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Political Theory: Week 7 - October 27th, 2010
^Man is by nature a political animalX_ - Aristotle
- Man by nature is best suited to live in the polis, the identification of the type of political
community that was prevalent at the time of Aristotle`s writing
- Aristotle begins Politics with focus on why we need to think of political relationships as
qualitatively different from other types of social relationships that we have, for example in the
household and the village
- ``Every state is a community``
o Kononia can be translated in different ways
o Basic point is that we can`t think of states as institutions that stand over and above
society, have tendency to think of the state as a series of bureaucratic institutions, a
combination of offices and personnel and formal duties that stands over society
o The people are the state, state is not a bureaucratic institution, the state is a
partnership among those who are citizens, established ultimately for the purpose of
living well
o He suggests that we need to understand this partnership with several qualities:
๎‚ƒ 1. People from diverse interests and backgrounds coming together
๎‚ƒ 2. People coming together because of some interdependent relationship
๎‚ƒ 3. People share some common objectives and concerns
o Aristotle likens the citizenship relation as a form of friendship relation, the type of
friendship that you might have with your local butcher, people you interact with on an
everyday basis
๎‚ƒ A friendship based on utility, there for a common purpose, engaged in common
project, providing the best policies, trying to devise the best ways in which to
organise your community
o Need to have understanding of why human beings are sociable in the first place
๎‚ƒ Understanding assumption by Aristotle that human beings are individuals that
cannot be on their own totally self-sufficing, need to live with other people
๎‚ƒ Have material needs, social needs, cultural needs, ethical needs
o Way in which we can view elements of polis are institutions who help to meet needs but
in a limited ways
๎‚ƒ Household and village are formed with view to meet limited needs
Household:
- Book I, Section II
- One of main functions is to meet material needs that we all have as human beings, shelter,
clothing
- Book I, Section VIII
o Art of household management calls for limited acquisition
o Trade for profit was to be disregarded, morally wrong
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o Usury, lending people money for interest gathering, highly immoral
o Views about economics were picked up by the Catholic church and used to organize
European societies up until late Middle Ages
- Household needs a moral education to a certain degree in the exercise of parenting, in the
marital relationship, in the institution of slavery
- Three types of relationships in the household:
o 1. Master-slave
o 2. Husband-wife
o 3. Father-children
Master-slave:
- Two main arguments in defence of slavery:
o Acknowledges that some people in Athens didn`t agree with slavery
o 1. Argument by analogy, suggests that if we look at the universe, we see patterns of
hierarchy in the world, the soul rules over the body, within the soul intelligence rules
over desire, rulers rule over the ruled
๎‚ƒ Within human experience the fact that the soul does rule the body is a natural
relationship
๎‚ƒ Therefore, human beings should rule over slaves
o 2. Relying on outcomes of relationship, benefit in this relationship
๎‚ƒ For the ruler, the master, the slave relationship gives a clear material benefit
๎‚ƒ Not only does the slave allow for material accumulation in the household, the
slave does the work that frees up the time of the master to be able to deliberate
and be an active participant of the democratic process in Athens
๎‚ƒ Slave enhances material wealth and is the material condition for which the
master gains free time for which to focus on political questions
๎‚ƒ In the case of the slave, Aristotle suggests that because the slave does not
possess reason but recognises reason, he is able to get the proper direction or
type of moral education that they might not otherwise have being independent
x Slave has no deliberative faculty, slave can participate in limited virtues
x Defines slave by intellectual capacity, not necessarily by convention of
his day, can only justify slavery if the individual is a slave by nature
o Suggests that slavery by force, i.e. post war, is not a reason for slavery
๎‚ƒ Critic of right to enslave by victory of war
o Book I, Section VIII
๎‚ƒ Warfare is just when used by man to rule over those who do not submit to
political structures
๎‚ƒ On the one hand he suggests that enslaving individuals by force is wrong, but in
discussion of acquisition seems to suggest that those who should be governed
and are not governed are subject to force
x Not intending to talk about the subjugation of whole societies
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o Import of question of slavery is: requires on the side of the person who is judging a
person to slave the ability to look into the soul of others
๎‚ƒ Could be read as a rhetorical defence, a non-enforceable idea, a problematic
defence of slavery as requires that we read into the soul of others, difficult thing
to do
x Not an undermining of slavery but suggests that we need to know just
by looking at someone whether they are of this slave nature or not,
something which is really non-enforceable
๎‚ƒ Or, if ]๎‚š[๎‚ the case that ]๎‚š[๎‚ not problematic to judge about the quality of other
people`s souls, if some people can read thresholds of intellectual capacity,
becomes highly repugnant because if we take intellectual competencies as
measure of moral worth, those with mental deficiencies should not be seen as
our servants but as those requiring our special help and attention
x Why should they be serving the more capable and not the other way
around
Husband-wife relationship:
- Established for reproduction
- In contrast to the slave, Book I Section XIII, woman has deliberative faculty but without authority
o Weakness of the will, women have capacity to perhaps know the good, know what they
should do but become overwhelmed by emotions or impulses and don`t always follow
through
- Book I, Section XIII, relationship between man and a woman in the house is constitutional rule
o Almost consistently invoked when Aristotle is referring to relationships of equality
o Certain degree of reciprocity, citizens are ruled and rule in turn
o Certain participation in a spirit of equality
o Despite this relationship as one of constitutional rule it is a permanent ruler ruled
relationship, husband has more authority and is more fitted to rule than the woman
๎‚ƒ Permanent relationship of hierarchy yet in some way has spirit of equality
Parent-child relationship:
- Aristotle suggests that in case of child deliberative faculty is immature, likened to monarchical
rule, rule as by a king
- Once a child reaches a certain age when deliberative faculty is more developed they become
independent
- The family is not sufficient for the full development of individual character
o One limitation of the household as an association is that it is too homogenous, the
people in the household are very much alike, they are largely under the authority of one
individual, the patriarchal male, driven by the same priorities, the same understanding
of the good, the same material conditions that give individuals same outlook in life
o Even the household is not sufficient in terms of material needs
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