I personally find it tough to do any sort of a review on the classics, as just about everything that can be said about a 2400 year old treatise has probably been said However, like scripture, everyone has their own interpretation of these kinds of documents from antiquity The interpretations, like any reading, have to do with the culture and time in which one was raised, the society and government around them, as well as one s age and any previous influential readings and or life experience These previous influences allow a horizontal approach to interpretation, where one incorporates many different impressions into the present document The Politics of Aristotle is a link in the evolutionary process of social and political development Like Plato s Republic , Aristotle considers the concept of justice in this treatise First, we must define justice, and then we must figure out the best way to enact justice It is important to remember when dealing with the classics that we are looking at an attempt to tie down a universal itself a tricky word into a specific place and time Everyone generally agrees that justice is what is right However, conditioning of various types will influence HOW justice looks when pen is put to paper.The area in which I believe Aristotle to have the greatest wisdom is in his descriptions of human nature and how to approach justice WITH this human nature in mind Men who don t have control of their own passions will fail to serve their own interests We always prefer what we come across first Men are always wanting something and are never content until they get to infinity Ambition and avarice are exactly the motives which lead men to commit nearly all intentional crimes Through my recent dialogue with those residing in the East, it is apparent to me that much of Western philosophy is late in its realization of some universal truths The conflict of opposites is a universal concept Moderation as a necessity for goodness is a universal concept This would coincide with the idea of Non dualism that has been around for thousands of years in the Far East Aristotle attempts to broach these topics through of an exterior view For example, he uses the analogy of the perfection of the nose A nose that is extremely straight, or extremely symmetrical in all areas would eventually become so extreme as to not even appear to be a nose It would morph into something else, if you will That is an example of dualistic thinking Extremes in anything produce the opposite of what one is trying to achieve Moderation, looking at all sides of an issue, eradicating dogmatic thinking, are all ways to avoid these extremes.Modern Capitalistic thought has grasped onto Aristotle s ideas of distributive justice, aristocracy, and his negation or downplaying of apparent class conflicts to justify certain actions What Aristotle has not and could not consider is all the complexities of modern times Race, a global economy, and our current belief in the equality of ALL men do not mix with Aristotelian thought Plato had a much better grasp on class conflict with the idea of the state being TWO states that of the rich and that of the poor Although Aristotle DID acknowledge that Poverty is the cause of the defects of democracy He adds That is why measures should be taken to ensure a permanent level of prosperity The eloquence of describing the life of the interior is perhaps the part of The Politics which struck me the greatest Thought is an activity as much as action itself, and it may even be of an activity than action is The self contained individualmay be busily active the activity of God and the universe is that of a self contained life This statement coincided well with one that Aristotle had mentioned in Rhetoric , where he states that The I am by myself and alone, the fonder I have become of myths This seems to indicate that Aristotle may have had an idea, even if he couldn t name it, of the inherent need for a god image in the nature of man.Philosophy as defined by the ancient Greeks IS wisdom Therefore it is in itself a universal as wisdom is all encompassing Man s attempt to make sense of universals containing many expressions is one of the great challenges of living For me, it has also brought about the realization that we are all looking for the same thing in the end Approaching others WITH that knowledge is conducive to dialogue and to greater understanding which creates a better life for all of us. An interesting treatise, but I can see why only those interested in political theory return to it. Despite the warnings and protests that I have received from goodreads friends about reading Aristotle s politics into our current political situations and vice versa, I will attempt to do just that in this review unapologetically Obviously, I am well aware that Aristotle lived over 2300 years ago indeed, I would have to be pretty ignorant to be reading him to this degree and not be aware of that fact I have now completed almost his whole corpus minus his zoological writings and his Eudemian Ethics Also, I am fully aware that societal conditions do change, in both subtle and not so subtle ways I am always amazed though at a particular tendency of some people to consider anything than a few decades old to be pass