- Aristotle: Ethics and politics
- Aristotle: Ethics and politics Roger Crisp ETHICS BACKGROUND AND METHOD Aristotle wrote no books on ethics. Rather, he gave lectures, the notes for which subsequently were turned by others into two books, the Nicomachean Ethics (NE) and the Eudemian Ethics (EE). There is much dispute over the relative dating and merit of these works, but the traditional view is that the Nicomachean Ethics represents Aristotle’s philosophical views on ethics in their more developed form, perhaps at around 330 BC, the Eudemian Ethics probably having been composed earlier for a more popular audience (though see Kenny [4.12]). There is a third ethical work sometimes attributed to Aristotle, the Magna Moralia, but this is probably post-Aristotelian. NE contains ten ‘books’, while EE contains eight. Oddly, they have books in common: books 4–6 of EE are the same as books 5–7 of NE. Scholarly disagreement has focused particularly on which work these books properly belong to. Controversy continues, but the more widely held view, based on study of Aristotle’s discussion of pleasure in the common books, is that they belong to the EE. It is NE which has traditionally been studied, along with the common books, so it is on that work that we shall concentrate. But EE should not be ignored by serious readers of Aristotle. Its differences from NE are subtle and interesting, and even if EE is earlier, it illuminates how Aristotle’s ethical thought developed. Whatever the relation between the works, it cannot be denied that NE is one of the most important works in ethics ever composed, both from the historical point of view and that of contemporary moral philosophy. Aristotle lectured in a room containing a three-legged table, wooden sofas, a whiteboard, and a bronze statue and globe. On the walls were, among other things, lists of virtues and vices, and depictions of Socrates. His audience would have consisted primarily of young men, of more than humble origin, who might hope to make their way in a career that was at least partly political. As Aristotle spoke from his notes, it is almost certain that he would have expanded upon or clarified certain points, perhaps in response to questions from his audience. The style in which we have NE has had the result that much Aristotelian scholarship has been, and continues to be, pure interpretation of what he says. But in the last few decades in particular, his views have been seen as the foundation for a modern ethics, based on virtue. Aristotle’s audience would have been able to make a difference to fourthcentury Athens, and NE is explicitly practical in intent. This is most certainly not an anthropological work, attempting dispassionate study of the common morality of the day. Aristotle, like Socrates and Plato before him, believed that certain aspects of that common morality were deeply mistaken. He wished to persuade his readers of this, intellectually and practically: ‘Our present study is not, like the others, for intellectual purposes. For we are inquiring into what virtue is not so that we may know, but to become good men, since otherwise it would be pointless’ (1103b26–9). What, for Aristotle, is ethics? A modern work on ethics will concern duties, obligations, responsibilities, rights. Those notions do have analogues in Aristotle’s ethical treatises, but he is primarily concerned with the question of the good life for human beings. The central ethical question for Greek philosophers was not, ‘What morally ought I to do or not to do?’, but, ‘What is eudaimonia?’ Eudaimonia. is usually translated as ‘happiness’, and we shall conform to that usage (see Kraut [4.22]). But some prefer to use notions such as ‘well-being’ or ‘flourishing’, in order to remove any implication that eudaimonia is a matter of contentment or short-term pleasure. It should not be forgotten, either, that daimon is Greek for ‘luck’, and that eu means ‘well’. In NE 1.9, indeed, Aristotle discusses the question of whether happiness is merely a matter of good fortune. Greek culture was a culture of excellence, in the sense that young men were widely encouraged to compete with one another in many areas of life, including, of course, athletic, intellectual and aesthetic activity. (The Greek word for excellence, aretê, has its root in anêr, ‘man’, as opposed to ‘woman’.) One of the central questions asked by Socrates, who provided the inspiration for Plato and hence the whole of Western philosophy, was, ‘What is aretê?’ Aretê has traditionally been translated ‘virtue’, and we shall again conform to tradition. But it should be remembered that, according to ancient Greek usage, a horse that ran fast or a knife that cut well could be said to have an aretê, as could a person who told good jokes, as we shall see below. Greek philosophers, then, were concerned to map the relations of happiness and virtue. Most of what we know of Socrates is through the depiction of him in Plato’s dialogues, but from these it appears that Socrates held that virtue is knowledge. This has the implication, as radical then as now, that the person who performs a vicious action does so out of ignorance. Socrates held also that knowledge, virtue and happiness were very closely related, and, indeed, put his view dramatically into practice. Given the chance to escape the death penalty imposed upon him by the city of Athens, he chose to remain, believing virtue to be ‘the most precious possession a man can have’ (Plato, Crito, 53c7). Plato continued the Socratic tradition, identifying dikaiosunê (usually translated ‘justice’, though the term covers morality more broadly) with an ordering of the parts of the soul in which reason governs desire and the emotions. For both Socrates and Plato, then, virtue was an extremely important component in human happiness, just how important being a central issue in modern discussions. Aristotle is most plausibly seen as working within the same tradition, asking the same sorts of questions and employing the same sorts of concepts, though his account is of course informed by the philosophical apparatus he developed in other areas of his own thought. Two things set him apart from Socrates and Plato. First, and here again we meet Aristotle’s emphasis on practicality, virtue itself is of no value; what matters is actually performing virtuous actions. Secondly, for Aristotle virtuous activity is the only component of happiness. Again, this has some very radical philosophical implications. The methods of the three philosophers were, however, quite different. Socrates proceeded by asking questions of those around him, and then subjecting the answers he received to searching scrutiny. Plato wrote his philosophy down, in the form of dialogues between Socrates and others. But in his later work, the dialogue form is merely a way to express his own radical metaphysical and moral views. Aristotle was quite reflective about method in ethics, and NE 1145b2–7 is one of his clearest statements. Here he says that, when considering an ethical issue, one should first set out (tithenai) the phainomena (which here means the views long accepted by most people, and the views of philosophers), then formulate the aporiai or puzzles that emerge, and finally do one’s best to resolve these puzzles in the light of the original phainomena. The way Aristotle goes on to treat the problem of akrasia just after this statement is a good example of this method at work. (For our purposes, we can translate akrasia as ‘weakness of will’, though we should not forget that there is some dispute about whether the Greeks had a concept of the will.) On the one hand, nearly everyone accepts that reason can come into conflict with desire, and lose. I know that this large cream cake will make me feel sick, but my desire for it is such that I cannot resist. On the other hand, because virtue is knowledge, Socrates refused to allow that people knowingly took what they knew to be the worse course of action. Aristotle seeks to resolve the puzzle by suggesting that people do indeed do what they know to be worse, but that they ‘know’ only in an attenuated sense. When I say, ‘I know this cake is going to make me sick’, I am merely spouting the words, like a drunk or an actor on stage, without a full grip on their content. Aristotle faces the problem all philosophers face, that he can set out the views of others and the philosophical problems that arise only from his own perspective. It can be questioned whether he really keeps to his methodological principles, and, if so, whether he is not heading in the direction of conservatism. There is no doubt that the tithenai method is often quite far from his mind, when he is engaging in straightforward philosophical argument, based either on premises from elsewhere in his philosophy or on what is generally believed. But even here, as we shall see in the case of his discussion of happiness, he is keen to show that his view chimes with the views of the many and the wise. That is something Socrates and Plato in their ethics never tried to do. They have more in common with those moral philosophers known as ‘intuitionists’, who suggest that there are certain fundamental truths about ethics which many people cannot see. Aristotle’s moral epistemology has some similarity to the forms of ‘coherentism’ which dominate contemporary philosophy, such as the ‘reflective equilibrium’ of John Rawls, which attempts to bring philosophical principles into harmony with our reactions to particular cases (see Rawls [4.52]). But, as already suggested, some of Aristotle’s views in ethics, and indeed in politics (see below), were far from conservative. Aristotle’s audience, as we saw, would have consisted primarily of well-off young men. They also had to be well brought-up. There is no point, Aristotle suggests, in those who are too young to understand ethics coming to lectures on the subject. In that respect, ethics is unlike mathematics, where prodigies are possible. The reason is that ethical understanding comes not only through philosophy, but first through ethical activity itself. We learn by doing. So to benefit from Aristotle’s lectures—to become better —you will need what he calls to hoti, ‘the that’, a basic grasp of the notions of virtue, happiness, and all that they entail. After reflection, aided by the lectures, will come to dihoti, ‘the because’, an understanding of the principles that lie behind ethics (NE 1095b6–7). Because of the importance of practical experience, ethics is unlike mathematics in its capacity for precision (and the same goes for politics: see pp.127, 133). This is something that Aristotle stresses several times early in NE (1.3; 1098a20–b8). A mathematics lecture can tell you exactly how to carry out a particular differential calculus, but an ethics lecture can give you only rough guidance on how to act in a particular case. The circumstances of human life are indefinitely complex and unpredictable, to the point that often experience is the only guide. As we shall see below, cultivating the intellectual virtue of phronêsis (‘practical wisdom’) will consist partly in developing a sensitivity to the salient features of particular cases that does not consist in mechanically subsuming the case under an explicit rule one has learned. This aspect of Aristotle’s understanding of ethics also explains something that some of his readers find peculiar. The core of NE, rather than offering us sets of principles or rules, consists in a set of portraits of the virtuous man. The point of these portraits, however, is to enable us to ‘latch on’to the nature of the virtue in question, and what it requires, so as better to be able to develop and to practise that virtue ourselves. HAPPINESS Aristotle is keen to point out to the potential politicians in his audience that ethics is a preliminary to politics (NE 1.2). He places the fields of human understanding in a hierarchy, those above in the hierarchy governing those below. At the top is politics, which governs the other disciplines in that it legislates when they are to be studied. Now the point of studying ethics is to understand the nature of individual human happiness; this is the ‘end’ of studying ethics. Politics will include that end, in the sense that it will decide how the human good is to be pursued within a city, and how the good of one person is to be balanced against that of another. Just as now, there was no shortage of views in fourth-century Athens concerning the human good. Aristotle splits the most common of these views into three (NE 1.5). First, he suggests, most people identify happiness with pleasure (this is the view known as hedonism). Aristotle dismisses the life of pleasure as the life of an animal, leaving it to later philosophers such as Epicurus and John Stuart Mill to draw attention to conceptions of happiness that stressed the non-bodily pleasures. Politicians are more sophisticated, he claims, seeing happiness as consisting in honour, the second view. This, however, is to be rejected because it depends on the opinions of others. We tend to believe that the basis of happiness is not as fragile as this. And, anyway, people pursue honour only to assure themselves of their own goodness, so