Maarten Maartensz

Text Philosophy - Aristotle - Politics - Book I - Notes



Notes to Book I:
Maarten Maartensz

Note on these notes

These notes date from the end of 2007, and based on notes in my paper copy of the "The Politics" that date from 1968-1972.

The format is that I quote the text of Aristotle that I comment in blue, and write my own notes in black, with a "Back" at the end of every note that moves the reader back - provided he or she is on line, or has downloaded the relevant files in similar directories, or uses a CD of my site - to the beginning of the quotation in the original text that the note is concerned with. (See also the TOC.)

The result is that my quotations + my notes take more space than Aristotle's original text, but one advantage of the procedure I use is that the reader can read my quotations + my notes independently from the text, yet be moved thence - provisos as above - with a single click.

REMARK: This the 0-version, which means that quite a few things remain to be done. (Nov 14 2007)

Book I

Introductory note A: 

In this first chapter Aristotle is going to formulate a number of propositions concerning human inequality and slavery that many modern students and academics (of feminist, egalitarian or relativistic persuasion) in my time have taken grave exception to, which led i.a. to his being stigmatized as a "Dead White Male" one needn't and shouldn't read.

This - by my lights - is a stupid thing to say and a very stupid not to do. Aristotle was one of the great human geniuses (unlike the abovementioned modern academics); he lived about 2300 years ago; and his influence on Western thinking has been and still in some ways is enormous, for better or for worse, but - in my opinion - for far the greatest part for the better.

So, as you will find when you read my notes, I do disagree with him on slavery, but at the same time I do not use this to brand him as evil or stupid, which some modern students may perhaps be pleased with, on mature consideraton, whereas I agree with him on the existence of considerable intellectual and moral difference between human individuals, which many may find objectionable in him and in me, probably because those who think so cannot make a plausible case that they themselves are intellectually or morally anything special.

In any case, if you sincerely believe Aristotle was a Dead White Male you can do without, you can take it from me that you speak stupidly, and in terms of a kind of inverted racism, and that you better turn to a subject more appropriate to your minimalistic talents. (Of course you may get a degree at the feet of the feminist Ms Butler, reputed to be "a genius" in her own circles - an attribution  as risible as it is stupid.)

Introductory note B:

Aristotle's Politics continues his Ethics, and it is therefore well to quote the last paragraph of that work, that announces the transition to the Politics:

Now our predecessors have left the subject of legislation to us unexamined; it is perhaps best, therefore, that we should ourselves study it, and in general study the question of the constitution, in order to complete to the best of our ability our philosophy of human nature. [83] First, then, if anything has been said well in detail by earlier thinkers, let us try to review it; then in the light of the constitutions we have collected let us study what sorts of influence preserve and destroy states, and what sorts preserve or destroy the particular kinds of constitution, and to what causes it is due that some are well and others ill administered. When these have been studied we shall perhaps be more likely to see with a comprehensive view, which constitution is best, and how each must be ordered, and what laws and customs it must use, if it is to be at its best. Let us make a beginning of our discussion. [84]

It is quoted here with my notes retained, and if you have not read the Ethics it may be wise to do so first - and indeed my previous introductory note also applies to it, to which it may be added that one must be perversely stupid to refuse to try to read and understand one of the greatest human minds on what it is to be human and good, and what is necessary or desirable for a good human society.

Also, to finish this topic of wilful blindness to great humans because they are dead, white or male: The point is not whether a man such as Aristotle was right (he frequently is not, and no man is perfect, however intelligent and learned), but that he clearly had a great mind, tried to do his best, and had a great influence.

It is not for nothing that he was styled THE philosopher, both by the Scholastic and the Muslim philosophers and theologians, on both of whom he had a very great influence, and it may be fairly concluded that if you are not interested in Aristotle's texts, or find it hard to make sense of them, real  philosophy is not a subject for you, though pop-philosophy, such as modern feminism or post-modernism, that are thinly veiled pretentious political ideologies for the most part, may suit your tastes and abilities quite well.

Part I

[1] Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good.

Aristotle discussed the good in the Ethics, which is on my site with my notes, and to which I refer the interested reader for more details about the good and Aristotle's ideas about this concept.

The main mistake in this quotation is at the end: Mankind (individual men) are quite capable of acting in order to do that which they think bad, both intentionally and by accident. (Indeed, if it were otherwise, there would be far fewer moral problems.)    Back.

[2] But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the highest good.