and obsolete I am sure my goodreads friends are not guilty of this degree of naivety I remember debating someone on the American founding fathers and whether their ideas were still relevant to our current political situations Yes, someone was actually taking the position that the founding father s views on the republic they formed were not relevant today This is obviously an extreme example of how clueless people can be when it comes to ideas and their relationship to progress My feeling is that if you are arguing that past thinkers held demonstrably different ideas when they spoke about freedom, equality, rights, laws, ethics etc etc et al then you are simply playing a game of equivocation and using time as an accomplice in your charade I know my goodreads friends are not this extreme at least I hope Why read philosophy if one considers its ideas to have a shelf life There are certainly practical uses of one s time if this were the case I am cognizant of the warnings my friends provided and those warnings are not without merit, but with the preceding introduction, hopefully, I have provided a defense for the following review The review itself should also make clear where Aristotle s ideas are still relevant I am certainly willing to debate the merits of Benjamin Jowett s translation because I am taking it as correct The burden of proof though is on the person who questions Jowett s translation it is on them to present the Greek words and the English terms that they consider correct than his rendering I won t take seriously textual criticisms that don t offer evidence and source material for substantiation Saying someone claimed something about Aristotle that can t be substantiated is not an argument as far as I am concerned If one provides sources and evidence, I will certainly take it seriously.I want to first off address one issue that was brought forth in a comment Aristotle and Plato did not have any experience of the exact kind of democracy we know of today Aristotle believed in equality, but it was an equality of similars, i.e only men of a certain status were accepted as citizens Sharing in that similar condition qualified them as equals It wasn t equality based on humanity alone Slaves, women, and children were not included in citizenship in the Greek city states and Aristotle did indeed follow this precedent That is certainly one way that democracy has changed Of course, these changes were made relatively recently Basing equality on being human alone is an element that was added to democratic ideals subsequently one should probably note that Christian ethics was largely the influence behind this innovation There were, however, reasons for including status e.g owning wealth property, military service, etc into questions of citizenship in Aristotle s day That is something I am going to get into below when I talk about the dangers of democracy that have always existed That is not to say that I support the ancient Greek perspective on this question Clearly, it doesn t matter what the political system is when one falls into the category of the disenfranchised listed above all systems would be tyrannical in that case Any system that does not take into account inherent human value into questions of equality is a system that is not at all just except in an equivocal sense One should note that there is absolutely no question that all political systems in the West including here in America are rooted in a Greco Roman precedent This is as undeniable as that our ethics and morals not to mention religious ideals are rooted in a Judeo Christian precedent I am certainly of the opinion that those who first wrote on these topics still have something to teach us and those ideas are often still applicable I read the Bible because I believe it s morals and ethics are entirely relevant for us As we move further away from the preceding, the worse society will be In like manner, the earliest writers on the political systems that inspired ours are still entirely relevant People often do not have much of a grasp of what occurred in the Greek city states The Greeks experimented with different forms of government These weren t just topics that they debated in writing, they were lived out I cannot stress this enough The political systems that are referred to in Plato and Aristotle removing the speculative elements they added were tested Humanity hasn t changed that much in 2300 years For an example as I mentioned in my review to Cicero s On Moral Duties , Socialism Communism is not a new idea Aristotle was aware that one potential abuse of democracy was when some demagogue promised the disenfranchised that he would take the money and or property from the wealthy and give it to them if they supported him I will provide quotes below Obviously, even if one didn t have property, it didn t necessarily mean that in an ancient democracy that one had no recourse to gaining political power Aristotle was very wary of the kind of political abuses that were possible within a democracy He believed as did Cicero that every person should be respected in their property Not respecting the property rights of people was a sure way to bring about revolution Is this no longer a problem in our American republic If you think that, guess