br />Book V is about revolution. Revolutions often arise out of equality and inequality and ideas of justice. Democracy is based on the idea that those who are equally free should be absolutely equal, oligarchy on the idea that those unequal in property should be unequal politically [1301 a28-35; cf. 1280 a9-25, 1283 a25-8]. (Aristotle himself thinks that justice requires that equals be treated equally, unequals unequally, the treatment being proportioned to some relevant respect in which people are equal or unequal; (see Nicomachean Ethics, [V.3] and Politics [III.12]; cf. Plato, Laws, [757]). The chief cause of the feelings that lead to revolution is a desire for equality, when men think they are equal to others who have more, or for inequality, when they think they are superior [1302 a23-7]. There are other causes of revolution -- insolence of magistrates, honour and dishonour, fear, disproportionate increase in some part of a state, election intrigues, difference of race, etc. Aristotle gives various instances, drawn presumably from his school's researches into constitutional history [V.3, 4]. (Members of the Lyceum wrote studies of the constitutional history of 158 regimes. Only fragments have survived. The Constitution of Athens, attributed to Aristotle himself, was lost for centuries but was rediscovered in 1891. These 158 constitutional histories may have provided the historical illustrations found in many parts of the Politics, especially in the extracts following.)<br />Read the extracts from book V (chapters 5, 6, 8, 9, 11).<br />In [1316 a1-] Aristotle criticises Plato's account of revolutions (Republic, [544-]).<br />Book VI: MORE ABOUT DEMOCRACY AND OLIGARCHY<br />Book VI goes over some of the same topics as Book IV in a clearer and more economical way. (As I remarked earlier, the presence in Aristotle's works of parallel treatments of the same matters is one reason for suspecting that they were edited by someone other than Aristotle -- assuming that the author himself would have consolidated or discarded more ruthlessly.) We will read a few extracts.<br />Read VI.2<br />There follows a discussion of kinds of democracy (cf. IV.6). It is best when the high offices are elected, and the democratic assembly can call the office holders to account. quot;
The principle of responsibility secures that which is the greatest good in states; the right persons rule and are prevented from doing wrong, and the people have their duequot;
 [1319 a1-5]. Compare J.S. Mill on the idea of a rational democracy, Readings, vol. 2, p. 366.<br />Preserving democracy and oligarchy<br />Read VI.5<br />Compare this with V.9, Readings, p. 112. His idea is that a regime will last better if it includes features of the opposite kind of constitution and conciliates people who might otherwise hanker after the opposite kind of constitution. This is one of the strengths of quot;
polityquot;
: it combines democracy and oligarchy.<br />Read VI.7<br />This is about the preservation of oligarchies. It shows Aristotle's appreciation of the role of force in politics. quot;
It is an impossible thing that those who are able to use or to resist force should be willing to remain always in subjection... those who carry arms can always determine the fate of the constitutionquot;
 [1329 a8-12]. [Compare 1268 a18-26, 1279 b1-3, 1297 b1, 1304 a20-40, 1306 a20-30]. A stable constitution gives power to those who would otherwise take it. In Aristotle's preferred constitution, polity, the citizens are those who possess arms. Compare Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 33, and Thucydides VIII.97.<br />Retrospect over books III-VI<br />Book VI ends discussion of the kinds of constitutions that began at III.7. Plato's sixfold classification has been left well behind. Talk of rule by one, few or many is gross over-simplification. quot;
Rulequot;
 is something complex, done by means of many organs, control over which may be allocated in various ways to various sections of the population. Talk of quot;
goodquot;
 or quot;
badquot;
 rule is also over-simple: there are degrees of goodness, which depend on the way in which control has been allocated. Any of the forms may be good or bad in one of its varieties or under some circumstances. Plato's account of the transition from one form to another is also oversimple. Tyranny can develop out of either democracy or oligarchy, if either is carried to an extreme.<br />In Aristotle's view the significant dividing line in politics is between rich and poor. The best practicable constitution will be one in which the interests of these two groups are balanced in a fusion of democracy and oligarchy; it is best because it is just and stable. How the balance is best achieved depends on circumstances. The balanced constitution may be called aristocracy or, if it is more democratic, quot;
polityquot;
.<br />The notion of polity, or the constition consisting in a combination of oligarchical and democratic elements, is one of Aristotle's most influential contributions to political thought. It is a likely source of Mill's idea of representative government, which is substantially what we have and call democracy. quot;
There is a true union of oligarchy and democracy when the same state may be termed either a democracy or an oligarchyquot;
 (1294 b15).<br />Aristotle was not the only advocate in ancient times of a mixed or balanced constition. See Plato, Laws, 691c-701e, and Thucydides VIII.97. Another was Polybios; see K. von Fritz, The Theory of the Mixed Constitution in Antiquity. Polybios wrote in Greek a history of Rome, in which he argued that the virtue of the Roman republican constitution was that it combined monarchy (the consuls), aristocracy (the Senate) and democracy (in plebiscites and certain other functions). Aristotle's mixed constitution does not include monarchy, and he is interested in mixing democratic and oligarchic institutions because he wants to distribute power between rich and poor, which was not in Polybios' mind. Polybios' version of the mixed constitution came down through Cicero and other ancient writers to medieval and modern times (Montesquieu; Blackstone). Its most notable monument is the American constitution, where the relations between President, Senate and Congress fit the Polybian scheme. Mill's idea of balancing classes in a representative government is close to Aristotle, not Polybios.<br />Books VII and VIII: THE IDEAL CITY<br />Book VII is the counterpart in Aristotle's work to Plato's Republic, a description of what it would be best to do if we had to found a new state.<br />In inquiry about the best form of state it is necessary to decide first which is the most eligible (choice-worthy, preferable) life for individuals. Aristotle summarises parts of his quot;
discussions outside the schoolquot;
 (dialogues, presumably, now lost) quot;
concerning the best lifequot;
. A happy man must have external goods, goods of the body (e.g. health), and goods of the soul (virtue). quot;
Some think that a very moderate amount of virtue is enough, but set no limit to their desires of wealth, property, power, reputation and the likequot;
 [1323 a35-40] -- i.e. of external goods. But experience shows that quot;
happiness... is more often found with those who are most highly cultivated in their mind and in their character, and have only a moderate share of external goods, than among those who possess external goods to a useless extent but are deficient in higher qualitiesquot;