This is a mistake, rather as if you or I get better men if we were to succeed in standing on a higher floor or in acquiring a more powerful position.

What is true, though, is that generally persons with more power or influence, and notably the officials of the state or the church, are far more powerful and influential than most other men - with no guarantee whatsoever that they will use their power to do good, at least if it is good for others.    Back.   

[3] As in other departments of science, so in politics, the compound should always be resolved into the simple elements or least parts of the whole. We must therefore look at the elements of which the state is composed, in order that we may see in what the different kinds of rule differ from one another, and whether any scientific result can be attained about each one of them.

This outlines the analytical mode of doing philosophy ("Analyze! Always first analyze!"), which I also am in favor of.

Note though that what are "the elements" of the "the science of politics" is not immediately obvious: Groups, societies, men? Beliefs, traditions, religions, ideologies? Human needs, or human moral or legal systems? All of these, and more, are undoubtedly somehow involved, but not in any obvious or clear way.    Back.

Part II

[4] He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, whether a state or anything else, will obtain the clearest view of them.

Actually, that is not so, simply because things may grow, and when doing so may grow more complicated, or into different things than they started from. Even so, it makes sense to start simply, also in this case, and for Aristotle the beginning of human society is the human family.    Back.

[5] In the first place there must be a union of those who cannot exist without each other; namely, of male and female, that the race may continue (and this is a union which is formed, not of deliberate purpose, but because, in common with other animals and with plants, mankind have a natural desire to leave behind them an image of themselves), and of natural ruler and subject, that both may be preserved.

What is interesting is that human beings differ from other primates in their sexual relations: It seems natural for humans, and not for other primates, to pair off in a one male - one female relation, and it is natural for humans, and not for other primates, to be in heat during the central decades of their lifes.

And this is very probably not a matter of choice or culture, but mostly a matter of biology, that may have arisen because humans take some two decades to grow and be educated into a capable adult, which again is very probably related to their having far better brains than other animals.    Back.

[6] For that which can foresee by the exercise of mind is by nature intended to be lord and master, and that which can with its body give effect to such foresight is a subject, and by nature a slave; hence master and slave have the same interest.

This is simplistic, and it seems quite odd to read that "master and slave have the same interest", but - as we shall see - for Aristotle the subordination of the weaker to the stronger, and of the stupid to the smart, seems both natural and desirable, and indeed that is also his view of the relation of master and slave, and of man and woman: There is a natural relation of subordination between them, that is based in the end on the greater strength and intelligence of male masters compared to slaves, children and women.

Surely, this is not "the modern enlightened Western view", but then it makes sense to observe that, whatever the value of the modern views and practices, mankind has for a far longer time held human slaves than not, and almost all known societies involve considerable differences in power, riches, status and income for different members and groups, completely apart from slavery or not.    Back.

[7] Now nature has distinguished between the female and the slave. For she is not niggardly, like the smith who fashions the Delphian knife for many uses; she makes each thing for a single use, and every instrument is best made when intended for one and not for many uses. But among barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of slaves, male and female.

Here Aristotle sketches a distinction that may also hold for upperclass women and lowerclass working people, but that seems quite accidental and arbitrary.

Also, it may be remembered that "barbarians", to the Greeks, where all those who happened to lack the distinction of being and speaking Greek, and it may be supposed that among these there were, also in Aristotle's time, many distinct approaches to forming societies.

One thing that is clear, though, is that Aristotle is rather unromantic about power: He believed that it is natural and good that the strong and intelligent rule the weak and the stupid or ignorant. And indeed, this seems fair, within limits, for adults and children.    Back.

[8] Out of these two relationships between man and woman, master and slave, the first thing to arise is the family, and Hesiod is right when he says,

"First house and wife and an ox for the plough, "

for the ox is the poor man's slave.

Hesiod may be quite right, but it is not true that the ox and the human slave are on a par, if only because the human slave has an understanding of himself, of justice, and of other men that is entirely absent in oxen.    Back.

[9] The family is the association established by nature for the supply of men's everyday wants

This may also be read as claiming that the human family is a natural unit, or natural formation.

In the West, in modern days, there are quite a few who have lamented or lauded 'the death of the family' or 'the decline of the family', and so it may be worthwile to point out that human beings, understood as talking apes, differ from other apes in their sexual relations, and seem unique, among apes, in forming naturally a man and woman team to raise and protect their children.