again If a party is harboring socialists that do not respect the above fundamental human right of property, you know the same situation that Aristotle and Cicero wrote about is possible even today Aristotle mentions in than one place that democracies often descend into very specific abuses Often it came in the form of some politician scapegoating the well to do This is exemplified in the following quote From democracy tyrants have borrowed the art of making war upon the notables and destroying them secretly or openly, or of exiling them because they are rivals and stand in the way of their power and also because plots against them are contrived by men of this class, who either want to rule or escape subjection This applies also to those who are wealthy as Aristotle also makes clear Revolutions in democracies are generally caused by the intemperance of demagogues, who either in their private capacity lay information against rich men until they compel them to combine or coming forward in public they stir up the people against them Of course, the above has been a notable element of communist and socialist countries in the modern world This is a risk of democracy He noted numerous examples where democracy would shift into oligarchy and back again all eventually descending into tyranny Aristotle was incredibly critical of a pure democracy This is where the majority have absolute control over the minority Aristotle calls this the worst form of tyranny In a pure democracy, 51% of the people have absolute control over 49% of the people Interestingly enough, the percentages just provided are pretty close to what we have here between Liberals and Conservatives respectively not taking into account moderates like myself in America Unsurprisingly, many of those connected to the American political party that takes it s name from democracy, often do support pure democratic ideals, where even the Constitution and the Bill of Rights should be open to popular vote The mitigating control to this pure democracy is what Aristotle calls the constitutional government He includes the constitutional government under the heading of democracy, but he undoubtedly considered them distinct The constitutional government is what we would term today a constitutional republic technically, democracy and republic are the same in ancient Greek sources, but in modern parlance they are distinct This is what we have here in the United States Indeed, Aristotle saw this as the best form of government This is exemplified by the following quote For two principles are characteristic of democracy, the government of the majority and freedom Men think that what is just is equal and that equality is the supremacy of the popular will and that freedom and equality mean the doing what a man likes In such democracies every one lives as he pleases, or in the words of Euripides, according to his fancy But this is all wrong men should not think it slavery to live according to the rule of the constitution for it is their salvation Aristotle saw that a balance needed to be struck between law i.e constitution and freedom i.e democracy Losing this balance can be catastrophic as this following quote make clear Oligarchy or democracy, although a departure from the most perfect form, may yet be a good enough government, but if any one attempts to push the principles of either to an extreme, he will begin by spoiling the government and end by having none at all for when by laws carried to excess one or other element in the state is ruined, the constitution is ruined Aristotle knew full well that pure democracies gave way to anarchy and then to oligarchy He was suspicious of democracies for this reason In democracies, everyone wants to be equal, but in the words of George Orwell, some want to be equal than others Part of the problem for Aristotle and other political thinkers of his day was to develop a system that would minimize, if not eliminate, inequities in a populace, and allow them a role in government, without sacrificing competent voices for less competent voices This may appear shocking, but one should keep in mind that in Aristotle s point of view, not everyone was equally competent to share in government, even if he were to grant that everyone is equal as far as the category of species goes Obviously, the ancient Greek attempt to minimize incompetent say in government is not correct, but one has to at the same time acknowledge that a vast percentage of the population that exists in any society and in any period of time are not competent enough to have any political power Very few people in a given population are knowledgeable enough to have an informed opinion on government Aristotle, with other Greeks, probably assumed if one had gained a certain position or status, it indicated competence men were seen as competent mentally than women slaves lacked the status and education to be citizens children were not yet competent prior to proper education Education was seen as being fundamental to Aristotle s view of governmental longevity I provide this quote of Aristotle as an example of his position But of all the things which I have mentioned, that which most contributes to the permanence of constitutions is the adaptation of education to the