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Aristotle's definition of the polis

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Rebecca Kingston

Political Theory: Week 8 - November 3 , 2010 ]Z}o[Z]L]]}L}Z9}o]Z - Four features: o 1. Contain a diversity of people and associations brought together in the beginning to meet basic needs o 2. However, despite initial foundational aspirations to meet basic needs (e.g. security needs), politics aims at the ultimate good People not only seeking to live but to live well Searching for happiness In practice, most states misperceive this final goal, may try to aim at it, but for a ]}Z}LZZ}L[]2Z Hierarchy of models of government in Aristotle o 3. Not only are states different insofar as they meet the highest goal in various ways but the states themselves give themselves goals and identities that differ E.g. Some states will define their goals in terms of military virtue (e.g. Sparta), others envision other types of goals such as artistic excellence, economic prosperity, health N While people may be misguided and confused about all that the good encompasses, people are not completely void of aspirations for justice o 4. The political relation is specific because of its qualities of equality and reciprocity (notion of ruling and being ruled in turn, taking turns at having power) Aristotle emphasizes benefits of learning from both sides of the equation Art of being a citizen is an important one That being said, political relationships are only one component of a good life N Understanding of virtue encompasses more than just the political life N Strong ideal in Aristotle clinging towards theoretical wisdom, notion of }LKo]}L7]LKL]Z]}L7 L[}o]] oZ]L27Z philosopher reflects on his own N One component of person who exemplifies highest form of happiness - Most politi Z}ZL}lo ]LZZ} ] KZL 7Lo]l9o}7]Z}o}ZL[ despair at this possibility, Aristotle searches for the means and ways we can achieve the more limited good politics can give us o Aristotle much more of an optimist than Plato Constitutions and Citizenship: - What is a political community? o Not a military or commercial alliance, behind the regime is an attempt to live together in friendship
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