that virtue is prior to honour. But virtue cannot be happiness either, since one could be in a coma or suffering the worst evils and be virtuous, and no one would count a person in such a position as happy. The third type of life Aristotle mentions is the contemplative life, and this receives substantial discussion at the end of NE (10.7–8). We can already see how Aristotle allows commonly accepted views about happiness—such as that the person in a coma cannot be happy—to shape the argument alongside his own philosophical arguments—such as that virtue is prior to honour. The two methodologies come together shortly afterwards in his putting certain conceptual constraints on the notion of happiness, which are intended to be uncontroversial (1097a15– 1097b21). Again, the notion of a hierarchy of goods or ends is central. Some goods or ends are clearly subordinate, or less ‘final’ (teleios), than others. When I go to town to buy a flute, my goal—the flute—is merely subordinate to some other goal, such as enjoying music. The highest good, Aristotle suggests, is thought to be unconditionally final, in the sense that it is never sought for anything else, while other things are sought for it. Happiness is unconditionally final, since we choose it for itself and not for other things, while we choose other things—flutes, honour, pleasure, the lot —for the sake of being happy. The notion of ‘self-sufficiency’ (autarkeia) was important in the philosophical world at the time NE was composed, and Aristotle points out how reflection upon this notion shows us something about the nature of happiness: ‘We take a self-sufficient thing to be what, on its own, makes life worthy of choice and lacking in nothing; and this is what we think happiness does’ (1097b14–16). Again, then, happiness is final. Nor should happiness be counted as one good among others, since then it would not be self-sufficient or the most worthy of choice of all goods. For it would always be improvable. Quite what Aristotle means here has been subject to a great deal of philosophical discussion (see, for example, Ackrill [4.18]; Crisp [4.20]; Keyt [4.24]; Kenny [4.23]; Kraut [4.22]). On one view, ascribing to Aristotle what is called the dominant view of happiness, he is arguing that happiness must be the most worthy of choice of all goods, and so superior to other goods. As we shall see below, there are strong reasons for identifying such a good with ‘contemplation’ (theôria). On another view, Aristotle holds an inclusive view of happiness, believing it to be the most final good in the sense that it includes all others. Flutes, honour, pleasure, and so on, are all, in some sense, parts of happiness. The inclusive view, on the face of it, seems to fit better with Aristotle’s stress on a hierarchy of ends the higher items of which ‘include’ (periechoi, NE 1094b6) those below. His famous ‘function’ argument, which we shall discuss below, does throw up a serious problem for the inclusivist interpretation, but we should first attempt to be clearer about just what notion of inclusion is in play. Help is at hand in the form of Aristotle’s discussion of Eudoxus at NE 1172b23–34. Eudoxus had argued that pleasure was the good (that is, the highest good), since pleasure, when added to any other good, makes it more worthy of choice, and the good is increased by the addition of itself. This is a poor argument, of course, but what matters here is Aristotle’s comment upon it. He says that all Eudoxus proves is that pleasure is one of the goods, and goes on to note that Plato uses the same sort of argument to show that pleasure is not the good. The pleasant life, Plato argued, is more worthy of choice when combined with wisdom, so it is not the good. For the good is such that nothing can be added to it to make it more choiceworthy. Aristotle does not mean in his claims about finality either that a happy life has to contain all the goods or that a happy life cannot be improved upon. The discussion of Eudoxus and Plato shows that he is primarily thinking of conceptions of happiness when he speaks of inclusion. A conception of happiness—that is, a list of the things that happiness consists in—must be complete. If I can add some good (such as wisdom) to a proposed list, then that list is, to that extent, faulty. So the correct conception of happiness must include all the goods there are. As we shall now see, this poses a serious problem of interpretation of Aristotle’s own view. Having set out the conceptual requirements on any conception of happiness, Aristotle suggests that we may be able to identify exactly what happiness consists in if we can discover the ergon, or ‘function’, of a human being (NE 1097b24–1098a20). Again, though there are problems with it, ‘function’ is the traditional translation here, so we shall continue to use it. The ergon of X is X’s characteristic activity, the sort of thing engaging in which makes X what it is. Thus, the ergon of a knife is to cut. That is also its function, of course, but the notion of function introduces the notion of some external purpose which is not present in the Greek. What, then, is the function, the characteristic activity, of a human being? It cannot be nutrition or growth, since these are common to humans and plants. Nor can it be sense-perception, since that is common to humans and other animals. All that is left is rationality or reason. Now the function of a lyre-player is to play the lyre, and the function of a good lyre-player to play the lyre well. So if we assume that the human function is that activity of the soul that expresses reason, then the good man’s function is to do this well. Doing anything well is doing it while expressing a virtue, so the human good turns out to be that activity of the soul that expresses virtue. Happiness, then, is virtuous action. This explains why Aristotle spends most of NE, a work concerning happiness, offering accounts of the nature of virtuous action. Before going on to consider the conclusion of the function argument in the light of the conceptual requirements that precede it, let us first consider the function argument itself. Aristotle’s argument here is a form of perfectionism, that is, a view which holds that the human good consists in the perfection of human nature. An old objection to his argument is its proceeding by elimination. Why should the human function not include, say, sense-perception? And how can excelling in rational activity be characteristic of human beings when the gods engage in just such activity? This objection, however, fails to take into account an obvious assumption lying behind the function argument, namely that plants and animals are not the sort of beings to which we ascribe happiness. So, given that humans are happy, it makes sense to seek the characteristic that distinguishes humans from plants and animals. True, this characteristic may be, indeed is, shared with the gods, but that does not matter for the purposes of the argument here. Another objection is more serious. Aristotle, it is said, forgets the distinction between ‘the good man’ and ‘the good for man’ (Glassen [4. 21]). I may well accept that the good or paradigm example of a human being is one whose life exemplifies the virtues. But it does not follow that such a life is the best life for the person who lives it. For it could be that by going against one’s nature one can obtain a life that is better for oneself. Finally, there is a general concern about perfectionist arguments as a whole, that they come too late. Most perfectionists imply that they are carrying out an independent inquiry into human nature, and then allowing their conception of the human good to be shaped in the light of their understanding of human nature. But all too often it can be suggested that the perfectionist is allowing his already-formed views of what happiness consists in to guide his conception of human nature itself. So the notion of human nature is left as a wheel spinning idly. In our conclusion below, we shall discuss the important role the notion of human nature plays in Aristotle’s politics, and raise a similar concern. There are, then, problems with the function argument. But the function argument is not Aristotle’s only way of arguing for his conception of happiness as virtuous activity. As we suggested, the portraits he paints of the attractions of the virtuous life, and the bad features of the vicious life, particularly in the middle books of NE, can be seen as speaking in favour of the virtuous life. Two further problems concerning Aristotle’s conception of happiness remain. The first concerns the relation between the conceptual requirement of inclusiveness and the idea that happiness consists in virtuous activity. Recall how the argument of Plato referred to in the Eudoxus discussion worked. If I suggest that happiness consists in pleasure, my claim can be refuted by showing that a life that contains wisdom as well as pleasure is better than a life which contains (the same amount of) pleasure. My list is incomplete, and I must add wisdom to it. The conclusion of the function argument leaves Aristotle with one item on his list: virtuous activity. Why should we not criticize him in the same way, by insisting that he add other goods, such as pleasure, wisdom or friendship, to his list? Arisotle’s response here would be that virtuous activity itself includes these goods (NE 1.8). The virtuous man will find true pleasure in virtuous actions, the exercise of virtue essentially involves wisdom, and friendship is one of the virtues. Aristotle even has a response to those who suggest that happiness requires ‘external goods’, such as money. For virtuous action will itself require such goods. You cannot, for example, be generous unless you have something to be generous with. Aristotle’s view of happiness, however, does have a very radical implication, so radical that it throws some doubt on the plausibility of the view. According to Aristotle’s account of happiness, there is nothing good in the life of the vicious person, since happiness consists in virtuous activity. This is a brave and interesting claim, and solidly within the Socratic- Platonic tradition, but it is too strong. Aristotle’s response to the objection just discussed above fails properly to individuate goods. For him to demonstrate that pleasure need not be added to the list, he has to show not only that virtuous activity involves pleasure, but that there is no pleasure independent of virtuous activity. This, however, would seem very hard to support. Can the vicious man not enjoy a good meal as much as the virtuous man? Some pleasures, and some other goods, are independent of virtuous activity, and will provide some rationale for the vicious life. Aristotle would then have to retreat to the less exciting, but more plausible, view that virtuous action offers the best prospects of happiness. This, however, would be enough for his view to be of practical import for his audience. The other problem of interpretation concerns the relation between the virtues ‘of character’—courage, generosity, and so on—and the activity of contemplation. Aristotle begins NE 10.7 as follows: ‘If happiness is activity expressing virtue, it is reasonable that it express the highest. This will be the virtue of the best thing.’ He goes on to suggest that the ‘best thing’ is understanding (nous), the activity expressing which is contemplation (theôria), and to defend the claim at length that contemplation is ‘final’ (teleios) happiness. There are many interpretations available of these claims of Aristotle, from the idea that he is straightforwardly inconsistent in his views concerning happiness to the notion that these chapters are an ‘end-of-term joke’, at the expense of Plato (Ackrill [4.18]; Moline [4.26]). One of the most common views has been that contemplation is indeed what Aristotle has meant all along by virtuous activity: the function argument does, after all, conclude that, if there are more virtues than one, happiness will be that which expresses the best and ‘most final’ (NE 1098a17–18). Aristotle throws dust in our eyes by attempting in NE to answer several questions at once. One is the question of what goes on the list of goods that constitute happiness, and his answer there is virtuous activity. Such activity can involve either contemplation or the virtues of character, and happiness can be found in either (1178a9). Another question, however, is, given this conception of happiness, which activity is the most conducive to happiness. And here his answer is, in the ordinary way of things, contemplation. It may have been that some in Aristotle’s audience were disappointed by the conclusion of NE. For Aristotle gives no explicit guidance on which kind of life to go for, that of the philosopher or of the politician. But he would have argued that which life is likely to be the happiest for any one individual depends on the particular circumstances of the case. His general advice is that contemplation is peculiarly valuable, so if one is capable of it in any reasonable degree, the life of the philosopher is probably the one to aim for. But if one is not a talented thinker but an excellent politician, one should probably choose the life of action. And there is nothing to prevent one, in the manner perhaps of Plato’s ‘philosopher kings’, attempting to combine both activities within the same life. To sum up our discussion so far. Aristotle’s enquiry is essentially a political one, concerning the running of a city. Political arrangements will be concerned with the promotion of human happiness, and this turns out to be virtuous activity. So from happiness, we are, like Aristotle, led into discussing virtue. And virtue, Aristotle points out (NE 1102a7–13), is again anyway a central topic of politics, since the ‘true politician’ spends more time on attempting to instantiate virtue in his citizenry than on anything else. VIRTUE Happiness is virtuous activity, and virtuous activity is activity of the soul. So it is important, Aristotle says, for the politician to have some understanding of the soul itself (NE 1.13). The soul can be divided into rational and nonrational parts. The rational part, with which, for example, we contemplate, is correlated with the ‘intellectual virtues’, the most important of which in connection with ethics is phronesis, or ‘practical wisdom’. The nonrational part can be subdivided, one of its subdivisions being concerned with nutrition and growth. The other part, however, has more in common with reason. We know that it exists, as Plato pointed out in the Republic, because there is something in us that struggles with reason in certain circumstances, such as when we are weak-willed. This part is also capable of obeying reason, as in the case of the continent man. Its virtues, the ‘virtues of character’, are courage, generosity, temperance, and so on. NE is concerned primarily with the virtues of character, though, as we shall see below, intellectual virtues have an important role to play in full virtue. Virtue of thought comes mostly from teaching, and there are some cases in which it is acquired very early. Think, for example, of a mathematical prodigy. But the virtues of character arise through habit (ethos) (NE 2.1). Teaching, of course, is important in steering people into the correct habits, but there is nothing in acquiring virtue analogous to the ‘flash of inspiration’ one finds in learning mathematics. Becoming virtuous is more like learning a skill, such as building. One learns to build a wall by doing it, and if one does it well, one will become a good builder. So performing just actions or courageous actions will result in one’s becoming just or courageous. Since the habits we get into are very much a result of the guidance we receive, it is essential for the moral educator—a parent at the individual level, a politician at the social level—to understand the role of habit. Someone might here raise a puzzle (NE 2.4). Surely, a person who is building is already a builder, and similarly someone who is performing just or generous actions is already virtuous? Aristotle points out that someone learning to build may just be following instructions, and notes that, for an agent to be virtuous, he must not only perform virtuous actions, but perform them in the right way: knowing what he is doing, choosing them for their own sake, and doing them out of a well-grounded disposition. The second of these three conditions provides a possible link between Aristotle’s ethics and the later ethics of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). According to Kant, moral worth attaches to an action only in so far as it is motivated by respect for the moral law. This has seemed objectionable to some philosophers, who believe, for example, that an action motivated by a loving concern for another person is morally praiseworthy. Here we find Aristotle telling us that a virtuous action is chosen for its own sake, not, for example, so that another person can be helped. Elsewhere he says that the virtuous man chooses virtuous actions for the sake of to kalon, ‘the fine’ or ‘the noble’ (NE 1115b12–13), and it is plausible to see this as, for him, equivalent to choosing them for their own sake. Again, however, there is no reference to concern for others: the focus is on oneself and on the quality of one’s actions. Virtues, then, are dispositions (hexeis), engendered in us through practice. Aristotle characterizes the nature of virtue using his famous ‘doctrine of the mean’ (NE 2.6). The idea of the mean had developed in Greek medicine, the basic thought being that the different bodily elements should be neither excessive nor deficient, but in harmony. Aristotle was probably influenced also by Plato’s conception in the Republic of the harmony of the elements in the best soul. Virtue of character aims at the mean in the following way: We can, for example, be afraid or be confident, or desire, or feel anger or pity, or in general feel pleasure and pain both too much and too little, and in both ways not well; but at the right times, about the right things, towards the right people, for the right end, and in the right way, is what is intermediate and best, and this is proper to virtue. Likewise, there is an excess, a deficiency and a mean in the case of actions as well. (NE 1106b18–24) It is important to be clear that Aristotle is not advocating here a doctrine of moderation. In the case of anger, for example, one should be moderate only if moderate anger is required in the circumstances. In some cases, such as a mild slight, mere crossness will be called for, in others, absolute fury. It all depends on the case. In the case of anger, then, the person with the virtue of even temper will feel angry at the right times, about the right things, in the right degree and so on. Imagine that something happens to me at three o’clock, the reasonable and virtuous response to which is anger. How is this ‘in a mean’? For Aristotle cannot intend us to think that it is in a mean between getting angry at two o’clock and getting angry at four o’clock! In the case of anger, you can err in two ways regarding when you get angry. You can get angry when you should not, or you can fail to get angry when you should. Both will be vicious, and if you have a disposition to either, you have a vice. The same goes for the other conditions: you can get angry with the wrong people, or fail to get angry with the right people, get angry for the wrong reasons, or fail to get angry for the right reasons, and so on. So, as Aristotle says, there is only one way to get it right, but many ways to go wrong (NE 1106b28–35). The passage quoted above primarily concerns feelings, and some authors have written as if there is a feeling underlying each of Aristotle’s virtues of character. But this is not so, for example, in the case of a central virtue, generosity (NE 4.1). In fact, more to the fore in Aristotle’s discussions of the individual virtues are the actions that exemplify them. And our account above shows how to understand the notion of an action’s being in a mean. Generosity is concerned with the giving away of money. The generous man is the one who gives it away, for example, at the right times, whereas the prodigal man will give it away at the wrong times, and the ungenerous man will fail to give it away when he should. It is sometimes suggested that there is something almost tautologous about the doctrine of the mean: you should do what is right, and what is right is what is not wrong (see Barnes [4.15]). But in fact the doctrine of the mean represents an important ethical discovery by Aristotle. He divides human life into certain central ‘spheres’, concerning the control of money, social life, sexual desire, common emotions such as anger or fear, and so on, and notices that there is a right way to act or to feel in each of these spheres, depending on the circumstances. And unlike an ethics of constraint (a list of ‘don’ts’), Aristotle sees that ethics requires positive action or feeling, not mere avoidance. Each sphere is, as it were, neutrally characterized: if I know that you have given away money, I cannot yet tell whether that is vicious. The virtuous man is the one who acts and feels well, and the vicious are those who perform the same actions and feel the same feelings at the wrong time or in the wrong way, or fail to do so when they should. What, then, are the virtues of character, according to Aristotle, and what are their spheres? Consider the following table: Virtue Sphere Discussion in NE Courage Fear and confidence 3.6–9 Temperance Bodily pleasure and pain 3.10–12 Generosity Giving and taking money 4.1 Magnificence Giving and taking money on a large scale 4.2 Magnanimity Honour on a large scale 4.3 (Nameless) Honour on a small scale 4.4 Even temper Anger 4.5 Friendliness Social relations 4.6 Truthfulness Honesty about oneself 4.7 Wit Conversation 4.8 Aristotle also briefly discusses shame, which he says is not really a virtue, and righteous indignation (NE 1108a30–b6; 4.9). He devotes the whole of book 5 to justice, and his notorious attempts to force this virtue into his framework fail (1133b29–1134a13). The reason for this should be clear from our discussion above: in the case of justice there is no neutrally characterizable action or feeling which the virtuous man can do or feel at the right time. Books 8 and 9 of NE concern another virtue, philia, usually translated as ‘friendship’, though it is in fact wider than this. Justice, then, is a problem with the doctrine, and there are more technical difficulties with particular virtues such as courage. But the doctrine of the mean on the whole provides Aristotle with a sound framework in which to discuss and systematize the virtues and vices. The list is interesting, in that it contains nothing corresponding to what we might call benevolence or kindness, a general concern for others at large. Some have said that this demonstrates the size of the cultural gap between pre- and post-Judaeo-Christian societies. But one might suggest that the core of the virtue of benevolence is located elsewhere by Aristotle, primarily in the virtue of friendship. The Aristotelian virtuous man may perhaps be excessively concerned with ‘the fine’, but this does not make him heartless. It has to be admitted that the notion of general benevolent concern for humanity at large does not play any significant role in Aristotle’s ethics. But it must also be admitted that general benevolent concern, as opposed to concern for those with whom the agent has some personal connection, plays a smaller part in modern ethical life than many of us like to admit. What is the relation of the intellectual virtues to the mean and to the virtues of character in general? Aristotle begins his discussion of the intellectual virtues in such a way that it sounds as if he is agreeing with those who find the doctrine of the mean to be empty (NE 6.1). Telling someone that the right action is in a mean between two extremes, he says, is rather like telling an ill person to take the drug the doctor would prescribe. But we should remember here Aristotle’s insistence that the listener to his lectures should have a basic grasp of the elements of ethics. Someone who has that can then use it as a starting-point for reflection on the nature of the virtues, and consequent character change. I might, for example, reflect upon the large number of times I have been angry with students over the last few weeks, and follow Aristotle’s advice to steer myself in the opposite direction in future. But really getting it right on every occasion, Aristotle says, will require that one’s feelings and actions are in accordance with ‘correct reason’ (orthos logos). This is not a matter of habituation, but something more intellectual, and will require the possession of the intellectual virtue of practical wisdom. Practical wisdom is broad, and includes an ability not only to find the right means to certain ends, but the ability to deliberate properly about which ends are worthy of pursuit (NE 6.8–9; 6.12). The person with practical wisdom, then, will have the correct understanding of happiness, and the role of virtue in constituting happiness, and be able to apply his understanding in everyday life. But practical wisdom is not like, say, mathematical ability, which can be acquired early and operates according to the application of certain explicit rules. Practical wisdom, like the virtues of character, develops with experience, and has as much to do with seeing the salient features of certain situations, and acting and responding appropriately in the light of them, as with any ability for explicit deliberation. Some have seen Aristotle’s discussion of practical wisdom as disappointing, perhaps because they hope for some explicit and detailed ethical rules by which to live. Aristotle does offer some pretty specific rules—such as that you should ransom your father from pirates rather than repay a debt to someone (NE 1164b33– 1165a2)—and the general rules ‘be virtuous’ and ‘aim at the mean’ are of course always in the background. But Aristotle is insistent, and surely correct, that one cannot learn virtue solely from philosophical books or lectures. Practical wisdom, since it involves seeing in the right way, is a necessary condition for possessing any virtue. And if in any particular case you have the general capacity