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Lecture

Making Sense of politics, Aristotelian style


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL200Y1
Professor
Rebecca Kingston

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Making Sense of politics, Aristotelian style
I. Introduction
last week, looking at aristotles analysis of the household, his discussion of the polis. show
the distinctive nature of political relationships.
-practical side of aristotle. despite high ideals and goals that are there, tries to make
concessions to reality and mundane features of community.
-definition of the polis. 1st feature, polis will contain diversity of people and associations
brought together in beginning to meet basic needs. 2nd feature of polis , politics
aims at ultimate good though of course in practice may not get there. 3rd feature,
not only are states different in so far they meet highest goals , but states
themselves give themselves goals and identities that differ. some states define
excellence or goals in term of military virtue. 4th aspect is that political relation
is specific because of its qualities of equality/ reciprocity and taking turns at
taking power. political relations are only one quality of a good life. some
participation in government important to meet highest nature of virtue.
theoretical wisdom higher form of happiness and cant be a political thing.
-most politics does not take place in best circumstance, aristotle doesnt despair unlike plat.
how can we achieve limited goods that politics can give us, aristotle much more
of an optimist than plato.
II. Constitutions and Citizenship.
-aristotle has intriguing and interesting way of leading us along in a series of questions
about politics. what is a political community (not mili alliance).. should be
attempt to live together in friendship. goodwill and positivity in people of same
community as they are there together involved in project that will make lives
better. what is identity of regime? various ways to think about this. regime
change... conclusion that you cant define regime by people but by constitution.
constitution not written document but ways in which power is distributed. this
idea of distribution of society is also about types of principles or values that
underly or justify division and distribution of power. suggests const is
organization of regime,whts gonna be end body and end goal of body. different
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communities hold certain values as more important than others. this applys to who
can or cannot hold power. book 7 section 1 different men seek different happiness
in dif ways so seek out different government. in practice states articulate ams in
different ways, in written or unwritten ways. look at dominant principles in
political notions and how they manifest in terms of political power.
-Monarchies of old Europe. Power conferred by status/honor and determines influence in
community. closer you were to royal family the more influence you had. economy
of power based on status and honor
-Piety. regime of current afghan republic. president has to be muslim. shari law integrated
into public law. piety as defining feature of good.
-United States. arguably economic prosperous and freedom. those economically prosperous
more respected and have greater power. rule of money. is us more of an
oligarchy? Distinguish it by whether wealthy exclude the poor from office. not
always the case in US. Haven’t fully left out poor and their reps from office. still
let poor have a say.
-what makes for a citizen? notion of citizenship has to have moral push to it. what is
important about is is not what gives you right but what it is you do when you are a
citizen. citizenship defined by action. deliberative or judicial administration.
-controversial of what definition entails and what it leaves out. woman and children can not
justifiably be included in definition. blue collar workers not eligible either for
citizenship. people living under hard physical conditions thus dont have time or
energy or inclination to reflect on matters of policy for importance to political
community. conservative play?
-distinction between good man and good citizen. how far should they be distinguished? ply
into question of relationship between politics and good life. so he suggests that
good man is good because of one single virtue, which is perfect virtue. can
measure goodness of individual in terms of one virtue, found in nichomechaen
ethics. citizen something different because what they do is relative to community
in which they are active. place in community matters as well. virtue of citizen has
to considered in relation to constitution. citizen of good aristocracy will qualities
xyz different for citizens of a good democracy because expectations different.even
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