This seems natural for humans (even if also seems natural for men and women to remain interested in others for sexual or personal relations), and one possible natural reason for this is that it takes in fact some 15 tot 25 years to properly educate a human being, and that apart from education it takes some 15 years for a human animal to attain an adult size and body.    Back.

[10] But when several families are united, and the association aims at something more than the supply of daily needs, the first society to be formed is the village. And the most natural form of the village appears to be that of a colony from the family, composed of the children and grandchildren, who are said to be suckled 'with the same milk.'

This indeed also seems natural, and indeed gorillas and chimpanzees do something like it, except that their sexual relations are not organized in the same way, nor are they, like adult human beings, in sexual heat all the time (and therefore in principle constantly sexually attracted and attractive).    Back.

[11] Every family is ruled by the eldest, and therefore in the colonies of the family the kingly form of government prevailed because they were of the same blood.

Here Aristotle seems to confuse what seems mostly natural (the most powerful rules) with what seems mostly cultural (kings and primogeniture).    Back.

[12] As Homer says:

"Each one gives law to his children and to his wives. "

This is certainly so among gorillas, and it is noteworthy to mention one reason why it is less so among human beings, even if some human males would like to see Homer's point of view prevail: Human women and children are quite capable to discuss and question orders, and also quite capable of understandig their male masters in a thoroughly human way.    Back.

[13] For they imagine, not only the forms of the Gods, but their ways of life to be like their own.

This mirrors an observation made by other ancient Greeks, such as Herodotus: In general, men have gods who they believe to be like them, in looks, behavior and preferences.    Back.

[14] When several villages are united in a single complete community, large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life. And therefore, if the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state, for it is the end of them, and the nature of a thing is its end.

What is true is that human groups and cooperation that goes beyond one's own family seems to be less based on sympathy than on self-interest, and that accordingly the forming of larger groups of human beings seems mostly motivated, in so far as it is free choice, on the belief that this will further the interest of the cooperating members, in that many can easily do what one or a few cannot do at all.

Apart from that, the state seems to be not so much natural as cultural, first because it requires human ideas, ends and agreements, and second because, if it were otherwise, there would have been human states as long as there are humans, and that is not so.

Incidentally, the claim "the nature of a thing is its end" is quite Aristotelean, for he held that living things have natural ends, that also define what they are and may be. For more on these Aristotelean basic ideas, see his Physics and Metaphysics.    Back.

[15] For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking of a man, a horse, or a family. Besides, the final cause and end of a thing is the best, and to be self-sufficing is the end and the best.

None of this seems true.

First, I see no reason why children would be less natural or perfect than adults, even if they happen to grow into them, if they make it.

Second, I see no reason to hold that the final cause of something (whatever that may be) or end would be best. This is again tied up with Aristotle's teleological notions, but its logical conclusion seems to be that death is best, since that is for all a natural terminus and end.

Third, one may hold that "to be self-sufficing is the end and the best" but then this is not easily compatible with being a member of a society, and goes counter to what Aristotle earlier said about society. And indeed, the basic rational reason for a human society is that it provides a means to cooperate, and to produce more collectively and cooperatively than the sum of each could produce independently and solely, without cooperating.    Back.

[16] Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal.

This - man is by nature a political animal - is a famous Aristotelian dictum, but it may be doubted for the same reason as it may be doubted that "the state is a creation of nature": Even if both come natural to men, it took them a long time to get as far, and the arisal of both states and policies seem to involve many free human decisions, without any natural need to be made as they eventually are or were made.

Here it may also be remarked that as late as the 1930ies societies of men were discovered (e.g. in Papua-New-Guinea) who lived much like human beings in Europe lived a 100.000 years ago, and who, accordingly, also living in virtual total seclusion of the rest of mankind, did not number sufficiently strong or intelligent men to think of a better idea to organize human society or produce commodities in a better way than they did for countless generations by tradition.

Incidentally, it strikes me as quite curious that such - isolated, small -societies were capable to subsist for some 100.000 years with apparently little development in knowledge or techniques. (Of course part of the reason may be that it may have been fairly easy, in a tropical climate, with abundant and easy growth of food, to find the wherewithall to lead a satisfactory life with little work.)    Back.

[17] And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity (..)

Possibly so, but what if, as happened to Heraclitus of Ephesos, one's fellows ostracize one on the ground that "if you want to be best, than do it elsewhere", or, as also happened to him, it seems to one that the society one lives in is neither good nor interesting?    Back.

