Politics | Study Guide


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Politics | Summary



Politics is organized into eight books. In each, Aristotle begins with a guiding question related to political structures and the best way to pursue a life of virtue. The first book focuses on how communities are organized. Aristotle believes people are political animals driven to organize and create the best means of existence. The smallest form of organization is the household, led by a man; he is master over women, children, and slaves. Households join to form a community, and groups of communities form a city.

In the second book Aristotle begins to explore which regime is optimal for a city. Aristotle uses evidence of previous regimes throughout history, mostly to show what not to do. The third book looks at who can be a citizen and at citizens' role in a regime. Here Aristotle also discusses the different types of monarchies: monarchy, absolute monarchy, barbarian, and dictator.

The fourth book analyzes different types of democracies and oligarchies. It also introduces polity, which combines elements of democracy and oligarchy. Aristotle says polity can be the highest form of government. The fifth book reviews how regimes can change through overthrow and revolutions. Aristotle also discusses strategies to prevent such turmoil, such as silencing unrest and providing resources for the people. He names tyranny as the least stable form of government. The sixth book continues the exploration of oligarchies and democracies and what can be learned from both.

The seventh and eighth books discuss what the best regime might look like. Aristotle outlines the ideal environment for a regime: access to sea, good land, water, north-facing. He also discusses what type of marriage—monogamous, heterosexual—produces the best children. The eighth book focuses on how children should be educated to positively contribute to the state. Education should include letters, gymnastics, music, and drawing.

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