The Politics is one of the most influential texts in the history of political thought, and it raises issues which still confront anyone who wants to think seriously about the ways in which human societies are organized and governed. By examining the way societies are run--from households to city states--Aristotle establishes how successful constitutions can best be initiated and upheld.
For this edition, Sir Ernest Barker's fine translation, which has been widely used for nearly half a century, has been extensively revised to meet the needs of the modern reader. The accessible introduction and clear notes examine the historical and philosophical background of the work and discuss its significance for modern political thought.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
About the Author
Trevor J. Saunders has translated many volumes of Plato for the Penguin Classics.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1. <1252a> Since we see that every city is some kind of association, and every association is organized for the sake of some good (since everything everyone does is for the sake of something seeming to be good), it is clear that all associations aim at something good, and that the one that is most sovereign and encompasses all the others aims at the most sovereign of all goods. And this is the one called the city, the political association.
Now those who assume that the same person is skilled at political rule as at kingship, household management, and mastery of slaves do not speak beautifully. (For they regard each of these <10> as differentiated with respect to manyness or fewness but not in form—a master being over few, a household manager over more, and a political ruler or a king over still more, as if a large household were no different from a small city; as for the political ruler and the king, when one has control himself, they regard him as a king, but as a political ruler when he rules and is ruled by turns in accordance with the propositions of this sort of knowledge. These things, though, are not true.) What is being said will be clear to those who investigate it along the usual path, for just as it is necessary in other cases to divide a compound thing up into uncompounded ones (since these are <20> the smallest parts of the whole), so too with a city, it is by examining what it is composed of that we shall also see more about these rulers, both in what respect they differ from one another and whether it is possible to get hold of anything involving art applicable to each of the things mentioned.
Table of ContentsThe PoliticsTranslator's Introduction by T. A. Sinclair
Aristotle's Life and Works
Aristotle's Politics in the Past
Aristotle's Politics Today
Notes by the ReviserReviser's Introduction, by T. J. Saunders
A Modern Report on the Politics
Teaching and Research in the Lyceum
The Contents and Structure of the Politics
Aristotle's Philosophical Assumption
Why Read the Politics?
The Revised Translation
Principles of Revision
Translation of Key Terms
Italicized Prefaces to Chapters
Table of Contents and Index of Names
AcknowledgmentsTHE POLITICSBook I
Preface to Book I
i. The State as an Association ii. The State Exists by Nature
The Two "Pairs"
Formation of the Household
Formation of the Village
Formation of the State
The State and the Individual iii. The Household and Its Slaves iv. The Slave as a Tool v. Slavery as Part of a Universal Natural Pattern vi. The Relation between Legal and Natural Slavery vii. The Nature of Rule over Slaves viii. The Natural Method of Acquiring Goods ix. Natural and Unnatural Methods of Acquiring Goods x. The Proper Limits of Household-Management; The Unnaturalness of Money-lending xi. Some Practical Considerations, Especially on the Creation of Monopoly xii. Brief Analysis of the Authority of Husband and Father xiii. Morality and Efficiency in the HouseholdBook II
i. Introduction to Ideal States: How Far Should Sharing Go?
ii. Extreme Unity in Plato's Republic
iii. Extreme Unity is Impracticable iv. Further Objections to Community of Wives and Children v. The Ownership of Property vi. Criticisms of Plato's Laws
vii. The Constitution of Phaleas viii. The Constitution of Hippodamus ix. Criticism of the Spartan Constitution
The Board of Elders
Some Common Meals
Some Further Criticisms x. Criticism of the Cretan Constitution xi. Criticism of the Carthaginian Constitution xii. Solon and Some Other LawgiversBook III
i. How Should We Define "Citizen"?
ii. A Pragmatic Definition of "Citizen"
iii. Continuity of Identity of the State iv. How Far Should the Good Man and the Good Citizen Be Distinguished?
v. Ought Workers to Be Citizens?
vi. Correct and Deviated Constitutions Distinguished vii. Classification of Correct and Deviated Constitutions viii. An Economic Classification of Constitutions ix. The Just Distribution of Political Power x. Justice and Sovereignty xi. The Wisdom of Collective Judgments xii. Justice and Equality xiii. The Sole Proper Claim to Political Power xiv. Five Types of Kingship xv. The Relation of Kingship and Law (1)
xvi. The Relation of Kingship and Law (2)
xvii. The Highest Form of Kingship xviii. The Education of the Ideal KingBook IV
i. The Tasks of Political Theory ii. Consitutions Placed in Order of Merit iii. Why There are Several Constitutions iv. The Parts of the State and the Classification of Democracies
Definitions of Democracy and Oligarchy
The Parts of the State, and Resulting Variety among Constitutions (1)
Plato on the Parts of the State
The Parts of the State, and Resulting Variety among Constitutions (2)
Varieties of Democracy v. The Classification of Oligarchies vi. Four Types of Democracy and Four of Oligarchy vii. Varieties of Aristocracy viii. Polity Distinguished from Aristocracy ix. Polity as a Mixture of Oligarchy and Democracy x. Three Forms of Tyranny xi. The Merits of the Middle Constitution xii. Why Democrats and Oligarchs Should Cultivate the Middle Ground xiii. Right and Wrong Strategems to Ensure a Majority for the Constitution xiv. The Deliberative Element in the Constitution xv. The Executive Element in the Constitution xvi. The Judicial Element in the ConstitutionBook V
i. Equality, Justice, and Constitutional Change ii. Sources of Constitutional Change (1)
iii. Sources of Constitutional Change (2)
iv. The Immediate Occasions of Constitutional Change v. Why Democracies Are Overthrown vi. Why Oligarchies Are Overthrown vii. The Causes of Factions in Aristocracies viii. How Constitutions May Be Preserved (1)
ix. How Constitutions May Be Preserved (2)
x. The Origins and Downfall of Monarchy xi. Methods of Preserving Monarchies, with Particular Reference to Tyranny xii. The Impermanence of Tyrannies; Plato on Constitutional ChangeBook VI
i. How Do Constitutions Function Best?
ii. Principles and Practices of Democracies iii. Ways of Achieving Equality iv. The Best Democracy v. How Democracies May be Preserved vi. The Preservation of Oligarchies (1)
vii. The Preservation of Oligarchies (2)
viii. A Comprehensive Review of OfficialdomBook VII
i. The Relation between Virtue and Prosperity ii. The Active Life and the Philosophic Life (1)
iii. The Active Life and the Philosophic Life (2)
iv. The Size of the Ideal State v. The Territory of the Ideal State vi. The Importance of the Sea vii. The Influence of Climate viii. Membership and Essential Functions of the State ix. Citizenship and Age-Groups x. The Food-Supply and the Division of the Territory xi. The Siting and Defence of the City xii. The Siting of Markets, Temples and Communal Refectories xiii. Happiness as the Aim of the Constitution xiv. Education for Citizenship xv. The Proper Education for Cultured Leisure xvi. Sex, Marriage and Eugenics xvii. The Main Periods of Education; CensorshipBook VIII
i. Education as a Public Concern ii. Controversy about the Aims of Education iii. Leisure Distinguished from Play; Education in Music (1)
iv. The Limits of Physical Training v. Education in Music (2)
vi. Gentlemen versus Players vii. Melodies and Modes in EducationSelect Bibliographies
Index of Names
Joe Sachs’s new translation of Aristotle’s Politics is for students of philosophy, classics, political philosophy, political science, and/or great books at the college level.