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Aristotle's Politics Today

Lenn E. Goodman, Robert B. Talisse

Publication Year: 2007

According to Aristotle, man’s essential sociality implies a distinctive conception of politics, one in which all political associations exist for the sake of the moral perfection of human beings. This stands in sharp contrast with the modern view of politics that man is not “by nature” political; rather, man chooses to create political associations for the sake of securing the protection of his life and property. Many political theorists have begun to express doubts about this modern view, calling for a return to Aristotle’s vision of a politics that is deeply moral. In Aristotle’s Politics Today, distinguished political philosophers representing a diversity of approaches examine the meaning, relevance, and implications of Aristotle’s political thought for contemporary social and political theory. The contributors engage a broad range of topics, including Aristotle’s views on constitutionalism, the extension of Aristotelian ideas to issues in international relations, the place of Aristotelian virtue in modern democratic politics, and Aristotle’s conception of justice.

Published by: State University of New York Press

ARISTOTLE’S POLITICS TODAY

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CONTENTS

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pp. v-vi

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-12

A well-known philosopher who lived through almost all of the twentieth century used to remark on the penchant some philosophers have for announcing the death of their own discipline. That bad habit isn’t confined to philosophers, of course. We’ve often seen premature obituaries about art in general or figural art in particular, or lyric poetry, or music, or melody, the novel, or religion. It was even thought, around the end of the nineteenth century, that physics was about finished and nothing...

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1. ARISTOTELIAN STATECRAFT AND MODERN POLITICS

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pp. 13-32

Aristotle still has much to offer to modern politics. Although many today would reject his aristocratic ideal (not to mention his endorsement of slavery and the disenfranchisement of women, artisans, and laborers), his conception of statecraft transcends his historical and political perspective. This chapter will offer a reconstruction of Aristotelian statecraft (politikē) and a brief overview of Aristotle’s suggestions as to how statecraft should be applied. The main thesis is that Aristotelian statecraft is...

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2. ARISTOTLE AND THE LIBERAL STATE

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pp. 33-44

On the surface the contrast between Aristotle’s political aims and those of the modern political state—I shall refer to it as the “liberal state”—could not be more stark. Whereas the very first sentence of the Politics asserts that all political associations aim at some good (1252a1–2), the liberal state does not aim to realize a public good but to insure that each individual is able to pursue his private vision of the good, so long as it does not interfere with others’ pursuits of their own goods.1 Clearly, where...

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3. WHY DEMOCRATS NEED THE VIRTUES

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pp. 45-52

In this chapter, I pursue two related themes. First, I contend that the deliberative turn in contemporary democratic theory is as yet incomplete. Second, I propose some reasons for thinking that deliberative democrats must turn to Aristotle if they hope to complete their project. Thus the following pages are not focused upon some detail or other of Aristotle’s text, nor do I claim to be presenting a view that Aristotle himself would endorse. The point is rather to suggest that contemporary deliberativism needs Aristotle....

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4. VIRTUE-ORIENTED POLITICS: CONFUCIUS AND ARISTOTLE

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pp. 53-76

On the face of it, Aristotle’s view of politics seems quite different from Confucius’s. Aristotle defines the polis and the citizen and analyzes them according to a teleological understanding of nature.1 Confucius not only lacks explicit definitions but also lacks any explicit theories about nature and teleology. Aristotle sharply distinguishes the political rule of statesmen from the household rule of fathers. Confucius assimilates political rule to household rule: political government is simply the father-son...

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5. THE MORALITY OF NATIONS: AN ARISTOTELIAN APPROACH

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pp. 77-92

Aristotle has very little to say about what we would today call inter-national relations. Nevertheless, I think that Aristotle does provide us with the conceptual tools for making some sense of the philosophical issues surrounding and saturating the global village. The principal insight gleaned from Aristotle in this regard is that much if not all of the discussion of international relations today rests on a serious mistake. The mistake is to suppose that nations are moral agents. ...

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6. THE REVOLT OF THE JUST

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pp. 93-108

Politics V is a frustrating book. Whatever Aristotle’s concerns are, they seem at best oblique to the really important questions he ought to be talking about. The book fails to address a whole series of clearly urgent ethical questions about constitutional change. Does virtue play a role in the politics of constitutional change? Does the goodness of the constitution play a role? ...

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7. ARISTOTLE’S REGIME OF THE AMERICANS

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pp. 109-128

The discovery of ancient texts once thought to have been irretrievably lost is a rare event. But it does happen. The discovery a few years ago of the works of Posidippus is a case in point. As far as the texts of Aristotle are concerned, the most dramatic event in modern times was the discovery, in the nineteenth century, of his Athenaion Politeia, or Regime of the Athenians. Not less dramatic is the text that follows and that I offer here for the first time both in the original Greek and in accompanying English...

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8. ARISTOTLE’S POLITY TODAY

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pp. 129-150

It’s hard to say just how much philosophy is autobiographical. Surely those philosophers who devote their lives to musing on the reality of possible worlds or the unreality of time seem to survey an arid landscape. Perhaps the territory they scan draws their gaze because of its remoteness from the world they live in. But Aristotle’s rich panorama of the world beyond the mind offers tantalizing insights into his perspective too, not confessions ala Rousseau or Augustine but vistas vividly colored by the ...

WORKS CITED

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pp. 151-158

CONTRIBUTORS

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pp. 159-160

INDEX LOCORUM

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pp. 161-162

INDEX

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pp. 163-167


E-ISBN-13: 9780791479360
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791472279

Page Count: 173
Illustrations: 3 tables
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Series Editor Byline: Anthony Preus

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Subject Headings

  • State, The.
  • Aristotle. Politics.
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