Our purpose is to consider what form of political community is best of all for
those who are most able to realize their ideal of life.
We will examine this best community as well as other constitutions, both real and
Order of tasks: 1. Discussion of the nature of the polis. 2. Examine other theories
of government and existing constitutions. 3. Making an argument for the best
o The birth of the community, the role of the citizen, distributive justice, etc.
o BUT emphasize looking at the COST of these things.
o The best political regime for Aristotle is the practical regime.
Aristotle’s Critique of Plato
This happens in book 2: The goal for Aristotle is to show how we need a new
theory of government since a perfect government does not exist, nor does a
MAJOR CRITIQUE: The problem with Plato: an overemphasis on unity.***
Socrates says ‘the greater the unity of the polis the better’ (II:II:16).
But isn’t it obvious that to attain such a unity would result in that community no
longer being a state at all?
o Too much unity is quite horrible – will destroy the state.
o Aristotle defends the relation of slavery. He argues that certain groups and
people are excluded from politics for a reason (slaves, certain classes of
workers, and women).
o With too much unity, the state becomes a family, and the family becomes
Quite literally, the nature of a polis is to be a plurality. (II:II:1819) It consists of a
great degree of different people fulfilling different roles, making different
Similars do not constitute a state…This would only be the destruction of the state.
(II:2:25) family – individual…
Indeed, if a polis desires selfsufficiency, the lesser degree of unity is more
desirable than the greater. (1261b: 15)
Women and children: It is not natural for children to be raised by the community.
Men should not share the women of the polis as Plato suggests, nor should
children be taken for their birth mothers and raised collectively.
Why? Well…if each citizen has a thousand sons…
There will be no way to prevent brothers, children, fathers, mothers, from
recognizing each other…children are often born like their parents…resemblance.
If relationship are unknown, and everyone lives in common, crimes such as
murder and assaults will be more likely to occur. Citizens will be less capable of
So these regulations concerning women and children would just defeat
themselves. View on property: defends the institution of private property. He argues that it’s
not property that causes wickedness as was commonly believed, but men
Why? The practice of generosity which is an important virtue, requires private
property…to give what is one’s own…also, things which are owned by persons
are attended to with better care.
Property, in a certain sense, should be com