Galicius's Reviews > Politics

Politics by Aristotle
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Dec 31, 10

bookshelves: greek, list-for-people-desiring-higher-edu, philosophy, political-science
Read in April, 2010 — I own a copy

Book I

Communities and states are established to bring the greatest good to its members. Qualifications of a king and master or householder are not the same as some (Plato) think. It’s not just the number of subjects they have to deal with. A statesman is also different and he rules when citizens set up a government and rule by political science. But there are different kinds of rule.

Aristotle goes no to consider the relationship between master and slave, absolute and relative meaning of the terms. He questions whether slavery is indeed natural and compares warfare to hunting of wild animals. He points out that the Greeks consider themselves free men everywhere but don’t consider barbarians the same way. Barbarians are only free in their own land.

He begins consideration of property and wealth getting both that which is necessary like obtaining food and managing household and the unnecessary type like unlimited gathering of coin or other property. Men confuse their goal of living well which has a limit of how much wealth it requires with that by which they become absorbed with acquiring wealth and property and loose sight of their original aim. Their desire becomes unlimited and unnecessary.

There is a natural way of gathering wealth from fruits and animals or land or sea. The other way or retail trade is not natural. The “most hated sort” is usury which makes money out of money itself—“of all modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural”.

Theorizing about wealth getting may be worthy of philosophy but in practice such discussion may be irksome.

There are three occupations in wealth getting: husbandry and farming; exchange, commerce, usury; mining.

Aristotle gives two examples of financial speculation where one man created a monopoly of wine presses, and another a monopoly in iron.

A husband and father rules over his wife and children, and as master over his slaves. “For although there may be exceptions to the order of nature the male is fitter to command than the female, just as the elder…to the younger and more immature.

Aristotle raises the question whether there is any excellence and virtue in a slaves and women. If they “share in rational principle” it’s absurd to think they have one and should be ruled instead of ruling also.

The ruler too can be unjust, cowardly and will not rule well. Both the ruler and subject have virtue but varying. Socrates said, “the temperance of a man and of a woman…are not the same…or the courage and justice”. All classes have their “special attributes”. He quotes Sophocles from Ajax: “Silence is a woman’s glory”. Masters should be a “source…of excellence” to the slave and not employ command only.

The virtues of a family are supposed to make a difference in the virtue of the state. Aristotle will “examine the various theories of the perfect state” next.



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