[18] Now, that man is more of a political animal than bees or any other gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of speech. And whereas mere voice is but an indication of pleasure or pain, and is therefore found in other animals (for their nature attains to the perception of pleasure and pain and the intimation of them to one another, and no further), the power of speech is intended to set forth the expedient and inexpedient, and therefore likewise the just and the unjust. And it is a characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, of just and unjust, and the like, and the association of living beings who have this sense makes a family and a state.

This contains a number of points to comment on.

First, the reason that "man is more of a political animal than bees or any other gregarious animals" is given by Aristotle as speech, which is true as far as it goes, and implies, at least commonsensically, that what makes man "political" (not uniquely "social", for so indeed are the bees, and many other species of animals) is his ability to choose deliberately and reflexively, and in free discussion with others.

Second, "the power of speech" implies a far greater ability to understand, and to consider possibilities, alternatives, the future, and the past.

Third, whether man "alone has any sense of good and evil, of just and unjust, and the like" may be doubted, though it may be granted that man's sense of good and evil, like man's values and ends, are far more sophisticated than those of other social animals. Even so, social animals do enforce some rules, though the less complex the animal, the more instinctual will this be. (Ants kill ants without the proper smell of the nest, for example.)

Fourth, the human family and state indeed are in considerable part free creatures of the human imagination, rather than instinctually forced modes of being and cooperating: It is in many ways the result of conscious, free, deliberate choice, based on a deliberate weighing of alternatives, possibilities and risks.    Back.

[19] Further, the state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part; for example, if the whole body be destroyed, there will be no foot or hand, except in an equivocal sense, as we might speak of a stone hand; for when destroyed the hand will be no better than that.

No. This is in various ways false and mostly rhetorical, and also easily invites totalitarianism. And in any case, man does not exist for the state, but the state for man - unless it is a dictatorial state.    Back.

[20] But things are defined by their working and power (..)

That makes sense, and a somewhat more abstract rendering of the same is: by their capacities and acts (though not by all of them).    Back.

[21] The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state.

See first under [19].

Also, I think the alternative "either a beast or a god" is hyperbolic: One may be quite human, yet live by oneself, out of choice, for example because of the kind of society or type of man one would otherwise need to live with, or by force or accident, like Robinson Crusoe on his island.

Indeed, he who cannot live by himself or unto himself must be a pretty poor individual, if sound of body and mind.    Back.

[22] A social instinct is implanted in all men by nature, and yet he who first founded the state was the greatest of benefactors.

The first is undoubtedly true, though it also is quite vague. The second is doubtful, and better rephrased by "he who first saw that human cooperation could be used and furthered in the interest of all who cooperated had a very important insight". (But it may be presumed this lies a 100.000 years in the past, at least. Even so, it was the beginning of civilization.)    Back.

[23] For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony.

Yes, and the reason is that whatever may be used may be abused, and thus the greater one's capacities for good, the greater one's capacities for evil.    Back.

[24] But justice is the bond of men in states, for the administration of justice, which is the determination of what is just, is the principle of order in political society.

For which see the Ethics, especially Books ...    Back.

Part III

[25] Seeing then that the state is made up of households, before speaking of the state we must speak of the management of the household.

Indeed, but this is not quite inkeeping, logically speaking, with what was said in [19].     Back.

[26] (..) a complete household consists of slaves and freemen. Now we should begin by examining everything in its fewest possible elements; and the first and fewest possible parts of a family are master and slave, husband and wife, father and children. We have therefore to consider what each of these three relations is and ought to be: I mean the relation of master and servant, the marriage relation (the conjunction of man and wife has no name of its own), and thirdly, the procreative relation (this also has no proper name).

Here it is of course noteworthy that Aristotle held that "a complete household consists of slaves and freemen", and thought this quite natural as well, as he will proceed to explain.

Note that while many in modern times have great trouble with the notion of slavery, most of these many do stand in a relation to others fairly described as "master and servant". (Many in modern society believe themselves to be free, even if in fact they are forced to work most of their lifes under the command of others, merely to be able to obtain the means for survival.)    Back.

[27] And there is another element of a household, the so-called art of getting wealth, which, according to some, is identical with household management, according to others, a principal part of it; the nature of this art will also have to be considered by us.

Aristotle has also discussed this to some extent in the Ethics, and had no high opinion of men whose primary aim in life was to be wealthy. Even so, and apart from wealth, a family needs the wherewithall to eat, sleep, be protected against the weather etc.    Back.