to see what is right and do it, you will have it in all cases. So, though Aristotle is prepared to distinguish one virtue from another, he is not ready to allow that one can possess one virtue and lack another (NE 6.13). One cannot, for example, be generous and cowardly. One important reason for Aristotle’s holding this view is his thought that virtue requires getting it right. For vices can distort the deliverances of any disposition, however close it may be to being a full-blooded virtue. In a situation where generosity required conquering fear, the person might not do the generous thing, and that would mean that he lacked the virtue. Good intentions are not enough. ARISTOTLE AND CONTEMPORARY ETHICS Aristotle’s ethics were immensely influential. They were the focus of Hellenistic ethics, and were also extremely important in the Christian tradition, most strikingly in the work of Thomas Aquinas (c.1225–1274). Of course, it was not only the Aristotelian ethics which were significant during this period, but the whole Aristotelian world view. With the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, however, Aristotelian science began to decline in importance, and the ethics met with the same fate. In the place of Aristotelian ethics developed modern systems of ethics, many of them employing notions alien to Aristotelian thought. The two main developments were Kantian ethics, according to which morality is a universal law of reason and individual rights are sovereign, and utilitarian ethics, according to which one should act so as to produce the greatest amount of happiness. In science, the move away from Aristotle was not complete. In his famous work on the circulation of the blood, for example, William Harvey refers to Aristotle more than to any other thinker. And the same is true in ethics: the Kantian emphasis on reason in ethics cannot help but remind us of the function argument (see p. 115) and practical wisdom, while utilitarian concern for happiness has its roots in Greek eudaimonism. But over the second half of the twentieth century, there has been a self-conscious attempt by certain philosophers to return to a more explicitly Aristotelian ethics. This movement began in 1958, with the publication of Elizabeth Anscombe’s article ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’ [4.46]. Anscombe, following Schopenhauer, argued that modern ethics revolved around notions of legalistic obligation which made little sense in the absence of a divine lawgiver. She suggested that philosophers desist from moral philosophy, and turn to psychology. ‘Eventually’, she claimed, ‘it might be possible to advance to considering the concept “virtue”; with which, I suppose, we should be beginning some sort of a study of ethics’ (Anscombe [4.46] 15). This was the beginning of what has come to be known as ‘neo- Aristotelian virtue ethics’. The ‘neo-’ here is, however, rather important. For certainly these writers have not sought to revive Aristotelian ethics. Indeed it might be argued that the differences between their views and those of Aristotle are such that the link between them is only as strong as the link between Aristotle and Kant or Aristotle and the utilitarians. Virtue ethicists, like Aristotle, begin with the notion of eudaimonia, or human flourishing, considering the agent and his life as a whole, rather than concentrating on individual and isolated right and wrong actions. But this is not a difference in substance between them and the Kantians and utilitarians, for these latter theorists can also offer an account of the good life and moral character. It is just that often they have not bothered. No modern writer has adopted the strong Aristotelian view that happiness consists only in virtuous activity. Indeed many modern virtue ethicists, such as Philippa Foot [4.48] or Alasdair MacIntyre [4.50], are sceptical about objective accounts of the human good. Even those who are less sceptical, such as Rosalind Hursthouse [4.49], tend to see the virtues as instrumental to human flourishing, understood independently from the virtues themselves, thus taking the ‘best bet’ strategy we mentioned above. Another important difference between Aristotle’s eudaimonism and that of most modern writers is his apparent acceptance of egoism, the view that reasons justifying action must ultimately rest on the agent’s own self- interest. There is nothing in the Aristotelian corpus to suggest other than that Aristotle’s aim was to offer to his listeners an account of the best life for a human being in order that they might pursue it for themselves. The idea of reasonable self-sacrifice for others is quite absent, since there is no gap between self-interest and the virtues (NE 9.8). Perhaps the most direct Aristotelian influence can be seen in the writings of John McDowell [4.51], David Wiggins [4.54], and others who stress the notion of a sensitivity to the morally salient features of situations as constituting the heart of virtue and morality itself. But even here the importance of ‘mother wit’ in Kant, or the role of perception in the deontological intuitionism of W.D.Ross (1877–1971), himself a great Aristotelian scholar, should not be forgotten. The utilitarian tradition, it is true, has tended to place more emphasis on calculation than moral perception, but again this is a matter of contingency. Utilitarians need some account of practical wisdom or moral judgement as much as any other moral theorist. The above discussion is intended to suggest that the distinctions drawn between different schools in modern ethics are not as precise or useful as many believe them to be. Ultimately, the real difference between one moral philosopher and another lies in how they tell us to live, and the reasons they give for living in that way. No one now speaks ordinarily of megalopsuchia (usually translated as ‘magnanimity’, but not meaning what is now meant by that term), which for Aristotle was the crown of the virtues (NE 4.3). The magnanimous man thinks himself worthy of great things, and has one concern above all others: honour. He stirs himself only when some great achievement is at stake. There is indeed much to be learned from Aristotle’s account of the virtues, but his moral ideal is a long way from ‘neo-Aristotelian’ modern writers, particularly those who emphasize the virtue of care for the vulnerable. Most importantly, perhaps, we should remember the political context in which Aristotle was writing (see below). His virtues are intended for fourthcentury Athenian noblemen, inhabiting a city-state with a population of tens of thousands rather than of millions. This is not to say that Aristotle is any kind of relativist, grounding his account of virtues in whatever social context they were to appear in. Rather, he believed that the Greek polis was, universally, the best form of human society, and that the virtues that it made possible were largely the reason for this. For this reason, it is dangerous to draw conclusions about what Aristotle would have thought about how individuals should live in modern societies entirely different in their details and general nature from the Greek polis. Perhaps the correct way to approach Aristotelian ethics is not to claim him as an ally in or authority for one’s own views about modernity. Rather, he should be read carefully and sensitively, with an understanding of historical, social and political context, as one of the best sources of insight into the human ethical condition available to us. THE POLITICS Trevor J.Saunders INTRODUCTION It is a fair test of a political philosopher to ask him to describe what in his view is the best form of communal human life. Aristotle would give you this reply: ‘It is to live as a citizen in that special kind of aristocracy which I describe in my Politics, in what you moderns call “books” 7 and 8. You and your fellow-aristocrats would not be numerous: you would be able to address them all in a single gathering. The territory of your state would be correspondingly modest. Your citizenship would be granted you on the strength of your high moral and political virtue, which you would have acquired as a result of systematic exposure to a carefully contrived programme of private and state education. The other members of your household would be your wife, children, servants, and slaves. Your resources, ample but not great, would come from your land; but you would not need to bother your head much about that, as your slaves would do the work. Trade and handicrafts would be confined to free men who are not citizens; for such people, though necessary to the state, would not be parts of it. You would spend much of your time on leisure activities—not just play, but rather the serious intellectual and cultural pursuits of what you would now call a gentleman. Why do I think this the ideal life? Pray read the rest of my Politics.’<sup>1</sup> Taking the Master’s advice calls for effort. Though of the highest importance and influence, the Politics, unlike the Nicomachean Ethics, is a rather ragged work. Aristotle employs his usual elegantly plain style, which can at times be spare to the point of sketchiness and even obscurity. But that is not the real bother. Though substantial stretches of the text are structured and beautifully written wholes, there are frequent puzzles in the detail: unclear references back and forth, enquiries left incomplete, and sudden changes of subject-matter and standpoint. To reconstruct Aristotle’s full thought on a given subject, it is usually necessary to thumb through the entire work and collect the relevant passages—which are not always consistent with each other. The abundant references given below are designed to speed the reader’s thumb. (Unless otherwise stated, all references are to the Politics.) On the global scale too, the structure and sequence of the eight books seem strange, and have prompted many commentators into reordering them in accordance with a priori views about the natural disposition of their contents, or with theories about Aristotle’s philosophical development. The debate was substantially enriched by Jaeger in 1923 ([4. 84] 259–92), who argued powerfully for an Aristotle gradually freeing himself from Platonic political assumptions and methods, an emancipation traceable in various strata of the text. But this controversy, though inky, has proved inconclusive, and ‘genetic’ analyses are not now in vogue. It is perfectly reasonable to do what most interpreters now do in practice, that is take the Politics as it comes, and to assume that however Aristotle composed the parts, he intended to present the ensemble as we have it, failing only to tighten the nuts and bolts.<sup>2</sup> Nevertheless, a brief survey of three of the more conspicuous difficulties of structure will serve to provide some idea of the contents of the work as it has come down to us. (1) Book 2, on certain theoretical utopias (notably Plato’s Republic and Laws), and on three historical states (including Sparta) in fine repute, looks as if it may have been written first, as the standard Aristotelian review, at the start of a work, of his predecessors’ contributions to the subject in hand. Why then does book 1, a strongly sociological analysis of the state and its parts, and philosophically the richest book of all, precede it? Does it contain theoretical groundwork of which Aristotle realized the need only when composing the rest of the Politics? (2) Why is the closing sentence of 3, a book devoted to questions of political power in the various constitutions, similar to the opening one of 7, on the ideal state? Both speak of the need to examine the ‘best’ constitution. But books 4–6 are full of historical analysis, and advice on the reform of existing and imperfect states. So have they been inserted between 3 and 7 by some clumsy editor? Even if they have been, the implications for our understanding of the Politics as a whole are mysterious. (3) Why does book 8, the last, break off in mid-discussion? It is unlikely that Aristotle simply became bored with political theory, since on his own showing knowledge about the working of the state, politikê epistêmê, is the supreme, allembracing knowledge, that is of how to achieve the highest human good (NE 1.2, Politics 1.1 ad init.). Perhaps he died pen in hand. If that is so, it suggests that books 7 and 8 are not his early thoughts, inspired by Platostyle idealism, but the genuine conclusion and practical aspiration of the entire work. Perhaps the best advice to give a reader of the Politics, particularly a new reader, is to be aware of such specialized academic problems, for they can affect interpretation, but not to become obsessed by them. For in spite of variations in detail, Aristotle’s political philosophy is clearly a fundamentally consistent whole, underpinned by firm and constant philosophical foundations. NATURE In 1.2, utilizing a long-established optimistic and progressivist tradition in Greek historical anthropology, Aristotle tells the following story. Civilization ‘has advanced sequentially, through three ‘associations’, koinôniai: 1 household (oikos), formed of the two primitive ‘associations’ of manwoman, master-slave; 2 village (kômê), formed