 [1323 b1-5]. quot;
Let us acknowledge then that each one has just so much of happiness as he has of virtue and wisdom, and of virtuous and wise actionquot;
 [1323 b22-3]. quot;
The best life, both for individuals and states, is the life of virtue, when virtue has external goods enough for the performance of good actionsquot;
 [1323 b40-]. (Compare N.E., book I, chs. 5, 7 and 8 (some extracts in Readings, pp 97-8); cf. Politics [VII.13]).<br />quot;
Now it is evident that the form of government is best in which every man, whoever he is, can act best and live happilyquot;
 [1324 a23-5]. It is irrational to design a city for military power, to rule tyrannically over its neighbours [1324 b1-; cf. 1333 a35-1334 a10]. (Compare Plato, Laws, 625-.) quot;
Warlike pursuits... are not the supreme end of all things, but only means. And the good lawgiver should inquire how states and races of men and communities may participate in a good life, and in the happiness which is attainable by themquot;
 [1325 a5-10]. The happy life is one of virtuous activity.<br />quot;
Activityquot;
 is not to be construed too narrowly: thinking is activity. quot;
Not that a life of action must necessarily have relation to others, as some persons think, nor are those ideas only to be regarded as practical which are pursued for the sake of practical results, but much more the thoughts and contemplations which are independent and complete in themselvesquot;
, i.e. philosophy and science -- see E.N., book X, chs. 7 and 8. quot;
Virtuous activity, and therefore a certain kind of action, is an end, and even in the case of external actions the directing mind is most truly said to actquot;
 [1325 b17-23].<br />The good state will therefore be one which makes it possible for its citizens to engage in intelligent and virtuous activity, including scientific and philosophical thinking. For some of this activity leisure is needed; see VII.15. Aristotle probably assumes that citizens will be active in the dramatic performances, gymnasia, games and religious functions customary in Athens. Compare Plato, Laws, 803-4.)<br />Details of the ideal city<br />Aristotle then goes on (chs. 4-8) to discuss the appropriate population, site, etc. for the ideal city. He comes then to the allocation of functions to various sections of the population. quot;
The citizens must not live the life of mechanics [artisans] or tradesmen, for such a life is ignoble and inimical to virtuequot;
 [1328 b40]. Since quot;
those who carry arms can always determine the fate of the constitutionquot;
 [1329 a12] the deliberative assembly should consist of the warriors, or older men of the warrior class. This quot;
is just, and is founded upon a principle of conformity to merit. Besides, the ruling class should be the owners of property, for they are citizens, and the citizens of a state should be in good circumstances; whereas mechanics or any other class which is not a producer of virtue have no share in the state... The husbandmen will of necessity be slaves or barbarian Perioeciquot;
 [1329 a16-26; cf. 1330 a25-35.] (Perioeci are resident non-citizens.) quot;
It is expedient that liberty should be always held out to them as the reward of their servicesquot;
 [1330 a34]. Thus citizens live the life of virtuous activity, and farmers and artisans, who cannot live such a life, are excluded from citizenship.<br />Chapters 13-15 look like another version of the first chapters of the book. They are followed by a discussion of marriage, upbringing of children and education, which continues to the end of book VIII, the end of The Politics.<br />
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)
Aristotle's Politics (Summary)

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Aristotle's Politics (Summary)

  • 1. Historical background<br />Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was born in Macedonia. At age 18 he went to Athens and joined Plato's Academy, where he remained for twenty years; his works are full of echoes of Plato. Later he founded his own school, the Lyceum. Socrates never had a school; he philosophized informally, in conversation. Plato's academy was at first probably something like a club, but it developed into a large educational institution like a university. Aristotle's school, the Lyceum, had hundreds or (according to some accounts) thousands of students. Philosophical education became a large industry in Athens, attracting students from all over the Mediterranean. <br />We imagine that in the Academy Plato gave lectures or talks or seminars or held conversations, but we have no record of what he said. He did not write it down. In fact, as he explains in Letter VII 341c, he did not think that philosophy could be learned from writings, but only in conversation: quot; after much converse about the matter itself and a life lived together, suddenly a light, as it were, is kindled in one soul by a flame that leaps to it from anotherquot; . Aristotle in some of his writings reports and criticizes theories and arguments he ascribes to Plato that are not found in Plato's dialogues, and it is assumed that these were things Aristotle heard Plato say while he was a member of the Academy. In one place Aristotle uses the word quot; wequot; to refer to himself and the other members of Plato's school, though even there he is rejecting Plato's key doctrine: quot; Further, of the ways in which we prove that the Forms exist, none is convincing...quot; (Metaphysics, I.9).<br />We suppose that in the Lyceum Aristotle gave lectures, and the surviving works of Aristotle seem to be based in some way on such lectures. They do not seem to be works addressed to the general public: they are very concise, often cryptic. Presumably Aristotle elaborated on them in some way when they were used in his school. Perhaps he agreed with Plato that philosophy had to be learnt in live conversation, and perhaps these writings were used as a basis for discussion in the school. (Here is a new word: quot; aporeticquot; , meaning making it seem that there is no way out of a problem -- as a prelude of course to showing a way out.) Many passages in Aristotle's works are quot; aporeticquot; or quot; dialecticalquot; , i.e. an exploration of a question by examining plausible arguments on both sides without trying to settle the question definitively; such passages perform the same function as Plato's Socratic dialogues, though they are not dialogues in form. But like Plato, Aristotle also wrote dialogues, addressed to the general public. In ancient times literary people like Cicero praised Aristotle's dialogues highly, but curiously they were allowed to perish; they survive only in fragments quoted by other authors. So while Plato wrote only dialogues, Aristotle wrote both dialogues and works for use in his school, and only the latter have survived intact.<br />However, Aristotle's school writings show signs of having been edited by someone other than Aristotle himself. It seems that after his death, or even in his lifetime, some of his colleagues in the school gathered together many shorter writings, some of them fragmentary, only drafts, and cobbled them together into long treatises. Aristotle himself might have begun to do this, but the activity of some other editor is suggested by the fact that fairly often the one work contains two or more different treatments of the same topic: presumably Aristotle would have thrown one of them away or amalgamated them if he had edited his own work, whereas someone else might have been reluctant to throw away or rewrite something Aristotle had written.