form of government, and yet in our day this principle is universally neglected We need to appreciate that Greeks like Aristotle were concerned about the rule of an ignorant populace We must acknowledge this while also condemning their attempts at controlling this through such an unjust method Aristotle seems to acknowledge above that even those who were citizens were often ignorant A tyranny of the majority happens when a populace is too ignorant and too self seeking to make sound political decisions The American founding fathers set up a very particular system to curb the tyranny of the majority Ignorant factions of a country can easily become tribalist and disinterested in the health of society as a whole This is a precursor to social unrest and civil war, i.e what Aristotle terms revolution What happens, for instance, when a disenfranchised group gains citizenship and every societal benefit that comes with citizenship For some of these, this development will be seen as an adequate if not an optimal outcome For others, it will simply not be good enough They may then insist that they need special rights that other citizens don t enjoy for them to feel equal and to make up for any feelings of past societal marginalization Aristotle says this The universal and chief cause of this revolutionary feeling has been mentioned already viz The desire of equality, when men think that they are equal to others that have than themselves or, again, the desire of inequality and superiority, when conceiving themselves to be superior they think that they have not but the same or less than their inferiors pretensions which may or may not be just Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior Aristotle attributed the revolutionary feeling to these factors that do not need to be based in reality they only need to be perceived as true What is at play here The same ignorant human tendency Cicero also took note of the tendency of people to be self seeking and concerned with superiority and not equality, even when claiming that they are only seeking equality Once equality is attained, the wise and good will consider this adequate, but those who are neither wise nor good will not consider this adequate This is not an archaic and inapplicable human tendency, it is still very much present in democracies Pure democracy is mob rule Can a democracy be a healthy breeding ground for political parties that harbor socialists, communists and anarchists Indeed, it can Having a constitution is a safeguard against these kinds of corrupting influences Aristotle was also concerned about the wearing away of a constitution Removing tenets little by little over time Aristotle says Again, the revolution may be accomplished by small degrees I mean that a great change may sometimes slip into the constitution through neglect of a small matter And again says in relation to Aristocratic constitutional government I doubt he would consider the effects to be any different than in a democratic constitutional government The citizens begin by giving up some part of the constitution, and so with greater ease the government change something else which is a little important, until they have undermined the whole fabric of the state One can certainly find an example of this sort of thing in this country recently Not too long ago, a president instituted something called the Patriot Act that was a serious breach of the constitution This allowed data collection and other things that compromised the rights of citizens Aristotle was aware that in his day, tyrants utilized informants to infiltrate almost every aspect of societal life These informants were the data collectors of Aristotle s day Aristotle knew rightly that these are the tactics of tyrants and they are not desirable for a free society Interestingly enough, he also noted that tyrants often attempted to keep the populace focused on things not pertinent to their role in government these could take the form of fighting foreign wars and or infighting between groups within a society I leave it to the reader to decide if this still happens and if this sort of thing is still relevant in today s democracies The preceding are the thoughts I had while reading this Every review is simply a collection of my thoughts on anything I read I am very far from believing that what Aristotle wrote about is irrelevant today Indeed, I feel quite the opposite Like the Nicomachean Ethics, which was the preceding volume to the Politics, Aristotle believed in moderation He believed in a political balance between freedom and law, democracy and constitutional government He was suspicious of extremes I think that was an astute appraisal of politics We would do well to take the same position in regards to politics today It may be too much to hope when considering that I am a moderate Libertarian that the reader will see this as an adequate defense of political moderation, but hopefully the fact that this isn t a new idea and was the position of thinkers in the past may give it some merit I am giving the book a 4 star review The book caused me to reflect quite a bit I reject Aristotle s caste system where certain people are denied citizenship and rights I also find his defense of infanticide incredibly abhorrent, but