Mid-Term Study Guide POLB70
Aristocracy Aristotle highly esteems aristocracy, literally "the rule of the best," and considers it
superior to oligarchy because it values everyone's interests. He contrasts aristocracy
with oligarchy, democracy, and politeia by pointing out that these forms of government
concern themselves only with questions of wealth. Aristocracy, on the other hand,
confers benefits on the basis of merit, with the result that those who most deserve to
govern do in fact govern.
The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin
in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and
contrasted with monarchy. In later times, aristocracy was usually seen as rule by a
privileged group (the aristocratic class), and contrasted with democracy.
Aristoi Aristoi comes from Ancient Greek and means "the best". The term was used to
describe the noblemen in ancient Greece, those of a status above the common people.
Aristoi were members of the aristocracy and regarded as possessing the trait of Arete; a
Ancient Greek word for the social class of "noble warrior."
Autarkeia Aristotle - (1) self-sufficiency; (2) a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support
Cave Allegory Plato in his work The Republic to illustrate "our nature in its education and want
of education" (514a)
Plato lets Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a
cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the
wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to
these shadows. According to Plato's Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners
get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is
freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make
up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere
shadows seen by the prisoners.
Community of wives
Contemplative life vs.
Democracy Aristotle disparages democracy, literally "the rule of the people," as a type of
government in which the poor masses have control and use it to serve their own ends.
This involves the heavy taxation and exploitation of the rich, among other things.
Among forms of majority rule such as democracy, Aristotle prefers politeia, or
constitutional government Demos
(Platos 3 kinds of
Eudaimonia commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, "human flourishing" has been
proposed as a more accurate translation
Form of the Good Among the Forms, one stands out as most important. This is the Form of the Good.
Plato is unable to tell us exactly what the Form of The Good is, but he does tell us that
it is the source of intelligibility and of our capacity to know, and also that it is
responsible for bringing all of the other Forms into existence. He compares its role in
the intelligible realm to the role of the sun in the visible realm. The Form of the Good
is the ultimate object of knowledge; it is only once one grasps the Form of the Good
that one reaches the highest grade of cognitive activity, understanding. Therefore, it is
only after he grasps the Form of the Good that a philosopher-in-training becomes a
Goods (intrinsic vs. (a) Intrinsic good -- something that is valued in itself for its own sake,
instrumental) irrespective of the outcome. Even if there are bad consequences attached to an
intrinsic good, the existence of the good itself is enough to justify valuing it.
(b) Instrumental good something that is valued not for itself, but for the positive
consequences that result from it e.g., physical training because it produces good
Guardians Plato divides his just society into three classes: the producers, the auxiliaries, and the
guardians. The guardians are responsible for ruling the city. They are chosen from
among the ranks of the auxiliaries, and are also known as philosopher-kings.
Gyges' ring Plato - (II.359-60):
If you had that power, why not steal and cheat and commit all sorts of criminal
No one ever wants to be just, but only unwillingly, because we are forced to,
because of the bad consequences that result if we act unjustly.
Platonic epistemology holds that knowledge is innate, so that learning is the
development of ideas buried deep in the soul, often under the midwife-like guidance of
an interrogator. In several dialogues by Plato, Socrates presents the view that each soul
existed before birth with the Form of the Good and a perfect knowledge of everything.
Thus, when something is "learned" it is actually just "recalled."
Plato drew a sharp distinction between knowledge, which is certain, and mere opinion,
which is not certain. Opinions derive from the shifting world of sensation; knowledge
derives from the world of timeless forms, or essences. In The Republic, these concepts
were illustrated using the metaphor of the sun, the analogy of the divided line, and
theallegory of the cave.
Koinonia Roughly translatable as "association," koinonia is defined literally as "a sharing in