<br />So Aristotle's books are not easy to read. At first they seem highly organized and comprehensive treatises, but when you read them you often find that the plan announced at the beginning is not actually carried out, that there are overlaps and gaps, and so on. The book we will look at, the Politics, is in eight books. Some scholars (see W.D. Ross, Aristotle, p. 235) suggest that the work would have been better organized if books VII and VIII came before book IV and book VI before book V. Books I and II are a unit. Book III seems like a new beginning of a complete treatise on politics; so do Books IV and VII. The beginnings of these books are not included in the Readings, but if you have access to a complete copy of the Politics read book III chapter 1, book IV chapter 1, and book VII chapter I, and you will see what I mean: each makes no reference to any earlier part of the book, each reads like the beginning of a complete investigation (see for example [1290 a13-29], which gives the program of the investigation). It would be a good idea to look at the beginning and the last paragraph of each of the eight books. Even within the more or less coherent parts of the work there are signs that it has been put together so to speak with scissors and sticky tape. I don't say this to discourage you from reading it. In fact a less polished work is often more thought provoking than one in which the author has tied up all the loose ends.<br />The Politics<br />Books I and II: THE HOUSEHOLD<br />Read I.1.<br />quot; Some people thinkquot; : cf. Plato, Statesman [258e- 259d]. <br />quot; The distinction between king and statesmanquot; or politician: A kingly or royal regime is rule over free subjects by one who is their superior in virtue, who rules continually, without being subject to law; a quot; politicalquot; or quot; constitutionalquot; regime or quot; polityquot; is one in which the citizens are equals and take turns to rule under law. This is explained in Politics [I.7]. <br />quot; The compound should always be resolved into the simple elementsquot; (a principle borrowed from Plato): The elements of the state are villages, households, individuals. Book I of the Politics is mostly about the household.<br />Aristotle begins chapter 2 by saying that if we want to obtain the clearest view of things we must consider them quot; in their first growth and originquot; (compare Plato, Republic, 369ab, Readings, p. 59). In the next few paragraphs, which are omitted in the Readings, Aristotle discusses the elements from which the city originates. First comes the family, then several families unite to form a village; when several villages unite into a community large enough to be self-sufficient they form a state (city, polis) -- quot; originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good lifequot; (1252 b28).<br />A political animal<br />At this point another, and distinctively Aristotelian, principle comes into play: that the nature of something is best seen (not by analysis into elements, or by looking to its origins, but) by studying the mature and fully-developed specimen. To understand a thing's nature you do not look to its origin but to its full development. In nature the fully-developed instance is the goal or end toward which development takes place, so if you look to the end you can understand the earlier stages of development.<br />If the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state, for it is the end of them, and the nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature... Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal [1252 b30-1253 a3]<br />A quot; political animalquot; means an animal whose nature is to live in a polis or city, not isolated or in small groups. quot; Civilizationquot; (from Latin civitas, a city) is the natural state for the human animal. It is the natural state not in the sense that it is the original state, but in the sense that the natural goal of human development is life in cities. This is a rejection of the idea common at the time, and since, that civilization is artificial, conventional, unnatural. Aristotle would have agreed with the 18th century writer who said (I can't remember who it was!) that quot; it is natural to man to be artificialquot; . (On the contrast between convention (law, nomos) and nature (physis) see Thucydides V.105, Readings, p. 40, and compare I.76, Readings, p. 11).<br />In Aristotle's philosophy, quot; naturequot; (in Greek physis, from which we get quot; physicsquot; ) -- nature is the principle of growth or development: a thing's nature is what makes it develop in a certain way, and development is for the sake of its goal. Aristotle's physics is said to be teleological, from the Greek word quot; telosquot; , a goal or end: according to Aristotle every nature exists for some purpose. (However, he did not think that nature was designed by a mind; Aristotle did believe, for philosophical reasons, in a supreme being or god, but he believed that the world had existed eternally, that it was not created by God, that God was not the designer of things. Natural purposes are, so to speak, blind and unconscious, except in human beings.)<br />Read the extracts from chapter 2, 1253a 7-39 (Readings, p. 101)<br />A comment:<br />1253 a19, quot; The state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the individualquot; : not prior in time, but more fundamental. Its nature is what the thing is when fully-developed; this goal or end determines the various stages that lead to it and is quot; priorquot; in that sense.<br />Property<br />Reverting to the method of analysis into components, Aristotle goes on (in chapters 3 and 4, omitted from the Readings) to discuss the family or household, starting with its property, including slaves. Property includespossessions and instruments, which Aristotle distinguishes. Possessions are means to human activity and instruments are means to the production of artifacts (the products being either possessions or instruments, i.e. means either to further production or to human action). Artisans or employees in farming or industry are human beings who are means to production; slaves are human beings who are possessions, means to action -- domestic servants, secretaries. The slave quot; wholly belongsquot; to the master [1254 a13].<br />In chapter 3, when he talks about the slave as part of the household, Aristotle raises a question: Some say quot; that the rule of a master over slaves is contrary to nature, and that the distinction between slave and freeman exists by convention only, and not by nature; and being an interference with nature is therefore unjustquot; [1253 b20-3]. In chapter 3 he does not pursue the question of the justice of slavery, but he takes it up again in chapter 5, our next extract.<br />Is slavery just?