it is hardly surprising when one considers his position on the value of children. This is quite a turn away from the optimistic we can figure it all out tone of the Nicomachean Ethics In trying to confront both what a state is and how it functions, he creates this weird insidious master slave hierarchy, expanding it to encompass children, women, basically anyone who isn t a member of the Athenian aristocracy While this in and of itself isn t really shocking considering how the typical greek polis maintained and grew it s own power i.e going to war, stealing women, land and gold etc his inability to fully justify this kind of hierarchy without resorting to some knee jerk idea of a natural order is a huge problem Slavery and gender inequality are ultimately mandated and reinforced because, well, basically because he says so Which is a real cop out compared to the tight, forward reasoning in a lot of his other works At the same time, he s one of the first thinkers to recognize that for how fucked up and oppressive a state can be towards its members, it gets even so when issues of money and finance take over and dominate to the point where the only questions that are taken seriously are those pertaining to making dough It s a deeply flawed book about a deeply flawed, though inescapable topic. Come on Aristotle You really wrote a lame book man I m gonna have to go read Plato s Republic to shake the funk out I mean hey, I know you re supposed to be one of the world s greatest thinkers and you were the founder of formal logic and all But dude, your ethics suck What the jazz are you talking about in this book about how everyone needs to be ruled, and those who lack the rationality to rule themselves need to be ruled by others I mean, I guess that ends up happening to people who lack rationality as they blindly follow groups like the Republican Tea Party and the propaganda of the corporate controlled media But NOT COOL.Slavery bad Sadly, it appears that your words were prophetic as most of us have become wage slaves And I m not sure about the city being important than family which in turn is important than the individual Tottle talks about politics being like an organism instead of a machine and that it s a collection of parts where none can exist without the others Aristotle said the city polis is not just about laws and economic stability, but it s about pursuing the good and noble life He stated the goal was to perform noble acts The political partnership must be regarded, therefore, as being for the sake of noble actions, not for the sake of living together This is different from Thomas Hobbes, for example, who said there was a social contract where individuals leave the state of nature because of fear of violent death Aristotle, I think you ve inspired me to go read something fun. In Politics, Aristotle theorized that in a perfect world, a monarchy would be a benevolent dictatorship, an aristocracy would be rule by the virtuous and democracy would be rule by the people But because of human frailty, monarchy actually becomes tyranny, aristocracy actually becomes oligarchy and pure democracy actually becomes mob rule The practical solution is a form of government that mixes elements of a single ruler, rule by the few and majority rule.This idea survived and evolved, and eventually the English developed a system of government with a monarch, a House of Lords and a House of Commons Later, a system of government was created in the United States with a separation of powers among a President, a Senate and a House of Representatives.How amazing that Aristotle wrote a book so long ago that has had such influence on world history right up to the present day I especially enjoy Aristotle s works, as he is easy to read and his philosophy is beautifully stractured In this book, some of the foundamental ideas of politics are presented, again with an ease so everyone could understand them and see how he reached his conclusion by a logical order. . Aristotle S Politics Is One Of The Earliest, And At The Same Time One Of The Most Thorough And Balanced, Accounts Of Politics It Provides Extended Analyses Of The Origin And Function Of The State The Proper Distribution Of Political Power Among The Branches Of Government A Classification Of The Different Types Of Regime The Reasons Why The Different Regimes Fail And How To Prevent Such Failure And, In General, The Principal Details Of Practical Politics In This Respect, It Is A Primer On Government As Valuable Today As It Was When First Written The Greatest Contribution Of The Politics, However, Lies In Its Establishment Of The Fundamental Principles Underlying These Details The Political Significance Of Human Nature And Rationality The Relation Of The Human Good To The Political Good The Critical Difference Between Politics And Economics And The True Justification For Political Authority And Power At The Very Least, Aristotle S Politics Is A Reminder That Government, Both In Theory And Practice, Needs To Have Its Foundation And Justification In Broader Understandings Of Man, Of Nature, And Of The Purpose Of Political Life Os especialistas e entendidos no assunto dizem que Arist teles uma das figuras intelectuais mais importantes de todos os tempos que ele , juntamente