Aristoteles Libro I Papera

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  • 8/15/2019 Aristoteles Libro I Papera



    The Argument of Aristotle's "Politics" 1

    Author(s): Marguerite Deslauriers Source: Phoenix , Vol. 60, No. 1/2 (Spring - Summer, 2006), pp. 48-69 Published by: Classical Association of Canada Stable URL: Accessed: 13-04-2016 12:14 UTC


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  • 8/15/2019 Aristoteles Libro I Papera



     Marguerite Deslauriers

     i introduction

     ?ince the nineteenth century, many commentators have understood

     Book 1 of Aristode's Politics as an argument to the conclusion that the polis is

     natural.1 Aristode does make claims about the naturalness of certain relations

     between people, and the naturalness of political community as such. But I take

     Aristode's primary concern in Book 1 to be to establish that there are different

     kinds of rule because there are different kinds of people.2 That political comm unity

     I am grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for a grant which helped to

     support this work.

     1 See Newman 1887, commenting that the subject of Book 1 is olicovouia and ?eanotE?a (citing

     3.6 1278bl7). But he seems to believe that the point of the discussion of the household and slavery

     is to establish that the household (and hence the polis) is natural: "A modern work would not first

     prove that the household exists- by nature, and then inquire whether it ought to exist. Yet this is

     what Aristode does in the First and Second Books of the Politics" (xxix). For more recent works,

     see Mulgan 1977 and Miller 1995 (esp. chapters 1-2). Miller writes MOf paramount importance for

     Aristode's political theory are the doctrines defended in Politics 1.2, that human beings are by nature

     political animals and that the polis exists by nature" (15). This suggests that the primary point of

     chapters 1-2 of the Politics, at least, is a point about nature. Miller refines the point later, claiming

     that the apparent tension between Books 1 and 3 (because the polis is a natural growth in Book 1, and

     yet the criterion of identity for 2. polis in Book 3 is identity in constitution) dissolves if we understand

     the polis in Book 1 in the sense of a society (i.e., the total community) and the polis in Book 3 more

     narrowly as the state. So what is natural, on his view, is the polis as a community rather than as a state.

     Mulgan sees (as most commentators do) two parts to Book 1: chapters 1-2 and chapters 3-13. He

     seems to believe that the point of the first part is to prove that the polis is natural (18): "After a brief

     introduction, Aristode sets out to prove that the polis is natural or exists by nature." But he mentions

     that Aristode also formulates the doctrine that the polis is a compounded whole (28). And he claims

     that "The nature of these qualitative differences [between the different types of rule] is one of the

     subsidiary themes of Book One and serves to connect the lengthy examination of the household with

     the general theory of the polis" (36). I take it that Mulgan means to say that the primary theme of

     Book One is that the polis is natural, and that the discussion of differences in types of rule is subsidiary

     to that theme.

     2 In making this argument I am following Malcolm Schofield (1990: 16-17), who writes, "it is

     tempting to suppose that Aristode's main object in Book A is to establish that the polis is a natural

     community, ... and that the need to show that the household is a natural community is what leads

     him to present at some length a vigorous case for the naturalness of one of its two fundamental

     component relationships?slavery_But although Aristode does not always make the strategy and

     organization of the argument of Book A as explicit as he might have done, it seems probable that his

     main preoccupation is not the naturalness of the polis and its constitutent associations?which is a

     topic barely mentioned in subsequent parts of the treatise. The issue which appears to dominate his

     mind right through the book is the question: how many forms of rule (?pxt|) are there? And the urge

     to reply 'not just one but several' is the mainspring of the argument." In a note Schofield adds that

     his argument has "much in common" with Natali 1979-80; he also refers us to Kelsen 1977:172-175.


     PHOENIX, VOL. 60 (2006) 1-2.

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  • 8/15/2019 Aristoteles Libro I Papera


  • 8/15/2019 Aristoteles Libro I Papera




     political society is composed of households (as Aristotle says at 1253b2-3); and

     an account of household governance requires accounts of the household relations.

     The view is correct but unsatisfying insofar as the explanation is incomplete:

     why is an account of the elements of a composite necessary to an account of the

     composite? The answer lies in Aristotle's understanding of the relation of the parts

     of the polis (households) to the polis: because households are for the sake of the

     polis, the polis determines what the household is like, just as, say, the essence of an

     animal determines what the parts of the animal will be like, because those parts are

     for the sake of the animal as a whole.6 The parts therefore reveal to us something

     of the whole, precisely because they are determined by the nature of the whole.

     And the relation between household and polis is unlike the relation between

     animal and animal part, insofar as Aristotle seems to believe that households

     are more readily knowable than the polis in its best form, and so households

     can inform us about the essence of the wel l-form ed pol i s .7 In other w ords, we

     inquire into the elements of a political community not just to confirm that the

     polis is indeed constituted out of households and that households are constituted

     by certain relations of rule, but because this investigation will tell us something

     about the polis. What it tells us, I argue, is that there is a variety of kinds of

     person, and also a variety of forms of rule, that can be manifested (although not

     all should be manifested) at the level of political society. Aristotle says as much at

     1.11252al6-22, introducing the analysis of the polis into (ultimately) households:

     xauxa ?b?K eaxiv a^nOi]. ?tiXov 8' ?axai to Xeyouevov 67uaK07roGai Kax? xrjv o^ny

     T|uivr|v uiGo?ov. cocraep y?p ?v xo?? aAAo?? x? a?vGexov uixpi xcov ?auvO?xc?v ?vayicri

     ?taipe?v (xauxa y?p ?Xctxvcrxa fi?pia xou Ttavxo?), ouxco ko? ttoXiv ?? &v a?yiceiTca

     cFK07touvx8? ?\|/oue6a icat Ttep? xo?xcov uaMov, xi xe ?ia^?pouaiv ?XXr\X

  • 8/15/2019 Aristoteles Libro I Papera




     But these claims are not true. What I am saying will be clear, if we examine the matter

     according to the method of investigation that has guided us elsewhere. For as in other

     cases, a composite has to be analyzed until we reach things that are incomposite, since

     these are the smallest parts of the whole, so if we also examine the parts that make up a

     city-state, we shall see better both how these differ from each other, and whether or not it

     is possible to gain some expertise in connection with each of the things we have mentioned

     (tr. Reeve 1998).8

     The point of the discussion of 1-2 is often misconstrued as a point about

     nature, and as a result the relation of the discussion of 1-2 to that of 3-13 is

     misunderstood. The point of 1-2 is that it is a mistake to think that ruling is

     simply a question of science and that it is a related mistake to think that there

     is only one k ind of rule .9 The eviden ce for this is the developm ent of chapters

     3-13, and the way in which Aristode introduces and summarizes the discussion

     of slavery and other household relations. I shall first summarize the structure of

     the discussion in chapters 3-13, and then turn to a more detailed examination of

     the working out of the two controversies introduced in 1.3 below in section iv.

     In 1.3 Aristode distinguishes the three household relations and allows that some

     people believe that there is a fourth part of the household (wealth acquisition). He