[28] (..) some are of opinion that the rule of a master is a science, and that the management of a household, and the mastership of slaves, and the political and royal rule, as I was saying at the outset, are all the same. Others affirm that the rule of a master over slaves is contrary to nature, and that the distinction between slave and freeman exists by law only, and not by nature; and being an interference with nature is therefore unjust.

So here we see that already with the ancient Greeks slavery was not universally considered good or natural - though the reader should realize that in fact much of the ancient Greek economy worked on slave labor, and there tended to be far more slaves than free men.    Back.

Part IV

[29] Property is a part of the household, and the art of acquiring property is a part of the art of managing the household; for no man can live well, or indeed live at all, unless he be provided with necessaries.

Indeed, but this neither explains what property is, nor what the necessaries are.    Back.

[30] Here, however, another distinction must be drawn; the instruments commonly so called are instruments of production, whilst a possession is an instrument of action. The shuttle, for example, is not only of use; but something else is made by it, whereas of a garment or of a bed there is only the use.

Marx made much of this distinction, and indeed so much that it vitiated a considerable part of his economics, as Steedman's "Marx after Sraffa" explains.

Also, it is noteworthy that Marx's labor theory of value is rather close to  Aristotle's theory about the economical values of commodities. See Ethics Book 5, especially notes [18], [19] and [31].    Back.

[31] The master is only the master of the slave; he does not belong to him, whereas the slave is not only the slave of his master, but wholly belongs to him. Hence we see what is the nature and office of a slave; he who is by nature not his own but another's man, is by nature a slave; and he may be said to be another's man who, being a human being, is also a possession. And a possession may be defined as an instrument of action, separable from the possessor.

Again, "possession" is not clarified, but Aristotle's meaning is clearly that a slave are related to their masters as are cattle to their owners.

Note that this is not a very logical idea, in as much as the human abilities of slaves are quite different from the abilities of cattle. On the other hand, in a society were human slaves could be bought and sold as a matter of course in the market place, it seems not very unreasonable to state and conclude that, in such a society, slaves did have the marks of property, however this was precisely understood.    Back.

Part V

[32] But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature?

That, of course, is the question. Aristotle will answer it in a way that is not modern nor popular among moderns - though it should also be realized that in effect slavery in the European countries was abolished in the first three quarters of the 19th Century only, and until then was regarded by most as quite natural, quite fair, or at least not intolerable, especially as regards human beings of other races, often also deemed "backward", "primitive" or "savage".    Back.

[33] There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.

Even if this is so - and it is true that some are born smart, others strong, and yet others neither strong nor smart, and that this seems to imply that some are naturally more fit to rule than others - that some should rule and others be ruled in no way implies that the former should own the latter, and the latter enslaved by the former.    Back.

[34] (..) we must study the man who is in the most perfect state both of body and soul, for in him we shall see the true relation of the two; although in bad or corrupted natures the body will often appear to rule over the soul, because they are in an evil and unnatural condition.

It seems to me that the best are not the right way to understand the average, simply because the best are rare, and the average common. And - for example - Aristotle himself is not quite the right person to understand or explain far less extra-ordinary men.    Back.

[35] And it is clear that the rule of the soul over the body, and of the mind and the rational element over the passionate, is natural and expedient; whereas the equality of the two or the rule of the inferior is always hurtful.

Perhaps, but at best this is an argument by analogy, and the point made under [33] remains standing.    Back.

[36] The same holds good of animals in relation to men; for tame animals have a better nature than wild, and all tame animals are better off when they are ruled by man; for then they are preserved.

One may ask whether the animals would agree, if they were capable of making such choices, which they are not. But it is true that there will be more cattle if men keep cattle, and also true that a good farmer takes proper care of his animals, if only out of self-interest. Besides, it is unlikely that the life in the wild, for most animals, is much like bliss, and far more likely to be a continuous struggle for food and safety, in which nearly all perish long before their old age, often painfully.    Back.

[37] Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled; this principle, of necessity, extends to all mankind.

Interestingly, Aristotle does not explain why this would be so: He merely asserts it.

As far as human beings are concerned, it seems the main differences between men and women are that the former are on average slightly larger, slightly stronger, and somewhat more aggressive.

There are no obvious intellectual or moral differences (or those which there are may be considered partial to women, who tend to be less aggressive, and who do put the children in the world and take care of them in their young years), except perhaps that there are more geniuses among men - but then that is something that applies to at most 1 in 10 million or so, and therefore is hardly relevant to judge "men" and "women" by.