of several households; 3 state (polis), formed of several villages. The naturalness of each association is stressed heavily. Man-woman: they have a natural urge to breed; master-slave: natural ruler and natural ruled; household: formed by nature for everyday purposes; village: ‘by nature to an especial degree, as a colony of a household—children and grandchildren’; state: it exists by nature, for all men have a natural impulse towards such an association. Each stage incorporates its predecessors, and brings an increase in material resources, presumably because of increasing specialization of function and opportunities for exchange of goods and services. In part, material comfort and security are what all these associations are for. But at stage 2 Aristotle’s ulterior preoccupation begins to emerge: the village is formed for ‘other than daily purposes’; and at stage 3 the state, which is a ‘complete’ association and totally self-sufficient, ‘came into being for the sake of life, zên, but exists for the sake of the good life, eu zên’. By ‘selfsufficiency’ Aristotle means here not merely an assured supply of all necessary material goods from domestic or foreign sources, but the opportunities afforded by the complex demands of life in a polis for the full exercise of a man’s natural potentialities for rational conduct in conformity with the moral virtues (on these, see pp. 118–22 above). Such conduct both leads to, and is, human ‘happiness’, eudaimonia; it is the ‘good’ life for which the state exists (cf. 7.1, 13, NE 1097b1 ff.). Hence, in Aristotle’s celebrated formulation, man is a phusei politikon zôion, ‘an animal (fit) by nature for (life in) a polis’ (cf. 1278b15 ff.). For this animal is unique in possessing reason and speech, and a capacity for shared moral values (1253a7–18). Hence again, a man who does not live and act in a state is a man indeed, but no more a full man, i.e. a fully functional man, than a hand made of stone is a functional hand. He is functionally stunted, and the measure of happiness he attains is limited. This latter point is worth developing. To Aristotle, it is no more a matter for surprise or indignation that one man should by nature be better equipped than another for acquiring virtue and thereby achieving happiness than that he should be by nature stronger physically, with a greater potential for (say) weight-lifting. ‘Happiness’ is on a sliding scale: one can have more or less of it (1328a37–40, 1331b39–1332a7). Hence he has an immediate answer to the objection that vast numbers of people (‘barbarians’, i.e. non-Greeks) live and apparently flourish in societies other than Greek poleis. That they are happy up to a point, he would concede; that they are fully so, he would deny. In a Greek polis, did they but know it, they would be happier (cf. 7.7). Happiness is not, or not only, a subjective feeling of satisfaction in achievement (see p. 110): it is an objective and definable state of affairs, of human flourishing, that is to say rational activity in accordance with the virtues; for this is man’s natural function (see p. 115). Further objections spring up, as many as the heads of the Hydra. Several, centring on the notion of ‘function’ in human behaviour, have been explored already (pp. 115–16). In addition: (1) Even in terms of Aristotle’s own natural philosophy, in which the paradigm of the ‘natural’ is biological growth (see Physics 2.1), the state is hardly natural. It is much more like an artefact, full as it is of elaborate constitutional and social contrivances that certainly do not develop naturally, as an embryo develops naturally into an adult member of its species, of its own accord, given all facilitating conditions (see Keyt [4.86]. (2) But even if we grant that the development from primitive pairings through household and village to state may properly be conceived on a biological model, in virtue of natural urges to develop such associations, difficult questions confront us: for example, can the same analysis be applied to a process involving many individuals in many changing relationships as is applied to a single individual’s physical growth into an adult? (3) More generally, how far ought we to privilege certain human characteristics, or certain patterns of human social behaviour, on the strength of either parallels to them or differences from them in the characteristics or behaviour of animals?<sup>3</sup> Perhaps the best we can do for Aristotle is to extend the notion of ‘natural’ to embrace anything which is the product of man’s natural faculties, conspicuously reason, and which conduces to his happiness; and indeed Aristotle himself at times speaks in this way (for example 1279a8– 13, 1287b36–41; on his ‘political naturalism’, see Miller ([4.91], 27–66). But as we shall see, he is prepared to be very specific indeed about ‘anything’; for human institutions are, he believes, capable of normative assessment. Some things conduce to happiness, some do not. Human skill should follow and supplement nature (cf. 1337a1–3). Consequently, relativism in social and political values and institutions is to be firmly rejected. No doubt all sorts of theoretical and practical controversies are possible; but in the end they are capable of definitive solution by reference to the fulfilment of men’s natural capacities, to the sort of being a man naturally and peculiarly is. Aristotle’s natural teleology has three important consequences for political theory and practice. (1) A man in a state of nature is not someone living in simple primitive ‘happiness’ in a nudist camp; nor is he Hobbes’ natural man, naked and shivering in the wind before achieving such protection and comfort as society affords him. Rather, to be in a natural condition is to be a functionally fulfilled member of a polis: one goes not back to nature, but forward to it. (2) Though the state is indeed a device to ensure peace and protection, its role is not simply to hold the ring in a minimalist or merely contractualist manner, between socially or commercially contesting individuals or groups (3.9). It should take comprehensive care of every department of life, economic, social, political, military, private, public, secular, religious; in particular, it should take extreme pains to ensure the proper moral formation of its members (8.1). (3) Despite that, the state is not a super-entity, with interests and purposes independent of, or superior to, those members’ happiness; for happiness is ultimate: men can have no higher aim (see p. 114); and that aim is the ‘common task’, koinon ergon, of the association, koinônia, which is the state. The polis is therefore essentially a communal and co-operative enterprise, depending heavily on reciprocal services and mutual benefits. These benefits are to be won not by men conditioned or brainwashed into being social and political robots, but by men with discretion founded on phronêsis, practical wisdom (on which see pp. 121–2). Hence, although Aristotle has much to say about the ways in which one section of a polis may pursue its own interests at the expense of other parts, or of the whole, he never confronts directly the issue so vital to us in this century, of ‘totalitarianism’, the subjugation of the interests of the individual and of subordinate organizations to the interests of the state itself, as a superentity. The point of the thesis at 1253a18 ff., which sounds so alarming, that the state is ‘prior by nature’ to household and individual, is that while the state can flourish without any particular individual, no individual can attain ‘happiness’ without it, i.e. when he is not fully functional as one of its citizens. Aristotle drives no wedge between the interest of the individual and those of the state: to him, a totalitarian polis would not be a polis at all.<sup>4</sup> AIMS AND METHODS How then does Aristotle tackle the political theory and practice of his day? Four strands in his text are readily discernible: 1 Theoretical fixed points: a technique of analysis based on a cluster of such concepts as nature, function, virtue, and happiness, deployed teleologically. 2 Practical fixed points: the institutions of the ‘best’ state, in which the concepts of 1 are instantiated in as feasible a form as possible (1328b35–9). But the best state does not exist (though it could). So the great bulk of Aristotle’s discussion is taken up with: 3 Description and analysis of the (mistaken) theoretical underpinning and actual practices of less-than-ideal constitutions or states existing or merely proposed, with comment which at times becomes exceedingly censorious. Aristotle is nevertheless prepared to judge a state or constitution in the light of its success or failure in achieving its ‘hypothesis’, i.e. its own political aims and standards, as in book 2 passim; for such standards can have some limited merit. In general, he has considerable respect for endoxa, common reputable opinions (cf. pp. 111–12, and his handling of the controversies about slaves and about justice in constitutions, pp. 137 and 131–2). 4 Implicit in (3), recommendations for correcting existing theory, and for improving existing practice in order to make it approximate more closely to the ideal; for the ‘statesman’ (citizen active in state affairs, see p. 132 and n. 11 below) has a ‘duty of care’ even to inferior constitutions (4.1).<sup>5</sup> These four strands mesh in complex ways; and the abundant historical detail which Aristotle cites (sometimes with impressive induction) as evidence for his arguments lends his text both colour and authenticity.<sup>6</sup> In short, he is at once philosopher, don, critic, data-processor, and political reformer. APPLICATIONS Admittedly, Aristotle as a political reformer is not a familiar figure. There is a common idea that it was Plato who was the reformer par excellence (consider only the Philosopher-Kings of his Republic), whereas Aristotle stuck more closely to the realities of Greek life—so closely, in fact, as make his political philosophy a mere rationalization of the status quo. This is a half-truth at best. Aristotle’s conceptual apparatus, in which nature is central, is capable of yielding the most radical political ideals, very much askew to the standard assumptions of his day. I take four examples. 1 Constitutions and citizenship Aristotle defines a ‘constitution’, politeia, in terms of a power-structure which embodies and promotes the state’s social aims and moral values. It is ‘an ordering (taxis) which states have concerning their offices (archai)—the manner in which they have been distributed, what the sovereign (kurion) element of the constitution is, and the purpose (telos) of each association (koinônia, i.e. state)’ (1289a15–18, cf. 1.1, 1295a34–b1). His typology of constitutions contains therefore both a formal element and a moral element: the identity, number, and economic status of the sovereign rulers, and the character of their rule. It is also interlarded with lengthy analyses of the social, economic, and psychological factors which make for the preservation and destruction of the various constitutions. The texts are lavish but scattered, mainly in 3.6–18 and books 4–6. For a new reader, 3. 6–8 and 4.2 form the best introduction, followed by the ‘chief texts’ listed below. Straight or correct constitutions, operating in the common7 interest: Kingship, basileia: a species of ‘rule by one’ monarchia. Aristotle considers this to be ideally the best constitution, provided that a monarch of supreme virtue and political wisdom is available; but he never is. Chief texts: 3.13–18; 5.10, 11. Aristocracy, aristokratia: ‘power of the best’, aristoi. Rule by few, typically of noble breed, wealthy, cultured, and virtuous. Chief texts: 3.18; 1289a30–3; 4.7–8; 5.7. Polity, politeia (awkwardly: this is also the general word for ‘constitution’): rule by many, specified variously. For there appear to be three forms: (i) rule by heavy-arms bearers; (ii) a ‘mixed’ system, judiciously combining elements of oligarchy and democracy; (iii) rule by a large middle class, i.e. persons who are neither rich nor poor, and who have only moderate appetites for wealth and power; this composition of a state is ‘by nature’ (1295b27–8).<sup>8</sup> Chieftexts: 1265b26–9; 3.7; 4.7–9, 11, 13; 1307a5–33. Bent or deviated constitutions, operating in the interests of the rulers only: Tyranny, turannis: a species of ‘rule by one’ monarchia. Chief texts: 4.10; 5.11, 12. Oligarchy, oligarchia: ‘rule by few’; oligoi, typically wealthy. Chief texts: 4.4, 6; 5, 1, 6, 9, 12; 6.6, 7. Democracy, dêmokratia: ‘power of the people’, dêmos. Rule by many, typically poor. Chief texts: 1284a17 ff.; 4.4, 6, 9, 12; 5.1, 5; 1310a22 ff.; 6.2, 4. On restricted democracies, see 1274a11 ff., 1281b21 ff., 1297b1 ff. This schema, which has antecedents in Plato and elsewhere, is fundamental to the entire Politics; and it is subject to numerous and at times bewildering refinements and elaborations, which reflect the extraordinary variety of Greek political practice. But Aristotle gives us more than static description of complex constitutional facts: he provides a dynamic, psychological analysis of how they come about. The root cause, he claims, is varying perceptions of ‘the equal’ (to ison), and ‘the just’ (to dikaion 5.1 ff.). Democrats argue that since they are equal in one respect, free birth, they ought in justice to be equal in all, i.e. political power; oligarchs believe that since they are unequal, i.e. superior, in one thing, wealth, they ought in justice to be unequal in all, i.e. they ought to have greater political power. When political facts collide too sharply with these political beliefs, civil strife, stasis, can break out; hence the frequent modifications to, and indeed complete changes of, constitutions. Aristotle, by contrast, thinks that the sole proper claim to political power is political virtue, that is the practical ability to further the purposes for which the polis naturally exists (3.9, 12, 13); and in this endeavour political power ought to be distributed differentially to different degrees of political virtue, more to more, less to less,<sup>9</sup> though both wealth and numbers have some contribution to make (3. 