<br />Read I.5<br />quot; For that some should rule and others be ruledquot; : this is not by itself a proof that slavery is natural, since there are (as Aristotle often says) several kinds of rule, rule over slaves being only one kind; he says this for example in the very first chapter of the Politics, Readings, p. 101. So the fact that some are rulers, others ruled, is irrelevant to showing that some of the others should be slaves. In fact, everything at least down to 1254 b16 is irrelevant to the question. <br />quot; Despoticalquot; , quot; constitutionalquot; , quot; royalquot; (1254 b4-5): Despotic rule is the rule of a master (despotes) over slaves. The difference between despotic rule and the others is that the master rules the slave for the master's good, whereas the constitutional ruler or king rules for the subject's good. The slave exists for the master's good. quot; The rule of a master... is... exercised primarily with a view to the interest of the masterquot; (III.6, [1278 b35]). <br />quot; Where then there is such a differencequot; (1254 b15): [Compare I.2, 1252 a31-5.] Whether such a difference ever does exist is the vital question left unanswered. The passage at the end of chapter 5 (quot; Nature would like... the beauty of the soul is not seenquot; ) acknowledges that such a difference does not exist or is not discernible. But even if it were true that some human beings could understand directions but not devise plans for themselves, would this prove that they exist for the good of the planners?<br />A correction to 1254 b22: read quot; enough to apprehend it [i.e. reason], but not to have it, is...quot; <br />quot; It is clear, thenquot; (1255 a2): It is not!<br />This chapter illustrates the suggestion that many parts of Aristotle's works were put together with sticky-tape by some editor, possibly not Aristotle himself. At beginning of the chapter and the end the editor has supplied a definite statement, which is not borne out by the argument between. Joints between fragments seem visible (put dividing marks into the text at these points) at 1254 a24 (quot; And there arequot; ); 25 (quot; (and that)quot; ); 29 (quot; for in allquot; -- what follows does not support the statement that there are many kinds of rulers); 36 (quot; But then); 1254 b3 (quot; At all eventsquot; ); 4 (quot; And it is clearquot; ); 12 (quot; Againquot; ); etc. Between these segments there is no real connection. Re-read the passage and consider its coherence.<br />READ I.6<br />Some comments: <br />quot; Power seems to imply virtuequot; (1255 a16): Aristotle does not himself hold that superior power implies moral superiority. This chapter is exploratory. <br />quot; A common interestquot; (1255b 14): Namely, the master's.<br />Apart from the introductory and concluding remarks of chapter 5 (1254 a20, 1255 b1), these two chapters could be taken as dialectical, i.e. as a quasi-dialogue between two points of view without any resolution of the question. However, in many places in the Politics it is clear that Aristotle did hold that there are natural slaves. quot; The slave has no deliberative faculty at allquot; (I.13, [1260 a12]). quot; Slaves and brute animals... cannot [form a state], for they have no share in happiness or in a life of free choicequot; ; III.9, 1280 a32-4 (Readings, top of p. 105). He does not again refer to the possibility that the enslavement of war captives (the main source of slaves in ancient Greece) might be unjust. It seems that Aristotle did accept this institution of Greek life, though some of his contemporaries were questioning it.<br />Women<br />In various places in book I Aristotle refers to women. In 1252 b1 (not included in Readings) he says that quot; nature has distinguished between the female and the slavequot; -- so women are not slaves. However, they are normally subordinate to men. At 1254 b13 (Readings, p. 102) he says: quot; Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruledquot; . Women are ruled, not as slaves are, for the master's benefit, but for their own good, just as the rulers of a city must seek the good of the citizens, not the good of the rulers (this is a point we will come to later, but it will already be familiar from Plato). And the rule of husband over wife is like quot; constitutionalquot; government. In chapter 12, [1259 a40-] he says:<br />A husband and father... rules over wife and children, both free [i.e. neither is a slave], but the rule differs, the rule over his children being a royal, over his wife a constitutional rule. For although there may be exceptions to the order of nature [i.e. occasionally a wife may be wiser than her husband], the male is by nature fitter for command than the female... But in most constitutional states the citizens rule and are ruled by turns, for the idea of a constitutional state implies that the natures of the citizens are equal, and do not differ at all. Nevertheless, when one rules and the other is ruled we endeavour to create a difference of outward forms and names and titles of respect... The relation of the male to the female is of this kind, but there the inequality is permanent.<br />This passage seems to say that the relation of husband to wife is like the relationship of ruler to ruled in a constitutional government, in which citizens take turns to rule because quot; the natures of the citizens are equal and do not differ at allquot; , though it is customary to pay the rulers special respect; but in marriage there is a permanent inequality. He seems to want to say that men and women are by nature equal, like citizens in a constitutional regime, but permanently unequal. This seems contradictory.<br />In the next chapter, [chapter 13 of book I] there is a discussion of the question whether slaves and freemen, women and men, have the same virtues. If we say that slaves can have the same virtues as freemen, then why are they slaves? On the other hand, since they are human beings and have reason, it seems absurd to say that they have no virtue. Similarly with women. We can generalise the problem, and ask in general about natural ruler and natural subject: quot; if a noble nature is equally required in both, why should one of them always rule and the other always be ruled?quot; <br />Aristotle answers in terms of his theory of the parts of the soul. You will remember that Plato distinguished three parts of the human soul, the reason, the spirited part and the desires. Aristotle also makes a distinction within the reason. One part of the soul is reasonable in the sense that it deliberates, reasons, and draws conclusions -- he sometimes calls this the deliberative faculty; another part of the soul is reasonable in the sense that it is persuadable by reasoning. The emotions are persuadable. It is possible to reason someone into a different state of feeling; it is sometimes possible to reason yourself into a different state of feeling -- to reduce fear, for example, by reflecting on the real facts about the apparent dangers or by reflecting on the importance and value of what it is one has to do in the face of real dangers. Corresponding to the two reasonable parts of the soul there are two sets of virtues: there are intellectual virtues, virtues of the reasoning or deliberative faculty, and there are moral virtues, virtues of the persuadable part, the part of the soul that is capable of being influenced by reasoning. Courage, for example, is a moral virtue that consists in the responsiveness of one's fears to reasoning. (Aristotle relates the kinds of virtues to the parts of the soul in another work, the Nicomachean Ethics; see the extract in Readings, p.98, RH.)