POL200Y5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Polis

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23 Nov 2016
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POL200 Lecture 10 Aristotle; Politics IV, VII, VIII
The Ideal Polis
A polity is an ideal is a miture of oligarch & democrac.
o A mixture of two unnatural poleis
o However each one has a kind of claim to make of why they
should rule wealth is an important aspect; it contributes to the
benefit of the Polis.
However, they exclude all others without wealth
o Also, democracy claims being born free is an important aspect
however they exclude those with wealth
o Each claim to rule excludes the other
Democrats who are equal think they are equal in all things
Not only does democracy/oligarchy fall short of justice, they are also
unstable.
o There is always a conflict between rich and poor.
Aristotle says if we combine certain aspects of democracy and
oligarchy then the Polity becomes stable
o The Polity is a practical polis.
o The Polity aims towards stability
Aristotle says there are two ways of combining
o The constitution mixture; fine the rich for not showing up and
pay the poor for showing up.
Where the constitution itself favors both democratic and
oligarchic principles the end result is STABILITY
o The sociological mixture
Aristotle says the polity conforms to an idea called a MEAN.
The Polity is an ideal but it is not the one to hope for. It is a political
way of life which most people can share it is practical; it rests on the
ethical doctrine called the mean.
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2
The doctrine of the mean is that virtue is the balance between the
extremes.
In any action, there are two extremes of human emotions
o First is excess of emotion
o Second is the deficiency of emotion
For example, in the action of giving money we can have an excess
o There can also be a deficiency of emotion, we call stinginess
The mean between the two acts is called generosity the choice made
is alays relatie to one’s self
o Choice is made through practical wisdom and common sense
The mean is not easily attainable living a generous, virtuous life is
not easy. Actions are performed relative to oneself
o What might be courageous for one person may be reckless for
another
Where the middle class dominates is the socio-economic characteristic
o The middle element is defined by Aristotle by the amount of
property those in the middle are the mean between 2
extremes
o They are either an excess or deficiency neither too rich or poor
Polity can be defined as a more sociological moderate wealth
creates a sociological characteristic especially in terms of reason
o The middle element is more rational, they live a moderate life
Aristotle also says the rich people are concerned only about
themselves, they receive such emotions as children
The definition of political rule is to rule and be ruled
The rich however, are unaccustomed to being ruled
The poor also are unaccustomed to being the ruler
Those in the middle do not desire the property of the rich like the poor
do, and other people do not desire their property
o Rule of the middle element would create stability
It would be better if the middle class was the largest in size it would
become a practical ideal city-state
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