11; 1283a16–22, b27–34, 1293b34 ff., 1309a4–7). By ensuring that constitutions are not extreme, and by cultivating the political beliefs and habits of the population in the spirit of the existing constitution, a measure of stability can be won (1260b8 ff., 1310a12 ff.). Finally, the rule of impartial law is essential to the very existence of a constitution (1291b39– 1292a38). Aristotle’s functional analysis of entitlements to rule dovetails with his functional definition of a citizen (3.1–2): ‘he who shares in deliberative and judicial office’.<sup>10</sup> That is, a citizen, politês, is one who is active in ‘running the affairs of the polis’, politeuomenos, in accordance with its constitution, politeia, as a ‘statesman’, politikos.<sup>11</sup> From all this it follows, in Aristotle’s view: i that across the entire range of constitutions, the number of citizens strictly conceived varies sharply: few or very few in oligarchies and aristocracies, many or very many in democracies;<sup>12</sup> ii that in all oligarchies and in some democracies (those with some property-qualification for citizenship) there will be variable numbers of native free adult males who are not citizens in the full sense, but only equivocally (like women and children, cf. 1278a4–5); slaves and foreigners, of course, qualify in no sense; iii that in devisted constitutions, although the citizen-body, politeuma, operates in its own interests, it may, and prudentially should, pay some attention to the interests of others. The few rich, if sovereign, should not ‘grind the faces of the poor’, and the numerous poor, if sovereign, ought not to ‘soak the rich’ beyond endurance; for either excess may lead to stasis (1295b13 ff.; 4.12; 1308a3 ff., 1309a14–32, b14– 1310a12; also 5.11, on tyrannies); iv that there is a distinction to be made between the good citizen and the good man. The former is befitted by his personal sympathies, virtues, and attainments to be a citizen under a particular imperfect constitution; the latter is befitted by his to be a citizen under the ‘best’ constitution (cf. 8.1). The virtue of the former is pluriform, for there are many imperfect constitutions; the virtue of the latter is not only perfect but single, for there is in principle only one best constitution (3. 4; 1310a12 ff., cf. NE 1135a3–5); v that both good citizens and good men exercise their virtue, i.e. that of practical wisdom, phronêsis, most fully when ruling; but since they are all equal, and since obviously not all may rule simultaneously, they must take it in turns to rule and be ruled, in some principled manner laid down in the constitution (1279a8 ff., 1332b12 ff.). Their virtue is therefore twofold: to know how to rule and be ruled well; indeed, by engaging in the latter they learn to do the former (1277a25 ff.).<sup>13</sup> Given, then, that the ideal single ruler does not exist and is never likely to, and that the natural capacity of men for developing virtue and thereby achieving ‘happiness’ varies widely, it is scarcely surprising that Aristotle, in seeking the ‘best’ state, should look to some form of aristocracy. For only in an aristocracy are good man and good citizen one and the same person, because the criterion for office-holding is not only wealth but virtue (3.18; 4.7, 8). Aristotle’s fundamental intentions are plain: what he wants to see above all in his citizens is education and virtue; for these are at once the conditions of ‘happiness’ (7.1, esp. 1323b21 ff.; 8.1), and the criteria for the holding of office (cf. 1326b15, ‘merit’); and in an aristocracy, by definition, the best (aristoi) men exercise power.<sup>14</sup> Nevertheless, Aristotle never calls his ‘best’ state an aristocracy, perhaps because as aristocracies go it is highly unusual.<sup>15</sup> i The members of an aristocracy, i.e. its citizens, are typically wealthy. But the members of Aristotle’s aristocracy do not value wealth: they are to possess only moderate resources, which are all that is necessary for life; what matters to them is the ‘goods of/concerning the soul’ (7. 1, cf. 1. 8–10). ii The members of an aristocracy are normally few, in relation to the total free adult male population of the state (aristocracy is a kind of oligarchy, 1290a16–17). Yet it is possible, though Aristotle gives no figures, that the restricted level of private resources in his own aristocracy would permit it to be more widely diffused: a few dozen or even a few hundred members look rather too few for his purposes.<sup>16</sup> But it is clear that he would not wish to see any approximation to Plato’s diffused aristocracy (Magnesia) in his Laws, where the adult male citizens number 5040; such a total, he believes, is outrageously large (1265a10 ff., cf. 7.4). (In many other respects, however, there are marked similarities between Magnesia and Aristotle’s best state (Barker [4.71] 380–2).) iii According to Aristotle’s typology of constitutions, aristocracy is the rule of a few virtuous persons over many non-virtuous, but in the common interest. In his own best state the position seems to be subtly different: the aristocrats’ interests are the common interests—simply because there are no other citizens: the aristocrats are the state.<sup>17</sup> That is, there is no body of persons other than themselves with a claim on their strictly political attention. At any rate, Aristotle is quite explicit, indeed emphatic, that all other adult males—agricultural workers (who are preferably to be slaves, 1330a25 ff., cf. 1255b30–40), artisans, and traders (and of course their dependants)—are not ‘parts’ of the state:<sup>18</sup> they are merely its essential conditions. How far this would matter in practice is hard to judge: Aristotle’s aristocrats presumably cannot ignore such people, and have to make some arrangements for their activities and welfare (for example 1331b1–4); and a poor person is not necessarily worse off materially just because he lacks the formal but ambiguous status of ‘citizen’ without the citizen rights of officeholding, etc., except perhaps that Aristotle’s aristocrats can afford to be generous to him less well than historical aristocrats. But there can be no doubt that Aristotle has sharpened the political distinction between citizens and others. iv The cultural and artistic activities Aristotle recommends as pursuits for his citizen aristocrats (book 8) look very different from the huntin’- shootin’-fishin’ engaged in by historical landed aristocrats. v Aristotle allocates the civic functions of his best state by age-groups: as a young man, one’s function is to be a soldier, not to hold political office; later, at some unspecified mature age, one exchanges being ruled (exclusively) for the alternation of being ruled and ruling, and deliberates and judges; in old age one assumes a priesthood (7.9; 1332b25–7). This three-fold division is more systematic than common historical practice; for to deprive arms-bearers of office is remarkable, and Aristotle is at pains to justify it (1329a2 ff., 1332b32 ff.); see further Mulgan ([4.74], 95–6). Aristotle’s best state is therefore both like and unlike historical states. It is something of a hot-house plant, nurtured in the rich soil of natural teleology; for all the above conditions are justified, immediately or implicitly, by an appeal to nature. i In one way or another, nature provides for most of our needs, in sufficient but not excessive quantities; agriculture is an especially natural source of supply (1.8). To seek to acquire endless wealth is a misuse of our faculties, and so unnatural (1258a8–10). ii A small aristocracy is justified on a variety of pragmatic grounds, but notably the danger of a large population making the natural aims of the state hard to achieve because of its sheer size and complexity (7.4– 5). iii Many free men perform only the lowly tasks of manual work, crafts, and trade, which preclude them from virtuous activity and therefore happiness (1323b21–2), and approximate them to slaves (1260a36 ff., 1278a9–11, 20–1, 1328a37–9); and indeed some men are slaves by nature (1.6). iv Cultural pursuits promote virtue (1341b11), which is necessary to happiness, our natural aim. v This sequence follows the dictates of nature: the human body and soul just naturally develop like that—bodily strength when one is young, wisdom when older (cf. 1336b40–1337a3; NE 1094b27 ff.). 2 Trade One prominent category among the non-citizens of the best state is traders. They are recognized as essential to its economic self-sufficiency, but their activities are kept at arm’s length in an area separate from the leisured pursuits of the citizens (1321b12 ff; 7.6, 12). Yet there is a paradox here; for in 1.9–10 (taken with NE 5.5) Aristotle pronounces trade to be unnatural.<sup>19</sup> How then can it be both unnatural and essential? Briefly, Aristotle believes that trade tends to undermine civic order. The key terms in his analysis are acquisition, exchange, proportionality, equality and justice. The natural forms of acquisition are (a) from nature (farming, etc.), (b) by exchange, which beneficially irons out unevennesses in supply: I breed many pigs, you make many shoes; let us therefore exchange pigs for shoes in a certain proportion (6 pairs of shoes for 1 pig, vel sim.); or (c) let me purchase shoes from you using money which I have received in the past from someone else for my pigs, and which I have found it useful to keep, as a mere substitute for goods, until I need your shoes. The proportion in which the pigs and shoes are exchanged between us leaves us equal: each of us is in the same economic position after the transaction as before (each of us ‘has his own’, 1132b11–20), and neither can feel aggrieved. So far, so natural: exchange facilitates the economic life of the polis; ‘by proportionate reciprocity the state endures’.<sup>20</sup> Trade befouls the purity of this model, and not only or primarily because traders are commonly small-minded persons obsessed with maximizing their monetary profit, since they assume (Aristotle claims) that just as the aim of the art of medicine is unlimited health, the aim of the art of acquisition is unlimited wealth; whereas in truth wealth is not an end but a means to life, and life does not require a vast amount of it (1257b25 ff.). His real point is sharper, and is apparently contained in the cryptic statement that the skill of acquisition from trade ‘is justly censured, since it is not in accordance with nature, but is from each other’ (1258b1–2). That is, presumably, the trader’s profit is to the disadvantage of the buyer, who pays more that the ‘proportionate’ value;<sup>21</sup> he comes off worse, and resents it as an injustice; and injustice in general is, according to Aristotle, precisely the deprivation of that which would enable a person to live a virtuous life, in accordance with his natural potentialities; for such a life demands a certain level of material goods.<sup>22</sup> This resentment of injustice can be corrosive of the social and political structure; for it does not make for harmony, homonoia, and friendship, philia (NE 9.6).