<br />How does this distinction between parts of the soul and kinds of virtue resolve the questions whether slaves and women can have virtues and if so why should they always be subordinate, though in different ways, to free men? Aristotle's answer seems to be that slaves can have only the virtues belonging to the part of the soul that is influenced by reasoning, while women can also have the intellectual virtues, but in a subordinate way. quot; For the slave has no deliberative faculty at all; the woman has, but it is without authorityquot; [1260 a12]. This of course prompts the question why is a woman's deliberative faculty without authority? Aristotle does not ask or answer this question. He concludes that all human beings including slaves have moral virtue, that free men and women have intellectual virtue also, but that in women the moral and intellectual virtues are marked by subordination: quot; Clearly, then, moral virtue belongs to all of them [i.e. to women, slaves and free men]; but the temperance of a man and of a woman, or the courage and justice of a man and of a woman, are not, as Socrates maintained, the same; the courage of a man is shown in commanding, of a woman in obeyingquot; [1260a 20-23]. (The reference to Socrates is to Socrates' theory that the virutes are just different names for one and the same thing, namely knowledge, knowledge of the relative goodness and evil of the things among which we have to choose, available at the moment of choice: if all the virtues are really this one thing, then there can't be different virtues for different people.)<br />It is interesting that despite his acquaintance with Plato's thinking on this subject, Aristotle accepts the customary subordination of women to men without being able to justify it.<br />Well, this completes our sampling of Book I. The main topic has been the family or household as the element from which states are formed, and the aspects we have looked at are slavery and the place of women -- topics Aristotle does not handle well (it's a pity these topics come early in the book, because readers may be discouraged from reading the rest of the book); another topic of Book I that we haven't looked at is the family's property.<br />Book II is a discussion of the views of various other thinkers on the best state, including Plato's sketch of such a state in The Republic. We will read Aristotle's criticisms of Plato's views on private property and the family.<br />Against the abolition of the family<br />Plato proposed that among the guardians there should be no separate families (Republic [416-7]). His argument for this is that then there will be more unity in the state; re-read Republic 462-4 (Readings, p. 68-9).<br />Against this Aristotle says:<br />For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Everyone thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect something which he expects another to fulfil; as in families many attendants are often less useful than a few. Each citizen will have a thousand sons who will not be his sons individually, but anybody will be equally the son of anybody, and will therefore be neglected by all alike [1261 b34-1262 a2].<br />Private vs common property<br />Plato also proposed that the Guardians should not have private property.<br />Read Aristotle, book II, ch. 5 (Readings, p. 103) to 1264 a4.<br />Notice these arguments carefully. In one form or other they have often been used in favour of the institution of private property. Notice what Aristotle says near the bottom LH of p. 103, 1263 a21ff; his preference is for a society in which individuals are in charge of particular things but freely allow others to use them.<br />This is all we will read of Book II. Criticism of Plato's Republic occupies II.1-5, criticism of his book The Laws occupies II.6. Chapters 7 and 8 criticise other utopias. The rest of book II criticises Sparta, Crete and Carthage, often regarded (especially by conservatives) as models to which other states should conform. Aristotle's writings often include a survey of what other thinkers have said about the question he is writing about. After the survey of opinions about the best state you would expect him to present his own view of what kind of state is best, but in fact we don't come to that until book VII.<br />Book III makes a new beginning. quot; He who would inquire into the essence and attributes of various kinds of government must first of all determine 'What is a state?'quot; After a preliminary discussion of who counts as a citizen [III.1-5], he raises the question How many kinds of state are there? How many kinds of constitutions are there? Are some constitutions good or true forms and others bad? This is the part of Book III we will look at.<br />Books III-IV: KINDS OF CONSTITUTIONS<br />First, what does he mean by a constitution? Passages not in the Readings make it clear that a quot; constitutionquot; need not be a body of law or something officially written down. A city's constitution is the organisation of its magistracies or offices. Every ordered state has a constitution, since every such state has some organisation of magistracies. [See 1278 b9, 1289 b15, 1290 a8-9]. In Aristotle's teleological philosophy organisation is always for the sake of some end or purpose.<br />The true end or purpose of the state, he says, is to help its members live, and to live a good life. Re-read the opening paragraph of the Politics, Readings, p. 101. Constitutions which aim at the good life for the citizens are true constitutions, those which aim at the good of the rulers only are perversions [1279 a17-21]. There are echoes here of Plato; remember in The Republic Socrates' argument with Thrasymachus, in which Socrates argued that government is an art the purpose of which is to further the good of the governed.<br />Read III.7, Readings, p. 104.<br />quot; Aristocracyquot; : rule by the best (aristos). In practice this usually meant rule by the well-born, those of noble family, who referred to themselves as quot; the best peoplequot; . <br />quot; The generic name -- a constitutionquot; : or quot; polityquot; (politeia, constitution). In modern English quot; polityquot; is not a common word, but when it is used it means form of government or type of constitution; thus one might speak of a democratic polity or a monarchical polity. Aristotle uses quot; polityquot; both in that way, as the generic name for a constitution of any sort, and as the name of one of the sorts. One of the kinds of polity is quot; polityquot; , i.e. the polity or form of government in which all citizens rule and are ruled in turn. The idea of polity is that all citizens should take short turns at ruling. It is an inclusive form of government: everyone has a share of political power. He sometimes calls it quot; polityquot; , sometimes quot; politicalquot; or quot; constitutionalquot; government -- these are interchangeable. <br />quot; Oligarchyquot; , the generic name for rule by a few, is also the name of one kind of rule by the few, the perverted kind which seeks to further the interest of the wealthy few. <br />quot; Democracyquot; means literally rule by the people, but Aristotle and other ancient writers use it to mean rule exclusively by the poor in their own interest.