com Plat o, um dos fundadores da raz o ocidental.Dizem os especialistas tamb m que a Pol tica , do mesmo Arist teles, um dos livros mais importantes j escritos, um dos textos seminais da reflex o pol tica.Mas, olhando ao nosso redor, n s, homens do s culo XXI, vemos que nossa realidade, nosso mundo, muito diferente daquele dum grego que viveu no s culo IV a.C Temos estados na es, megal poles, viagens intercontinentais, bombas at micas, conflitos multi tnicos, comunica o em tempo real, voto eletr nico, f bricas e ind strias, bolsa de mercadorias e futuros, em suma, nosso mundo muito mais complexo e intrincado do que o das pequeninas cidades estado do tempo de Arist teles.De que modo, ent o, a sua Pol tica pode nos dizer algo de valor ainda hoje De que modo a sua leitura n o ser apenas um fetiche de antiqu rios Pois bem, a leitura direta do texto, sem atravessadores e intermedi rios, joga no ch o, sem d nem piedade, todas as nossas expectativas, todas as nossas tolas ilus es.Sim, verdade, Arist teles viveu muito tempo atr s e n o conheceu o facebook, nem o whatsapp mas ele conheceu algo mais importante, mais fundamental ele conheceu a natureza humana e, a partir dela, a natureza das associa es formadas pelos homens realmente de fazer cair o queixo se dar conta de que as descri es de Arist teles respeito do comportamento dos homens, seus sentimentos, seus instintos, seus preconceitos, v cios e virtudes, se aplicam, com pequenos ajustes, aos homens do nosso tempo.Mais do que isso as descri es dos v rios tipos de regimes pol ticos, da natureza da cidadania, das causas e origens das revoltas e crises sociais, dos motivos que contribuem para a preserva o das comunidades pol ticas s o absolutamente matadoras, servindo, sem maiores dificuldades, para descrever tamb m fen menos pol ticos e sociais que est o ocorrendo agora, neste exato momento, em pleno s culo XXI.O que Arist teles fez, do ponto de vista intelectual, simplesmente monstruoso nada mais do que criar, a partir de observa es e an lises duma precis o a toda prova, um ferramental que permite o diagn stico de praticamente qualquer ajuntamento de homens neste mund o de Deus.Mas, cuidado N o pense que Arist teles como os nossos professores de filosofia ou cientistas sociais de hoje em dia Nada mais errado do que ter essa imagem na cabe a Arist teles um fil sofo em sentido pleno e dos de mais grosso calibre Isso significa que ele simplesmente n o est preocupado com os teus sentimentos, com as tuas id ias preconcebidas, com as tuas opini es, com a tua id ia de um mundo melhor poss vel Ele est pouco se lixando para essas babaquices p s modernas O que interessa ao Fil sofo e na Idade M dia Arist teles era o fil sofo por antonom sia o conhecimento da realidade das coisas, e, no caso espec fico da Pol tica , o conhecimento da realidade da vida em sociedade.Portanto, n o espere utopias, planos mirabolantes de reforma social, diatribes contra os ricos e coisas desse tipo que s o produzidas, todos dias, de maneira incessante, pelas nossas madra as intelectuais s quais damos o nome pomposo de universidades.Arist teles delineia verdade uma cidade ideal, uma organiza o pol tica ideal Mas isso no mesmo esp rito em que Plat o a fez n o como um plano a ser implementado na pr tica, mas como uma r gua de medida, um crit rio que permitisse a compara o com as sociedades atualmente existentes.Arist teles , no sentido estrito da express o, um cientista, um pesquisador, um intelectual Isso significa que para ele o importante diferentemente do que para Marx, por exemplo compreender o mundo, entender a realidade, e n o transform la.O realismo do homem t o brutal, t o sem meias palavras, que ele reconhece e n o tem vergonha nenhuma de dizer que a vida neste mundo sublunar, nesta verdadeira caverna plat nica, para usar a express o de Eric Voegelin miserable enough Diante disso, o m ximo que se pode almejar, de maneira realista, que as sociedades, mal ajambradas e claudicantes todas elas, sejam minimamente est veis, n o sofrendo com revolu es e crises intestinas o tempo todo.N o que Arist teles seja um brutamontes intelectual, de jeito nenhum Apenas ele n o tem interesse a n o ser na realidade efetiva das coisas, naquilo que se passa, de fato, na vida dos homens e das sociedades E se, para desencavar a verdade e traz la luz do dia, ele tiver de demolir as id ias e opini es alheias, pode ter certeza, irm o ele o far Nem as opini es de Plat o foram poupadas do exame severo desse erudito de integridade intelectual inabal vel.Mas volto a dizer essa severidade n o implica insensibilidade, muito pelo contr rio Arist teles duma sensibilidade nas suas observa es, dum bom senso nas suas an lises e opini es, que quase imposs vel falo por experi ncia pr pria n o se ver a todo o tempo concordando com as pondera es desse grande mestre de vida que ele.Sim, diferentemente do que muitos pensam, especialmente na academia, o Fil sofo ainda tem muito muito mesmo a nos dizer Suas obras n o s o pe as de museu, mas sim o testemunho vivo, marcante, duma intelig ncia poderosa, duma capacidade de observa o e an lise mpares, duma honestidade intelectual inquebrant vel, que continuar a iluminar e a ensinar todos aqueles que se dispuserem a fazer parte do seleto grupo de seus disc pulos e ouvintes.