<sup>23</sup> Usury, Aristotle claims, attracts even greater odium than trade; of all modes of acquisition, it is the most contrary to nature: it is ‘money born of money’. Trade at least achieves that for which money was invented: the exchange of real goods. If this reconstruction of Aristotle’s admittedly problematical texts is correct, his assessment of trade, like his economic theory as a whole, is driven philosophically, by reference to first principles, the natural purposes of the polis; and it draws support from (what he takes to be) common perceptions about equality and justice. Nevertheless, pioneering and radical though he may be in point of theory, he nowhere recommends radicalism in practice; for clearly the suppression of trade would bring any existing state to a stop, and the remedy for the ills generated by traders would be worse than the disease. In his ‘best’ state, trade simply slots into place as the imperfect activity of imperfect persons, who are not fully capable of eudaimonia, but who are essential to the state even if not ‘parts’ of it. How the estates of the aristocrats are to be insulated from trade Aristotle does not say. Presumably their managers would traffic with traders (1255b30–7, 1331a30–b13), and they themselves would not feel resentment concerning profit; they are after all not in a relationship of ‘political justice’ with persons who are not parts of the polis (cf. NE 1134a25 ff.) 3 Slaves<sup>24</sup> From a modern point of view, perhaps the most surprising thing Aristotle says about slavery is that it is a benefit to the slave, doulos. This is because his relationship with his master is symbiotic (cf. 1252a24–34). The master has powers of reason, the slave has them only minimally: ‘he participates in reason so far as to apprehend it but not so far as to possess it’; he wholly lacks deliberative capacity (and therefore eudaimonia, 1280a32; NE 1177a8–9). Presumably this means he can understand the orders he receives, but could not have worked out independently in advance what he should do. His function is manual work, and the performance of essential routine tasks is his benefit to his master, who possesses him as a ‘living tool’ (NE 1161b4), and who benefits him in turn by controlling his life by reason. In a similarly minimal way the slave possesses enough virtue<sup>25</sup> to carry out orders in a willing spirit. Nevertheless, the master who can afford it has little to do with his slaves, and employs an overseer of their work; but he himself should be responsible for inculcating their virtue. Aristotle’s statements about slavery are not always consistent, partly because the several different models (for example master is to slave as soul is to body, or whole to part) by which he attempts to express the essence of slavery and the master-slave relationship seem to have conflicting implications (cf. Smith ([4.95]). More crucially, the relationship of mutual benefit sketched above is undercut elsewhere (1333a3–5; NE 1160b30) by a grimly instrumental one, in which apparently the only benefit is to the master; 1278b32–7 tries to marry the two positions. On the other hand, Aristotle frankly admits that the slave’s ability (presumably thanks to his minimum rationality and virtue) ‘to participate in law and contract’ creates the possibility of friendship between him and his master (1255b12–14; NE 1161b4–6); but even here there is a heavy qualification, that the friendship is ‘not with slave qua slave, but qua man’. Aristotle never questions the justice of the institution itself; but in one complex chapter (1.6), in which he arbitrates in a contemporary controversy about it, he subjects it to sharp restriction. Some people, he reports, assert that slavery is just, on the grounds that what is captured in war belongs to the conqueror; others attack it as unjust, since it is imposed by force. Aristotle thinks both sides are right, and both wrong. Only natural slaves—i.e. persons whose natural mental and physical capacities befit them to be slaves—should be actual slaves; for that is expedient and just. Hence the defenders of slavery are correct up to a point: natural slaves may be forcibly enslaved (cf. 1255b37–39, 1256b23). Conversely, the attackers are also right in part: those who are not slaves by nature ought not to be enslaved. Aristotle in effect admits that some men are slaves who ought not to be, and vice versa. In his own best state, presumably, only natural slaves will be actual slaves (1324b36–41); but how this is to be contrived he does not say. He apparently assumes that natural slaves will breed natural slaves. Nor does he face the obvious possibility that a naturally ‘free’ man, eleutheros, may become slavish by habituation. The point is this. By a clear application of natural teleology Aristotle arrived at a view of slavery which, if anyone had ever tried to put it into effect, would have caused uproar; for at least some slaves—those with high natural potential—would have had to be freed, and some free men—those of low natural talent—would have had to be enslaved. Aristotle lacks such practical reforming zeal; but his ideas are dynamite to the basis of contemporary practice.<sup>26</sup> 4 Women Aristotle’s view of women is in one fundamental and obvious respect the same as his view of slaves; for both are ruled by their natural superiors in point of reason and virtue (1252a31–4, 1254b12–15). Like a slave, a woman needs specific virtues in a form which equips her to fulfil her function (1259b40–1260a24). But the slave needs ‘little’ virtue, whereas the woman (i.e. the free woman, typically the wife of the free male) needs more: she has to be ‘good’ (spoudaia, ‘sound’, 1260b14–19). Unlike the slave, she possesses deliberative capacity—but it is ‘without authority’ (1260a13). The precise nature of the deficiency is unclear; but presumably the man possesses deliberative capacity in some stronger or more synoptic form, which entitles him to overrule her choices (cf. Fortenbaugh [4.80]). There is nothing here to disturb the view of women commonly held by the Athenian male, unless he makes the mistake of treating his wife like a slave (see 1252b4–7). Perhaps more radical in its implications is the remark in 1.12 that a man rules over his wife politikôs, ‘in the manner of a statesman’, ‘as one statesman rules another’. Yet it is important not to over-estimate the significance of this. ‘Political’ rule is over free and equal persons by turns (see pp. 133–4); but, as Aristotle hastens to explain, a woman is not the equal of a man: she is inferior, and therefore never rules, either in state or in household (except presumably over children and slaves). By politikôs Aristotle probably means not merely that a man rules his wife with a concern for her welfare, but accepts that in so doing he is one rational agent dealing with another, who needs persuasion, not orders. This is a considerable corrective to any view of women as essentially emotional and witless things (there is plenty of such prejudice on display in Greek literature). At any rate, Aristotle sees an important continuity between a man’s treatment of his fellow-citizens in the public arena and his treatment of his wife in the private. CONCLUSION Natural teleology, then, makes Aristotle a far more potent challenger to contemporary ethical values and political practices than he may appear to a reader who merely notices that often enough the teleology endorses them. But even then, it is not intrinsic to natural teleology that it should confer approval on the status quo unquestioningly. For instance, so far from challenging the institutions of the private household and of private property, he vigorously condemns Plato’s proposal to abolish them for his Philosopher-Guardians of the Republic (Politics 2.1–5). He subjects both to critical examination, and pronounces both conducive to happiness.<sup>27</sup> But Aristotle faces three linked problems: (1) He assumes that, in some sense pertinent to the achievement of happiness in activity, the nature of each individual man is the same, variations being deficiencies in the ideal. He cannot accept that someone with (say) a natural bent towards manual work has a nature as effective for achieving happiness as the nature of someone with a natural bent towards politics or philosophy. (2) Even if we grant his assumption, however, deciding precisely what human characteristics or activities are natural can seem arbitrary; and some of his attempts to distinguish them are to say the least more plausible than others (cf. p. 116). (3) Why has nature a special status? Can we not seek to rise above it? Why do we assume that nature is best for us? If we need not assume that, then as Keyt ([4.70], 147) has neatly put it, ‘The bedrock upon which Aristotle’s theory comes to rest is also the rock on which it founders.’ Nevertheless, nature as a standard of conduct has a seductive allure: it seems to be sure and fixed, and to offer an unchallengeable alternative to ethical and political relativism, liberalism, and individualism, and in fact to any creed that in principle not merely tolerates but encourages a plurality of values and practices in an ‘open’ society. It is for this reason that some modern communitarians, for example MacIntyre [4.89], have looked to Aristotle for inspiration and support (cf. p. 123). Now communitarians are a rather various school, but their core belief is that it is essential to the mental health of the individual and to the cohesion of society that the latter should espouse some single moral, social and political tenet, or coherent set of tenets, with a range of reciprocal rights and duties derivable therefrom. For a single tenet (or set) can be shared across a whole society; conflicting tenets cannot (cf. 1253a15–18). For these purposes Aristotle’s natural teleology is ready-made. For one has only to assume a single human nature, and lay out a set of social and political structures and relationships based (allegedly) on what man essentially is. But obviously that singleness does not have to be either ‘natural’ or specifically Aristotelian. NOTES 1 Good discussions of Aristotle’s ‘best’ state are Mulgan [4.74] 78–101, and Huxley [4.82]. 2 For accessible overviews of the problems of structure see Keyt and Miller [4. 70] and Rowe [4.93]. 3 On the biological dimension in Aristotle’s political thought, see Mulgan [4. 92], Kullmann [4.87]; on Aristotle and Darwinian biology, Arnhart [4.75]. 4 Some crucial texts: 1280b29 ff., 1323b21 ff., 1325a7–10, b23–32, 1332a3–7; 8.1. The whole issue, too large for consideration here, is debated by Barnes and Sorabji [4.77], and by Miller ([4.91] 191–251). For related questions of political rights and duties in Aristotle, see in general Everson [4.79], Miller [4. 91]; on the resolution of conflict, Yack [4.96]. 5 1289a1–7. One has to say ‘implicit’ recommendations, because although the purpose of political knowledge is action (NE 1094b27 ff.), Aristotle does not on the whole give direct advice to statesmen ‘in the field’ on how to set about tactically the amelioration of an imperfect state or constitution. He sets targets, or approximations to them (cf. pp. 112–13), and shows that policy or practice or situation a will achieve them, and b will not; and he then assumes that statesmen, after reading the Politics, will choose a not b. But the ‘true’ statesman needs more than empirical rules of thumb: he needs to grasp the first principles of ‘political knowledge’, notably of how politics embraces ethics (NE 1.1–2; 1102a5 ff., 10.9; cf. pp. 113, 118). 8). 6 For most of his historical evidence he presumably relied on the research reports, compiled in the Lyceum, of the constitutions of Greek states (see NE 1181b17). There were 158 ‘Constitutions’, but only one survives, and only in part: The Constitution of the Athenians. 7 For an analysis of Aristotle’s application of this slippery adjective, see Miller ([4.91] 191–213). 8 The tangled (and controversial) relationships between these three are investigated by Robinson ([4.66b] 99–103), Mulgan ([4.74] 76–7), and Johnson ([4.85] 143–54) 9 That is, by ‘geometrical’ equality (equality for equals, inequality for unequals, cf. 1325b7–10), not ‘arithmetical’ equality (for example one man one vote): see Harvey [4.81]. 10 ‘Executive’ office seems assumed. Aristotle discusses various difficulties in the definitions, which may be passed over here. ‘Judging’ refers to courts, with or without popular juries; what we would now call ‘civil’ and ‘criminal’ cases often had political importance. 11 ‘Statesman’ is obviously a bad translation, but it is sanctioned by usage. ‘Politician’ is misleading, since it suggests professionalism. 12 Strictly, a tyrant or king would be the sole citizen; persons delegated to particular duties of ruling would not have authority in their own right. 13 There are some problems here, for example (a) What is one to do with one’s phronêsis when being ruled? (b) Is the reciprocity of ruling and being ruled consistent with Aristotle’s preference for an ideal monarchy? (c) What is the relationship between the ‘contemplative’ life and the ‘active’ life of a politikos? See 7.2–3 and pp. 117–18 above. 14 1279a35–7, where the alternative etymology, ‘because [it looks to] the best for the state’, seems improbable. 15 Indeed, Johnson ([4.85] 15 5–69) argues that the ‘best state’ is in fact the ‘middle’ constitution of 4.11. Cf. Huxley [4.81], Kraut [4.66d] 52. 16 At any rate, to judge from 1295a25 ff., 1324a23–5, NE 1099b18–20. Aristotle is also aware of the practical dangers of a ‘shortage of men’: 1278a26–34, 1299a31-b13, 1326b2–3; cf. 1297b26; but contrast NE 1171a6–8. (Greek poleis were in size much more like our towns or even villages than like our cities; Athens, which had c.30,000 adult male citizens in the fourth century, was ‘off the scale’.) 17 1332a34–5: ‘for us/for our purposes’ (i.e. the best state) ‘all the citizens share in the constitution.’ But artisans etc. do not so share; therefore they are not citizens, even in a technical attenuated sense—or so it seems. 18 7.9. It is this point that formally exempts Aristotle’s constitution from the charge of being itself a ‘deviated’ constitution, as pursuing its members’ interests only; for there are no other interests embraced by the state for it to pursue. 