<br />It would be a good idea to put down on paper the classification this passage suggests:<br />Classification of ConstitutionsGoodBadOneKingshipTyrannyFewAristocracyOligarchyManyPolityDemocracy<br />For the rows quot; rule of onequot; , etc., compare Herodotus III.80-83 (see Readings, p. 1). The quot; goodquot; and quot; badquot; columns come from Plato. This is the classification put forward by Plato. Plato used quot; democracyquot; for both kinds of rule by the many, because he saw little difference between good and bad rule by many -- at its best, democracy is too weak to do much good and at its worst too weak to do much harm, according to Plato. Turn back and re-read Plato, Statesman, 302c-303b (Readings, pp. 90-91.<br />In that passage Plato mentions a seventh form (ibid., 302c), which Aristotle also mentions in a number of passages not included in the Readings: quot; If, however, there be some one person, or more than one... whose virtue is so pre-eminent that the virtues or the political capacity of all the rest admit of no comparison with his or theirsquot; , then he or they should be supreme and not bound by laws [1284 a3-17]; that is, under those circumstances the city should be governed by a king or an aristocracy unfettered by rules and laws. Aristotle often alludes to this ideal constitution [1284 b25-35, 1288 a7-30, 1289 a30-2, 1293 b25-8, 1332 b17-25]. But whereas Plato calls the seventh the true constitution and the others imitations, Aristotle calls three of the others quot; truequot; , and mentions the seventh only incidentally: in the Politics attention is focussed mostly not on the ideal form of government but on the quot; second bestquot; , or best practicable. (Cf. [IV.1], and Plato, Laws, 739a-c).<br />Read III.8. (Readings p. 104).<br />A similar point is made in IV.4, [1290 a30-b20]. The criticism Aristotle is making here is that Plato's classification obscures the really significant dividing line, which is not between the few and the many but between the rich and the poor. This is the first of many criticisms Aristotle will suggest of Plato's classification, which he seemed in III.7 to endorse.<br />Who should rule?<br />Read III.9<br />quot; Let us beginquot; : this seems to be the beginning of a discussion introduced by the last sentence of chapter 8, of the grounds on which various groups claim power in the state. These groups include the rich and the poor, and also the well-born (i.e. those who come from noble families) and the virtuous. The discussion continues to the end of chapter 13. It begins with a consideration of the purpose for which the state exists, because this will determine who should rule. The discussion reaches no firm conclusions, but Aristotle seems to favour the Platonic view that power should be held by the virtuous.<br />quot; Nor does a state exist for the sake of... securityquot; (1280 a35 -- cf. b27, b32): Aristotle here rejects what is sometimes called the quot; night-watchmanquot; or quot; minimalistquot; view of the state held in the 19th century by some liberals and these days by quot; libertariansquot; . Aristotle is echoed by Edmund Burke: A state quot; is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfectionquot; ; Reflections on the Revolution in France (World's Classics edn., p. 106).<br />This brings us to the question whether the poor or the rich should rule. quot; If the poor,... because they are more in number, divide among themselves the property of the rich, -- is not this unjust?quot; [1281 a13-15]. quot; Again, when in the first division all has been taken, and the majority divide anew the property of the minority, is it not evident, if this goes on, that they will ruin the state?quot; [1281 a18]. These passages will remind you of Macaulay's objections against democracy (Readings, vol. 2, p. 362). On the other hand, Aristotle sees some force in arguments in favour of democracy.<br />Read III.11<br />This is an answer to some of Plato's arguments against democracy.<br />quot; Among them they understand the wholequot; (1281 b9): taken literally this is nonsense. They need to discuss, and communicate to all, or most, what each has understood; and for this they may not have the necessary time, goodwill or ability. <br />quot; To assign them some deliberative and judicial functions... but... not allow them to hold office singlyquot; (1281 b30): This is in effect a combination of oligarchy and democracy. As we will see later, Aristotle himself thinks that the best practicable state, the one in which virtue has the best chance of influence, is one in which some political functions are assigned to the many poor and other functions to the few rich, so as to produce a balance of the classes (compare J.S. Mill).<br />quot; All professions and artsquot; (1282 a1): Plato holds that government is, or can be, an art, and infers that only a few should rule because only a few can master any art (cf. Statesman, 292e-3a, Readings, pp. 84-5, and 297bc, Readings, p. 87). Aristotle suggests that quot; the intelligent man who has studied the artquot; , but not enough to be a practitioner, may be a good judge. Also, the quot; consumerquot; may be better than the producer at judging the quality of the product (1282 a17-).<br />Discussion of the question quot; Who should rule?quot; continues to the end of chapter 13. The discussion is exploratory, not definitive.<br />Kingship<br />Book III, chapter 14, begins a discussion of the first of the forms of government listed in chapter 7, kingship. In chapter 14 he distinguishes five different kinds of kingship. One of these is kingship not subject to law. Plato argued that the ideally best form of government is one in which the philosopher is a king unfettered by any law: Statesman, 294, 295 (Readings, pp. 85-6).<br />Read III.15 (Readings, p. 106 RH).<br />The argument of 1286 a38 (quot; Or...quot; ) is that for a given standard of virtue, many rulers are better than one.<br />Read III.16<br />This is also against Plato. Aristotle advocates what is called quot; the rule of lawquot; or quot; the rule of laws, not menquot; . See also his Rhetoric, I.1, 1354 a30-b15 (Readings, p. 117, near the bottom LH).<br />Aristotle does not deny Plato's point that laws framed in general terms cannot provide for unusual cases. It must be possible for magistrates to make exceptions:<br />When the law speaks universally, and a case arises on it which is not covered by the universal statement, then it is right... to say what the legislator himself would have... put into his law if he had known... And this is the nature of the equitable, a correction of law where it is defective owing to its universalityquot; ; Nichomachean Ethics, V.10.<br />The outcome of Aristotle's discussion of kingship is that normally it is not a good constitution. Where men are alike and equal, the rule of a king is inappropriate [III.17, 1288 a1-5]. If there is someone whose virtue exceeds that of all the others put together, he should be king [1288 a15-19, 35-8]; cf. [1284 a3-7], but obviously, this is not likely to happen often.<br />Now if some men excelled others in the same degree in which gods and heroes are supposed to excel mankind in general... so that the superiority of the governors was undisputed and patent to their subjects, it would clearly be better that once for all the one class should rule and the others serve. But since this is unattainable, and kings have no marked superiority over their subjects... it is obviously necessary on many grounds that all the citizens alike should take their turn of governing and being governed [1332 b17-27].<br />The term Aristotle uses for the regime in which citizens take their turn to govern is quot; Constitutionalquot; or quot; politicalquot; government, or quot; polityquot; . Normally, then, political government is preferable to kingship.<br />Democracy, oligarchy and polity<br />Book IV discusses three more of the types of constitution listed in III.7, namely democracy, oligarchy and polity. There are several different kinds of democracy and several different kinds of oligarchy. One of his unstated aims is to show that the tabulation of III.7 is an over-simplification. The terms quot; fewquot; and quot; manyquot; both cover a range of social categories, differing from one city to another, and the term quot; rulequot; covers a range of activities carried out through different organs. It matters a good deal which activity is allocated to which social category -- which organ of government is controlled by which of the groups covered by the umbrella terms quot; fewquot; and quot; manyquot; . Depending on exactly how power is distributed, there are several different kinds of each of the forms of government in Plato's table. [On the parts of the state and the diversity of activities in ruling, see IV.3, 1289 b26-1290 a13; IV.4, 1290 b21-1291 b30. On the several kinds of each of Plato's forms of government see III.14, IV.4 (1291 b15 ff), IV.5, IV.10. These points are probably directed against Plato. See 1316 b25-8.]<br />After discussing the several different kinds of democracy and oligarchy, in chapters 8 and 9 Aristotle discusses the kind of polity that he calls quot; polityquot; . He generally defines this as the form of government in which all the citizens take turns to rule, but now he defines it in terms of the idea just introduced, that rule is a complex of activities that can be allocated to different social categories. Polity is the form of government in which different organs of government are controlled by different sections of the population, in such a way that both rich and poor have a share of power. Perhaps it is because power is shared by all categories that it can be said that all take turns to rule.<br />Polity is quot; a fusion of oligarchy and democracyquot; [1293 b34], in an attempt to quot; unite the freedom of the poor and the wealth of the richquot; [1294 a17]. The fusion or mixture is made by including in the constitution some features generally associated with democracy, such as an assembly open to all citizens, with other features generally associated with oligarchy, such as election to high office (wealth is an advantage in electoral contests).<br />The mixture can be more democratic or more oligarchical; polities with more oligarchical features are sometimes called quot; aristocraciesquot; , because they favour wealth, and good family and education tend to go with wealth [1293 b36, 1294 a19-25].<br />Read IV.9.<br />Note that election is an oligarchical practice; democracies choose office bearers by lot, on the assumption that all are competent enough.<br />Read IV.11, IV.12<br />So a quot; polityquot; , a fusion of democracy and oligarchy, requires a balance of social classes, of rich and poor; a strong middle class holds the balance. (For the influence of these ideas on J.S. Mill and other liberal writers of the 19th century, see “Liberal Democracy”, “Influence of Aristotle’s Polity”.)<br />Book V: REVOLUTIONS<br />Book V is about revolution. Revolutions often arise out of equality and inequality and ideas of justice. Democracy is based on the idea that those who are equally free should be absolutely equal, oligarchy on the idea that those unequal in property should be unequal politically [1301 a28-35; cf. 1280 a9-25, 1283 a25-8]. (Aristotle himself thinks that justice requires that equals be treated equally, unequals unequally, the treatment being proportioned to some relevant respect in which people are equal or unequal; (see Nicomachean Ethics, [V.3] and Politics [III.12]; cf. Plato, Laws, [757]). The chief cause of the feelings that lead to revolution is a desire for equality, when men think they are equal to others who have more, or for inequality, when they think they are superior [1302 a23-7]. There are other causes of revolution -- insolence of magistrates, honour and dishonour, fear, disproportionate increase in some part of a state, election intrigues, difference of race, etc. Aristotle gives various instances, drawn presumably from his school's researches into constitutional history [V.3, 4]. (Members of the Lyceum wrote studies of the constitutional history of 158 regimes. Only fragments have survived. The Constitution of Athens, attributed to Aristotle himself, was lost for centuries but was rediscovered in 1891. These 158 constitutional histories may have provided the historical illustrations found in many parts of the Politics, especially in the extracts following.)<br />Read the extracts from book V (chapters 5, 6, 8, 9, 11).<br />In [1316 a1-] Aristotle criticises Plato's account of revolutions (Republic, [544-]).<br />Book VI: MORE ABOUT DEMOCRACY AND OLIGARCHY<br />Book VI goes over some of the same topics as Book IV in a clearer and more economical way. (As I remarked earlier, the presence in Aristotle's works of parallel treatments of the same matters is one reason for suspecting that they were edited by someone other than Aristotle -- assuming that the author himself would have consolidated or discarded more ruthlessly.) We will read a few extracts.<br />Read VI.2<br />There follows a discussion of kinds of democracy (cf. IV.6). It is best when the high offices are elected, and the democratic assembly can call the office holders to account. quot; The principle of responsibility secures that which is the greatest good in states; the right persons rule and are prevented from doing wrong, and the people have their duequot; [1319 a1-5]. Compare J.S. Mill on the idea of a rational democracy, Readings, vol. 2, p. 366.<br />Preserving democracy and oligarchy<br />Read VI.5<br />Compare this with V.9, Readings, p. 112. His idea is that a regime will last better if it includes features of the opposite kind of constitution and conciliates people who might otherwise hanker after the opposite kind of constitution. This is one of the strengths of quot; polityquot; : it combines democracy and oligarchy.<br />Read VI.7<br />This is about the preservation of oligarchies. It shows Aristotle's appreciation of the role of force in politics. quot; It is an impossible thing that those who are able to use or to resist force should be willing to remain always in subjection... those who carry arms can always determine the fate of the constitutionquot; [1329 a8-12]. [Compare 1268 a18-26, 1279 b1-3, 1297 b1, 1304 a20-40, 1306 a20-30]. A stable constitution gives power to those who would otherwise take it. In Aristotle's preferred constitution, polity, the citizens are those who possess arms. Compare Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 33, and Thucydides VIII.97.