Week 6 Aristotle 2This WeekPolitics Book (2), 3, 4, 5 (ch. 5-9), 6(ch.1-6), 7 (ch. 1-3, 13-15)Book 2 is Aristotle’s criticism of Plato.Book 3 deals mainly with the nature of citizen and different constitutions.Book 4-6 deal with detailed, historical analysis of different poleis.Book 2Aristotle’s criticism of Plato- Aristotle’s criticism of Plato is oftentimes based on somewhat inaccurate reading of Plato.“As usual when dealing with the ideas of his predecessors, Aristotle is not concerned to interpret them accurately and sympathetically but simply uses them as a starting-point for developing his own arguments”. (comment by Mulgan taken from Klosko) - Nevertheless, the core of Aristotle’s criticism demonstrates the differences between Aristotle’s and Plato’s political philosophy.1) Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s extreme unity- According to Aristotle, Plato’s just city aims for extreme unity.- Holding women and children in common, no possession of private property, show Plato’s desire for unity- Aristotle says the polis consists of people of different kinds. - Polis is a plurality with differentiation between its parts- For example, there is a division of labor in the state that is necessary for economic functions.1
Week 6 Aristotle 2- Plato want to reduce the polis to total unity which would eliminate the different functions and, ultimately, destroy the polis.- As the polis moves from plurality to unity, it ceases to be a polis and becomes a household and then an individual2) Impracticality of Plato’s ideas- Unlike to Plato’s assumption, people care less about the shared goods.- People care more about their own property and less about the shared property.Holding women and children in common- If one does not have his wife and children, he will care less about them. Instead oftreating everyone as his family, he will be less interested in others’ welfare.- The love that we feel for our parents and children is natural and necessary- Aristotle says this will merely water down the feelings of affection that we have for our families- Even if we imply communism, people will recognize their children because they take after their parents.Shared properties- In the same manner, sharing land and properties in common is impractical- The more numerous the owners of a thing, the less they will care about it- So, under this arrangement, the economic base of the polis will not be as productive- Sharing properties also take a way virtue from peoplePeople enjoy providing hospitality to others, which would not be possible without private property.- Property should be owned privately, but open to communal use2
Week 6 Aristotle 2- e.g. Spartans use each other’s slaves, horses, and dogs- They also gather provisions from other people’s fields when on a journeyPlato as radical and Aristotle as empiricist- Some scholars think that the differences between Plato and Aristotle represent the contrast between a political idealist (radicals) and empiricist (moderates, conservatives).