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Aristotle's 'Politics': A Reader's Guide (Reader's Guides) by Judith A. Swanson

By Judith A. Swanson

Within the Politics, Aristotle units out to find what's the most sensible shape that the kingdom can take. just like his mentor Plato, Aristotle considers the shape that might produce justice and domesticate the top human strength; in spite of the fact that Aristotle takes a extra empirical strategy, studying the structure of present states and drawing on particular case-studies. In doing so he lays the principles of contemporary political technology.

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Aristotle never mentions Plato’s name, however, thereby avoiding questions that still endure about what Plato himself thought, and whether he speaks through Socrates. Evidently Aristotle does not want to discuss intricacies of the dialogues but wants rather to consider the basic features of the hypothetical regimes described therein. Hence questions concerning what Plato meant should not distract a reader of Aristotle’s commentary; the issue at hand is not whether Aristotle interprets Plato correctly.

Similarly, the respect in which a regime treats women bears on its happiness. Spartan women live luxuriously and licentiously and dominate the regime while the men are away at war. Although the unfortunate results are not attributable to design and thus blameworthy, the mishandled circumstances manifest an inconsistency or contradiction in the regime: military discipline clashing with wanton rulers. Moreover, inheritances and dowries have given women much landed property that could otherwise be used to sustain cavalry, thereby weakening the city’s defence capabilities.

Aristotle makes that clear in chapter 6, where he lays out three positions, two of which defend the practice of slavery and the third opposes it. One defence of slavery holds that spoils of war, including human captives, legally belong to the victors. Opponents of that convention argue that neither superior force nor anything else can justify enslavement, because justice consists in mutual kindness. Aristotle points out truth in both views: might per se does not equal right but might backed by virtue, exerted over inferiors, does.

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