19 I assume what I argue in Saunders ([4.66a] 88–90), that these three chapters essentially cohere, though they are different in immediate preoccupation. The following two paragraphs are a bald summary of my extended discussion there. For a complete analysis of Aristotle’s economics see Meikle [4.90]. 20 Aristotle assumes, and in NE 5.5 tries to identify, a fixed basis of commensurability; but he fails. As a sighting shot, he suggests ‘need’. 21 Hence, in modern terms, while Aristotle recognizes in a commodity both usevalue and exchange-value, and possibly labour-value (1258b25), he fails to acknowledge the value of distribution as a legitimate charge on the buyer. 22 NE 1099a31 ff., 1129b17–19; on justice, see Miller [4.91], esp. chs 3 and 4. 23 On ‘political’ friendship, i.e. as between one politês or politikos and another, co-operating in the purposes of the polis, see Cooper and Annas [4.78]. 24 Except where otherwise indicated, this section is based on material in 1.3–7 and 13. 25 That is, the virtue of being ruled, not of ruling; master and slave possess different virtues, which are not on the same scale; see Saunders ([4.66a] 98– 100). 26 Schofield ([4.94] 11) puts the same point more gently, in an excellent discussion of the relationship between Aristotle’s ‘ideology’ (in a ‘broadly Marxist’ sense of the word) of slavery and his philosophical analysis of it. 27 Private property he defends by an intriguing combination of economic, social, and psychological reasons: Irwin ([4.83] 200–25), Miller ([4.91] 321– 5), Saunders ([4.66a] 118–20). But he imposes certain conditions, notably a considerable degree of common use: 1263a21 ff., 1329b39–1330a2. BIBLIOGRAPHY ETHICS Original language editions 4.1 Bywater, J. (ed.), Ethica Nicomachea, Oxford, Clarendon, 1894. 4.2 Walzer, R.R. and Mingay, J.M., Ethica Eudemia, Oxford, Clarendon, 1991. Commentaries 4.3 Burnet, J., The Ethics of Aristotle, London, Methuen, 1900. 4.4 Grant, A., The Ethics of Aristotle, 2 vols, London, Longmans, 1885. 4.5 Woods, M., Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics, Books 1, 2 and 8 (see [1.35]). English translations 4.6 Eudemian Ethics, trans. Solomon, in [1.3]. 4.7 Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Irwin, T., Indianapolis, Hackett, 1985. General works 4.8 Barnes, J., Schofield, M. and Sorabji, R. (eds), Articles on Aristotle, vol. 2 (see [1.53]). 4.9 Broadie, S., Ethics With Aristotle, New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1991. 4.10 Hardie, W.F.R., Aristotle’s Ethical Theory, 2nd edn, Oxford, Clarendon, 1980. 4.11 Irwin, T., Aristotle’s First Principles, Oxford, Clarendon, 1988. 4.12 Kenny, A., The Aristotelian Ethics: A Study of the Relationship between the Eudemian and Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1978. 4.13 Rorty, A. (ed.), Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1980. 4.14 Urmson, J.O., Aristotle’s Ethics, Oxford, Blackwell, 1988. Method 4.15 Barnes, J., ‘Aristotle’s Method of Ethics’, Revue Internationale de Philosophie 34 1981, 490–511. 4.16 Owen, G.E.L., ‘Tithenai ta Phainomena’, in S.Mansion (ed.) [1.42], and Barnes, J., Schofield, M., Sorabji, R. (eds), [1.53] vol. 1, 113–26. 4.17 Roche, T.D., ‘On the Alleged Metaphysical Foundation of Aristotle’s Ethics’, Ancient Philosophy 8 1988, 51–62. Happiness 4.18 Ackrill, J.L., ‘Aristotle on Eudaimonia’, Proceedings of the British Academy 60, 1974; repr. in Rorty [4.13] 15–33. 4.19 Cooper, J., Reason and Human Good in Aristotle, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1975. 4.20 Crisp, R., ‘Aristotle’s Inclusivism’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 10, 1994, 111–36. 4.21 Glassen, P., ‘A Fallacy in Aristotle’s Argument about the Good’, Philosophical Quarterly 7, 1957, 319–22. 4.22 Kraut, R., Aristotle on the Human Good, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1989. 4.23 Kenny, A., Aristotle on the Perfect Life, Oxford, Clarendon, 1992. 4.24 Keyt, D., ‘Intellectualism in Aristotle’, Paideia Special Issue 1978; repr. in Anton, J.P. and Preus, A. (eds), Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1983, 364–87. 4.25 McDowell, J., ‘The Role of Eudaimonia in Aristotle’s Ethics’, Proceedings of the African Classical Association 15, 1980; repr. in Rorty [4.13], 359–76. 4.26 Moline, J., ‘Contemplation and the Human Good’, Nous 17, 1983, 37–53. Virtue and the doctrine of the mean 4.27 Barnes, J., ‘Introduction’, in Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Thomson, J.A.K., Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1976, 9–43. 4.28 Hursthouse, R., ‘A False Doctrine of the Mean’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 81, 1980–81, 57–72. 4.29 Hutchinson, D.S., The Virtues of Aristotle, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986. 4.30 Joseph, H.W.B., ‘Aristotle’s Definition of Moral Virtue and Plato’s Account of Justice in the Soul’, Philosophy 9, 1934; repr. in his Essays on Ancient Philosophy, Oxford, Clarendon, 1935, 156–77. 4.31 Losin, P., ‘Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean’, History of Philosophy Quarterly 4, 1987, 329–41. 4.32 Nussbaum, M.C., ‘Non-relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach’, in French, P.A., Uehling, T.E. and Wettstein, H.K. (eds), Midwest Studies in Philosophy 13: Ethical Theory: Character and Virtue, University of Notre Dame Press, 32–53. 4.33 Pears, D., ‘Courage as a Mean’, in Rorty [4.13] 171–87. 4.34 Sherman, N., The Fabric of Character, Oxford, Clarendon, 1989. 4.35 Williams, B., ‘Acting as the Virtuous Person Acts’, in R.Heinaman (ed.), Aristotle and Moral Realism, London, UCL Press, 1995, 13–23. Other central topics in NE 4.36 Burnyeat, M., ‘Aristotle on Learning to be Good’, in Rorty [4.13], 69–92. 4.38 Cooper, J., ‘Friendship and the Good’, Philosophical Review 86, 1977; repr. as ‘Aristotle on Friendship’ in Rorty [4.13], 301–340. 4.39 Furley, D., ‘Aristotle on the Voluntary’, in Barnes, Schofield and Sorabji (eds) [1.53], 47–60. 4.40 Gosling, J. and Taylor, C.C.W., The Greeks on Pleasure, Oxford, Clarendon, 1982. 4.41 Owen, G.E.L., ‘Aristotelian Pleasures’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 72 (1971–2); repr. in Barnes, Schofield and Sorabji (eds.) [1.53], 92–103. 4.42 Price, A., Love and Friendship in Plato and Aristotle, Oxford, Clarendon, 1989. 4.43 Sorabji, R., Necessity, Cause and Blame, London, Duckworth, 1980. 4.44 Wiggins, D., ‘Weakness of Will, Commensurability, and the Objects of Deliberation and Desire’, in his Needs, Values, Truth, 2nd edn, Oxford, Blackwell, 1991, 239–67. 4.45 Williams, B., ‘Justice as a Virtue’, in Rorty [4.13], 189–99. Aristotle and modern ethics 4.46 Anscombe, G.E.M., ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’, Philosophy 33, 1958, 1– 19. 4.47 Cottingham, J., ‘Partiality and the Virtues’, in Crisp, R. (ed.), How Should One Live?, Oxford, Clarendon, 1996, 57–76. 4.48 Foot, P., Virtues and Vices, Oxford, Blackwell, 1978. 4.49 Hursthouse, R., Beginning Lives, Oxford, Blackwell, 1987. 4.50 MacIntyre, A., After Virtue, London, Duckworth, 1981. 4.51 McDowell, J., ‘Virtue and Reason’, Monist 62, 1979, 331–50. 4.52 Rawls, J., A Theory of Justice, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1971. 4.53 Wallace, J., Virtues and Vices, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1978. 4.54 Wiggins, D., ‘Deliberation and Practical Reason’, in his Needs, Values, Truth, 2nd edn, Oxford, Blackwell, 1991, 215–37. 4.55 Williams, B., Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, London, Fontana, 1985. POLITICS Greek text 4.60 Ross, W.D., Aristotelis Politica, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1957. Translations 4.61 Saunders, T.J., Aristotle, The Politics (trans. T.A.Sinclair, rev. T.J.S.), Harmondsworth, Penguin Classics, 1981. 4.62 Stalley, R.F., Aristotle, The Politics (trans. E.Barker, rev. R.F.S.), Oxford, World’s Classics, 1995. 4.63 Reeve, C.D.C., Aristotle, Politics, Indianopolis/Cambridge, Hackett Publishing Company, 1998. Commentary with Greek text 4.64 Newman, W.L., The Politics of Aristotle, 4 vols, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1887–1902. Commentary with German translation 4.65 Schütrumpf, E., Aristoteles: Politik, vol. 1 (containing book 1), Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 1991; vol. 2 (containing books 2 and 3), Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1991; vol. 3 (containing books 4–6) with H.-J.Gehrke, Berlin, Academie Verlag, 1996. Commentaries with English translation 4.66a Saunders, T.J., Aristotle, Politics, Books 1 and 2, Oxford, Clarendon Aristotle Series, 1995 [1.36]. 4.66b Robinson, R., Aristotle, Politics, Books 3 and 4, Oxford, Clarendon Aristotle Series, 1962 (repr. with supplementary essay by D.Keyt, 1995) [1.36]. 4.66c Keyt, D., Aristotle, Politics, Books 5 and 6, Oxford, Clarendon Aristotle Series, 1999 [1.36]. 4.66d Kraut, R., Aristotle, Politics, Books 7 and 8, Oxford, Clarendon Aristotle Series, 1997 [1.36]. Bibliographies In Saunders [4.61] and [4.66a], Stalley [4.62], Reeve [4.63], Schütrumpf [4. 65], Robinson [4.66b], Keyt [4.66c], Kraut [4.66d], and in Barnes [1.38], Keyt and Miller [4.70], and Miller [4.91] below. Comprehensive critical bibliography: 4.67 Touloumakos, J., ‘Aristoteles’ “Politik”, 1925–1985’, Lustrum 32 (1990), 177–282, 35 (1993), 181–289; in progress. Collections of essays 4.68 Barnes, J., see [1.53] vol. 2. 4.69 Patzig, G. (ed.) see, [1.51]. 4.70 Keyt, D. and Miller, F.D., A Companion to Aristotle’s ‘Politics’, Oxford and Cambridge, Mass., Blackwell, 1991. Influence of the Politics 4.71 Barker, E., The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle, London, Methuen, 1906, 497–522. 4.72 Dunbabin, J., ‘The reception and interpretation of Aristotle’s Politics’, in Kretzmann, N. et al. (eds), The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1982, 723–37. 4.73 Langholm, O., The Aristotelian Analysis of Usury, Bergen, Universitetsforlaget, 1984. General account 4.74 Mulgan, R.G., Aristotle’s Political Theory, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1977. Books and articles 4.75 Arnhart, L., ‘The Darwinian biology of Aristotle’s political animals’, American Journal of Political Science 38 (1994), 464–85. 4.76 Barker, E., Greek Political Theory: Plato and his Predecessors, 4th edn, London, Methuen, 1951. 4.77 Barnes, J., ‘Aristotle and political liberty’, in Patzig [1.51], 249–63, with comments by R. Sorabji: ‘State power: Aristotle and fourth century philosophy’, 264–76. 4.78 Cooper, J.M., ‘Political animals and civic friendship’, in Patzig [1.51], 220– 41, with comments by J. Annas, 242–8. 4.79 Everson, S., ‘Aristotle on the foundations of the state’, Political Studies 36 (1988), 89–101. 4.80 Fortenbaugh, W.W., ‘Aristotle on slaves and women’, in Barnes, Schofield and Sorabji [1.53] vol. 2, 135–9. 4.81 Harvey, F.D., ‘Two kinds of equality’, Classica et Mediaevalia 26 (1965), 101–46; 27 (1965), 99–100. 4.82 Huxley, G., ‘On Aristotle’s best state’, in Cartledge, P. and Harvey, F.D. (eds), Crux: Essays presented to G.E.M. de Ste. Croix on his 75th birthday, Exeter, Imprint Academic, 1985, 139–49. 4.83 Irwin, T.H., ‘Aristotle’s defence of private property’, in Keyt and Miller [4. 70] 200–25. Original version in Social Philosophy and Policy, 4 (1987), 37– 54. 4.84 Jaeger, W., Aristotle: Fundamentals of the History of his Development, 2nd edn, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1948. 4.85 Johnson, C., Aristotle’s Theory of the State, London, Macmillan, 1990. 4.86 Keyt, D., ‘Three basic theorems in Aristotle’s Politics’, in Keyt and Miller [4. 70] 118–41. Original version in Phronesis 32 (1987), 54–79. 4.87 Kullmann, W., ‘Man as a political animal in Aristotle’, in Keyt and Miller [4. 70] 94–117. 4.88a Lloyd, G.E.R., ‘The idea of nature in the Politics’, in his Aristotelian Explorations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996, 184–204. Original version (in French) in Aubenque, P. and Tordessillas, A. (eds), Aristotle, Politique, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1993, 135–59. 4.88b Lord, C., Education and Culture in the Political Thought of Aristotle, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1982. 4.89 MacIntyre, A., After Virtue, London, Duckworth, 1981. 4.90 Meikle, S., Aristotle’s Economic Thought, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995. 4.91 Miller, F.D., Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle’s ‘Politics’, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995. 4.92 Mulgan, R.G., ‘Aristotle’s doctrine that man is a political animal’, Hermes 102 (1974), 438–45. 4.93 Rowe, C.J., ‘Aims and methods in Aristotle’s Politics’, in Keyt and Miller [4. 70] 57–74. Original version in Classical Quarterly 27 (1977), 159–72. 4.94 Schofield, M., ‘Ideology and philosophy in Aristotle’s theory of slavery’, in Patzig [1.51] 1–27 (with comments by C.H.Kahn, 28–31). 4.95 Smith, N.D., ‘Aristotle’s theory of natural slavery’, in Keyt and Miller [4.70] 142–55. Originally in Phoenix 37 (1983), 109–22. 4.96 Yack, B., The Problems of a Political Animal: Community, Justice and Conflict in Aristotelian Political Thought, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1993.
Routledge History of Philosophy. Taylor & Francis e-Library. 2005.