Politics by Aristotle

Politics by Aristotle

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Overview

Aristotle's life was primarily that of a scholar. However, like the other ancient philosophers, it was not the stereotypical ivory tower existence. His father was court physician to Amyntas III of Macedon, so Aristotle grew up in a royal household. Aristotle also knew Philip of Macedon (son of Amyntas III) and there is a tradition that says Aristotle tutored Philip's son Alexander, who would later be called "the Great" after expanding the Macedonian Empire all the way to what is now India. Clearly, Aristotle had significant firsthand experience with politics, though scholars disagree about how much influence, if any, this experience had on Aristotle's thought. There is certainly no evidence that Alexander's subsequent career was much influenced by Aristotle's teaching, which is uniformly critical of war and conquest as goals for human beings and which praises the intellectual, contemplative lifestyle. It is noteworthy that although Aristotle praises the politically active life, he spent most of his own life in Athens, where he was not a citizen and would not have been allowed to participate directly in politics.
Aristotle studied under Plato at Plato's Academy in Athens, and eventually opened a school of his own (the Lyceum) there. As a scholar, Aristotle had a wide range of interests. He wrote about meteorology, biology, physics, poetry, logic, rhetoric, and politics and ethics, among other subjects. His writings on many of these interests remained definitive for almost two millennia. They remained, and remain, so valuable in part because of the comprehensiveness of his efforts. For example, in order to understand political phenomena, he had his students collect information on the political organization and history of 158 different cities. The Politics makes frequent reference to political events and institutions from many of these cities, drawing on his students' research. Aristotle's theories about the best ethical and political life are drawn from substantial amounts of empirical research. (The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781618950673
Publisher: Bibliotech Press
Publication date: 02/18/2012
Pages: 188
Sales rank: 487,986
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)

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Politics by Aristotle 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
P_S_Patrick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Aristotle's Politics discusses the different ways to manage a state, arguing in favour of those he considers best. Politics is not a complete work: some chapters end abruptly and discussions promised to be included are missing. Aristotle being a student of Plato shares much of his thought, though differs in places and criticises some aspects of The Republic.What The Politics does have in common with The Republic is the bias towards an aristocratic form of government, and a dislike of democracy, not aristocracy as it exists today, but in the ancient Greek sense of the word ¿ the people with the most intellectual and moral merit being singled out and put in charge of the state, with those below them being ruled over for their own good. This system is quite different from the modern Western political system, in that the government would not be voted in, and the average person with no expertise in politics would have little influence on political goings on, which makes sense to me. However, Aristotle notes the danger of such a system, in that if it goes wrong there is the risk of it becoming much worse than the democratic system when it goes wrong, as power is held in the hands of the few; even though when at its best it is a more efficient system than democracy at its best. Plato and Aristotle both split their state up into several classes, each have the lowest class being the agricultural, manual labour, shopkeepers and craftspeople, the next layer up being the military and police, and the highest layer being the guardians or government, the intellectuals and philosophers. Aristotle differs in his assignment of these roles from Plato, and I think he makes a mistake. Plato has the cleverest people occupying the top tier and being educated the most, and so on, while Aristotle has the least able in the lowest class, and the rest in the military class between the ages of 21 and 50 (after a general education is complete), and then has them move to the higher positions when they reach an age not suited to intense physical exertion. This denies the specialisation of the individual and the state which Plato favours, and I think is less ideal, but Aristotle opposes Plato's views more reasonably on the matter of family unity, that wives and children should not be held in common, and that the family is best in the traditional form. Aristotle also denies land ownership to those in the lowest class, which Plato does not, and I don't think this would work, both limit the amount of land allowed to each citizen though, with those having the most land only being allowed to posses for example five times more than those with the lowest, in order to reduce poverty.Overall I don't like The Politics as much as The Republic, partly because it does not feel like a complete work, both in content and vision, but it is worth reading for the bits it adds that The Republic gets wrong. Both books would be disagreeable to the modern leftist, they oppose liberty for the sake of liberty, for the reason that the uneducated do not know what they want; their notion of equality is ¿proportionate equality¿ - equality for equals, not equality for everyone, and their state is controlling and elitist. Nevertheless, despite the fact that such systems as advocated would meet disapproval today, I don't think they are bad systems per se, and if a combination of the system suggested here, and that suggested in the Republic were to used, it could theoretically operate as well as a democratic system, the problem being in the practicalities more than in the theory. But, as both say, when a democracy goes wrong, it never goes as wrong as the other types of system. When a monarchy goes wrong it turns into a tyranny, and when an aristocracy goes wrong it turns into an oligarchy, and more people end up suffering than when a democracy goes wrong. Democracy is the safe option, Aristotle thinks, but it does not have the potential for perfection that the state controlled solely by the