Aristotle's "Best Regime"
Kingship, Democracy, and the Rule of Law
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: LSU Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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The subject of Aristotleâs âbest regimeâ first came to my attention when I took two graduate seminars on Aristotleâs Politics at the University of Dallas. In those classes Dr. Leo Paul de Alvarez opened my eyes to the importance of political things and awakened my interest in Aristotleâs treatment...
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The last decade of the twentieth century produced a boom in scholarship concerning Aristotelian political philosophy. This reawakened interest in Aristotleâs political thought, and thus all the new attention to the Politics, seems due in part to the belief that liberal democracy needs a renewed...
I. THE CITY, THE CITIZEN, AND THE REGIME
In one sense, Politics 3 is the real beginning of the Politics. It is where Aristotle develops and explains, in a comprehensive manner, the concept of the regime, or politeia. Book 3 is, as W. L. Newman says, âthe centre round which the whole [work] is groupedâ (Newman 1973, 2:xxxi).1 Although one...
1. The City
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The beginning of Politics 3 addresses the issue that both Politics 1 and 2 attempted to deal with, the city or the polis.1 Thus Book 3 is a return to the beginning of an inquiry into politics. Concerning this inquiry, Aristotle in Book 3, chapter 1 states what is clearly the object of his investigation:...
2. The Citizen
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It is commonly asserted that the citizen is a common-sense beginning point for political analysis.1 But is this true? At first glance, Politics 3.1 appears to suggest that Aristotle intends as the first order of business to address the concept of the citizen and who ought to be called a citizen (3.1.1274b41â 75a1)....
3. The Regime
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Politics 3 opens with the implication that to understand what the polis or the political community is one must investigate the regime (3.1.1274a32â33). The case is begun for the importance of the regime in Aristotleâs attempt to understand political community. Politics 3, as I have argued...
II. THE FIRST PEAK: Popular Rule
4. Aristocracy As the Best Regime
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Before we examine Aristotleâs treatment of the many in Politics 3.9â 3.13, we must address what most scholars consider to be the best regime for Aristotle, aristocracy. To examine aristocracy as the best regime in Aristotleâs political thought, one usually considers Politics 7â8 (Mulgan 1977,...
5. The Problem with Politeia As Polity in Politics
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In recent scholarship on Aristotleâs political thought there has been a growing tendency to treat âpolity,â or the so-called âmixed regime,â as his central political teaching on the best regime. But this viewâas well as the traditional view of âpolityâ as an alternative to the best regimeâis not only...
6. The Political Excellence of the Many: A Reexamination of Politics 3.9â13
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It can be argued that contemporary political theories of democracy tend to either exaggerate the political capacities and virtues of the average person1 or argue that the political apathy and selfishness of the average person preserve democratic regimes.2 In recent decades, proponents of these tendencies...
7. Does Aristotle Underrate Democracy? A Reevaluation of Nicomachean Ethics 8.10.1160B19â21
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It is generally assumed that Aristotle holds democracy to be a deviant regime (politeia) and, as such, it cannot be choiceworthy (haietos).1 In fact Aristotle is usually cited as an antidemocrat if not a severe and hostile critic of democracy.2 One key section in the Aristotelian corpus that is usually cited...
III. THE SECOND PEAK: The Three Logoi of the Pambasileia
8. On Kingship
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As I have argued previously, there are two peaks in the argument of Book 3 of the Politics. The first peak is the democratic regime, which is arrived at after a debate between oligarchy and democracy that occurs in Politics 3.9â13. The second peak is the universal kingship (pambasileia) that begins...
9. First Logos (1286a7âb40)
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At this point Aristotle opens up the first logos with the question, âIs it more advantageous to be ruled by the best man or by the best laws?â (3.15.1286a8â9). This question begins a dialogue between a partisan of the laws and a partisan of the best man.1...
10. Second Logos (1287a1âb35)
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The second logos begins with the concern about a king who âacts in all things according to his own willâ contrasted to a king who ârules according to lawâ (3.16.1287a1â4). Aristotle says that a monarchy that ârules according to law is not . . . a kind of kingshipâ (3.16.1287a4). He calls such a...
11. Third Logos (1287b36â1288a30)
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The third logos begins by addressing the criticism made against the pambasileia throughout the second logos. Aristotle notes that the arguments âhold in some cases, in others perhaps they do notâ (3.17.1287b36). By âperhaps they do not,â he does not mean that they definitely do not hold in...
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Throughout the previous chapters I have outlined the arguments that Aristotle presents for justifying popular rule, or democracy, as the best regime. As I have suggested, he presents two peaks in his Politicsâor at least in Politics 3. The first peak is the rule of the many and the superiority of...
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Page Count: 234
Publication Year: 2002
Series Title: Political Traditions in Foreign Policy Series