Political Philosophy 2183B
Aristotle 2 – Politics, the good life, deliberation
January 29, 2013
1. competitive struggle for honour and office is a chief motor of political life and
therefore of a citizen (compare to Plato)
1.1. Winning glory, honour, and being in on rulership – standard goods that people strive
1.2 . Book 3. ch 6. 1278b10: A politeia (constitution) is the order of a polis, and of
rulerships or magistracies, and in particular of the top or supreme office.
Thus politeia is distribution of power, offices, and honours
Politeia offers particular distribution of most important goods, so this distribution
determines if state is just or not.
2. So what is correct principle of distr justice for power, offices, and honours?
Answer will yield right constitution – just state
But implies prior question:
A.: life, and good life
3. Plurality of goods, and both life and good life. Hence, single-criterion rule is wrong
1280-81 – oligarchy can’t be good politeia
4. Overview of the Politics
5. Bk. 1: Nature of polis, or political koinonia
Every koinonia aims at some good (begins like NE)
5.1 natural process
5.2 autarché – part of its telos Bk. I.1.1252a1-7
5.3 koinonia of koinoniae
6. man’s political nature – zoon politikon Bk. I,1253q1
1 7. Deliberation
Phronesis is the capacity to discriminate good and bad, and deliberation in common is central to
being able to be phronomos.
Contrast Plato – only rulers deliberate, and not even
8. 1280b35 The state is a koinonia of the good life; it exists for the sake of a complete and self-
sufficient life. It doesn’t exist just for life itself. It begins with philia, friendship, but it doesn’t end
there, it exists living in happiness (eudaimonia) and kallos (noble, beautiful, good).
Goods of life –
Bk. 2 Critique of Plato – women, love, property, unity
9. supremacy of law (contrast Plato) Bk 3
1287a To make law rule is to rule by reason or God; to add man is to add an element of the
10. Aristotle wants to preserve the range of human desires, goods, and goals in the
- family life, which Plato discards for the rulers
- honour (not dirty word for A. as it is for Plato and later Hobbes).
Key: agon has to be aligned with reason.
Full human perfection involves non-tyrannical constant deliberation and deciding how to
act. Some can’t make it and have to remain under tutelage (women, naturally born
slaves). But the phronomos cannot live under tyranny, and must constantly deliberate
11.2 A. and Plato: