Aristotle's Politics (Lessons)

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Slides on lessons from Aristotle's Politics for an undergraduate course in Political Thought that I taught between 2003-2005.

Text of Aristotle's Politics (Lessons)


2. Overview

  • Plato v. Aristotle
  • Forms of Rule
  • Parts of a State
  • Practical Lessons in Politics and Democracy

3. A Comparison: Plato and Aristotle

  • Platowas fundamentally anidealist
    • i.e. the ideal state
  • Aristotlewas morerealistic
    • there are no ideal states, only existing ones

4. A Comparison: Plato and Aristotle

  • Aristotles concern was to understandhow states are constituted
    • What makes a state tick?
  • Assumed thatall stateswere ordered towards aspecific end
    • Goodv.BadStates

5. Governments:Aristotelian Typology Democracy Polity Many Oligarchy Aristocracy Few Tyranny Monarchy One Perverted Ideal Number of Rulers 6. The Aristotelian Typology Applied Today Democracy Many Oligarchy Aristocracy Few Tyranny Monarchy One Perverted Ideal Number of Rulers Mob Rule 7. Parts of a State

  • Citizenship
  • Sovereignty
  • Justice
  • Law
  • Branches of Government

8. Citizenship

  • Notderived fromage ,birth territory , or system ofgovernment
  • Rooted in a personsparticipation in civic affairs
  • Entails the privilege ofholding office

9. Sovereignty

  • The statessupreme powerto obligeobedience to its will
  • Aristotle uses the term to denote theholding of public office
  • He also uses the term to refer towhogets to makebinding public decisions

10. Justice

  • Thegoodtowards whichpoliticsis directed
  • Consists of some sort of equality ( relative equality )
  • Related to everything that tends to promote thecommon good

11. Law

  • Reason free from all passion
  • A neutral authority
  • Dynamicconcept; includes custom and codified (written) law
  • Aristotle distinguishes between theletterandspiritof the law

12. Branches of Government

  • Deliberative
  • Executive
  • Judicial

13. Practical Lessons

  • There is virtue indecisionsbeing made bycollective bodies
  • It is important forindividualsto havesome share in civic affairs

14. More Practical Lessons

  • It is important todistinguishbetweenindividualsandinstitutions/offices
  • Thelawis bothsubstantiveandorganic

15. Even More Practical Lessons

  • The forms ofgovernmentmostlikely to workare those where themiddle class is large