<br />Retrospect over books III-VI<br />Book VI ends discussion of the kinds of constitutions that began at III.7. Plato's sixfold classification has been left well behind. Talk of rule by one, few or many is gross over-simplification. quot; Rulequot; is something complex, done by means of many organs, control over which may be allocated in various ways to various sections of the population. Talk of quot; goodquot; or quot; badquot; rule is also over-simple: there are degrees of goodness, which depend on the way in which control has been allocated. Any of the forms may be good or bad in one of its varieties or under some circumstances. Plato's account of the transition from one form to another is also oversimple. Tyranny can develop out of either democracy or oligarchy, if either is carried to an extreme.<br />In Aristotle's view the significant dividing line in politics is between rich and poor. The best practicable constitution will be one in which the interests of these two groups are balanced in a fusion of democracy and oligarchy; it is best because it is just and stable. How the balance is best achieved depends on circumstances. The balanced constitution may be called aristocracy or, if it is more democratic, quot; polityquot; .<br />The notion of polity, or the constition consisting in a combination of oligarchical and democratic elements, is one of Aristotle's most influential contributions to political thought. It is a likely source of Mill's idea of representative government, which is substantially what we have and call democracy. quot; There is a true union of oligarchy and democracy when the same state may be termed either a democracy or an oligarchyquot; (1294 b15).<br />Aristotle was not the only advocate in ancient times of a mixed or balanced constition. See Plato, Laws, 691c-701e, and Thucydides VIII.97. Another was Polybios; see K. von Fritz, The Theory of the Mixed Constitution in Antiquity. Polybios wrote in Greek a history of Rome, in which he argued that the virtue of the Roman republican constitution was that it combined monarchy (the consuls), aristocracy (the Senate) and democracy (in plebiscites and certain other functions). Aristotle's mixed constitution does not include monarchy, and he is interested in mixing democratic and oligarchic institutions because he wants to distribute power between rich and poor, which was not in Polybios' mind. Polybios' version of the mixed constitution came down through Cicero and other ancient writers to medieval and modern times (Montesquieu; Blackstone). Its most notable monument is the American constitution, where the relations between President, Senate and Congress fit the Polybian scheme. Mill's idea of balancing classes in a representative government is close to Aristotle, not Polybios.<br />Books VII and VIII: THE IDEAL CITY<br />Book VII is the counterpart in Aristotle's work to Plato's Republic, a description of what it would be best to do if we had to found a new state.<br />In inquiry about the best form of state it is necessary to decide first which is the most eligible (choice-worthy, preferable) life for individuals. Aristotle summarises parts of his quot; discussions outside the schoolquot; (dialogues, presumably, now lost) quot; concerning the best lifequot; . A happy man must have external goods, goods of the body (e.g. health), and goods of the soul (virtue). quot; Some think that a very moderate amount of virtue is enough, but set no limit to their desires of wealth, property, power, reputation and the likequot; [1323 a35-40] -- i.e. of external goods. But experience shows that quot; happiness... is more often found with those who are most highly cultivated in their mind and in their character, and have only a moderate share of external goods, than among those who possess external goods to a useless extent but are deficient in higher qualitiesquot; [1323 b1-5]. quot; Let us acknowledge then that each one has just so much of happiness as he has of virtue and wisdom, and of virtuous and wise actionquot; [1323 b22-3]. quot; The best life, both for individuals and states, is the life of virtue, when virtue has external goods enough for the performance of good actionsquot; [1323 b40-]. (Compare N.E., book I, chs. 5, 7 and 8 (some extracts in Readings, pp 97-8); cf. Politics [VII.13]).<br />quot; Now it is evident that the form of government is best in which every man, whoever he is, can act best and live happilyquot; [1324 a23-5]. It is irrational to design a city for military power, to rule tyrannically over its neighbours [1324 b1-; cf. 1333 a35-1334 a10]. (Compare Plato, Laws, 625-.) quot; Warlike pursuits... are not the supreme end of all things, but only means. And the good lawgiver should inquire how states and races of men and communities may participate in a good life, and in the happiness which is attainable by themquot; [1325 a5-10]. The happy life is one of virtuous activity.<br />quot; Activityquot; is not to be construed too narrowly: thinking is activity. quot; Not that a life of action must necessarily have relation to others, as some persons think, nor are those ideas only to be regarded as practical which are pursued for the sake of practical results, but much more the thoughts and contemplations which are independent and complete in themselvesquot; , i.e. philosophy and science -- see E.N., book X, chs. 7 and 8. quot; Virtuous activity, and therefore a certain kind of action, is an end, and even in the case of external actions the directing mind is most truly said to actquot; [1325 b17-23].<br />The good state will therefore be one which makes it possible for its citizens to engage in intelligent and virtuous activity, including scientific and philosophical thinking. For some of this activity leisure is needed; see VII.15. Aristotle probably assumes that citizens will be active in the dramatic performances, gymnasia, games and religious functions customary in Athens. Compare Plato, Laws, 803-4.)<br />Details of the ideal city<br />Aristotle then goes on (chs. 4-8) to discuss the appropriate population, site, etc. for the ideal city. He comes then to the allocation of functions to various sections of the population. quot; The citizens must not live the life of mechanics [artisans] or tradesmen, for such a life is ignoble and inimical to virtuequot; [1328 b40]. Since quot; those who carry arms can always determine the fate of the constitutionquot; [1329 a12] the deliberative assembly should consist of the warriors, or older men of the warrior class. This quot; is just, and is founded upon a principle of conformity to merit. Besides, the ruling class should be the owners of property, for they are citizens, and the citizens of a state should be in good circumstances; whereas mechanics or any other class which is not a producer of virtue have no share in the state... The husbandmen will of necessity be slaves or barbarian Perioeciquot; [1329 a16-26; cf. 1330 a25-35.] (Perioeci are resident non-citizens.) quot; It is expedient that liberty should be always held out to them as the reward of their servicesquot; [1330 a34]. Thus citizens live the life of virtuous activity, and farmers and artisans, who cannot live such a life, are excluded from citizenship.<br />Chapters 13-15 look like another version of the first chapters of the book. They are followed by a discussion of marriage, upbringing of children and education, which continues to the end of book VIII, the end of The Politics.<br />