Accordingly, there seems to be no rational reason to treat women as inferior to men, and many moral and practical reasons not to, and the supposed superiority of men seems of a beastly nature, that derives from mere size and physical strength.    Back.

[38] Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business is to use their body, and who can do nothing better), the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master.

What one can agree with is that it is practically unwise (fraught with harmful consequences for many) if the stupid or the ignorant rule the intelligent and knowledgeable.

But "rule" is not the same as "master", and "master" is not the same as "slave-owner", so Aristotle doesn't prove his point.

And there also is this point, taken from Ayer & O'Grady, who took it from Singer:

...when in the 1850s the call for women's rights was raised in the United States, a remarkable black feminist named Sojourner Truth made the (..) point (..)

They talk about this thing in the head; what do they call it? ['Intellect', whispered someone nearby.] That's it. What's that got to do with women's rights otr Negroes' rights?  If my cup won't hold but a pint and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?

Interestingly, Singer uses this for the following end is in accordance with this principle that the attitude that we may call 'speciesism', by analogy with racism, must also be condemned.

In short, Singer is an animal rightist of the more extremist kind - as if Sojourner Truth had asked or meant 'wouldn't you be mean not to treat me as a pig?'. (In brief, I reject the analogy and Singer's argument, and like human beings, for all their stupidities, crudities, and intentional cruelties, better than, say, tapeworms. If that makes me 'a speciesist', so be it. I'm sure the pigs and the tapeworms don't care either.)    Back.

[39] For he who can be, and therefore is, another's and he who participates in rational principle enough to apprehend, but not to have, such a principle, is a slave by nature. Whereas the lower animals cannot even apprehend a principle; they obey their instincts.

Here the point seems to be that the stupid should not rule the intelligent - but as remarked under the previous point, this does not establish Aristotle's contention.    Back.

[40] And indeed the use made of slaves and of tame animals is not very different; for both with their bodies minister to the needs of life.

This wholly avoids discussing the differences between human beings treated as cattle, and animals treated as cattle. Even the most stupid of men, if not a congenital complete idiot, is more intelligent than the most clever of animals, and also far more like the person who may own him as slave, than any animal.    Back.

[41] And doubtless if men differed from one another in the mere forms of their bodies as much as the statues of the Gods do from men, all would acknowledge that the inferior class should be slaves of the superior. And if this is true of the body, how much more just that a similar distinction should exist in the soul? but the beauty of the body is seen, whereas the beauty of the soul is not seen. It is clear, then, that some men are by nature free, and others slaves, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right.

If we first consider only the body, it seems true that most men (and women) seem inclined this way, in as much as the naturally beautiful are far more appreciated than those who are not, and generally are attributed further good properties, merely on the strength of being physically attractive.

Even so, this does not license the inference that "the inferior class should be slaves of the superior", even if the inferior are less strong and attractive than the superior.    Back.

Part VI

[42] There is a slave or slavery by law as well as by nature. The law of which I speak is a sort of convention - the law by which whatever is taken in war is supposed to belong to the victors. But this right many jurists impeach, as they would an orator who brought forward an unconstitutional measure: they detest the notion that, because one man has the power of doing violence and is superior in brute strength, another shall be his slave and subject. Even among philosophers there is a difference of opinion.

Note first - as e.g. illustrated by Thucydides - that "the law by which whatever is taken in war is supposed to belong to the victors" was common practice then, and for a long time afterward. The whole notion of law extending to situations of war only started in the 17th Century.

Second, that "Even among philosophers there is a difference of opinion" sounds a bit cynical, for obviously the whole notion that one can do what one pleases with and to the members of a group or city that has been defeated is cut from the same cloth as from which comes "might is right".    Back.

[43] (..) as superior power is only found where there is superior excellence of some kind, power seems to imply virtue (..)

No way: This is again far too close to "might is right". And one may be a perfect bully and a great nutter.    Back.

[44] And again, no one would ever say he is a slave who is unworthy to be a slave. Were this the case, men of the highest rank would be slaves and the children of slaves if they or their parents chance to have been taken captive and sold. Wherefore Hellenes do not like to call Hellenes slaves, but confine the term to barbarians.

It is noteworthy that the Greeks of Socrates's or Aristotle's time were in fact of very mixed stock, and that "Hellenes" were those who had Greek as their mother language, and "barbarians" those who didn't.

Even so - see Thucydides, e.g. on the Miletians - the Greeks gladly chopped off the heads of the males of a Greek city they defeated, and sold the women and children into slavery, though perhaps not to Greeks but e.g. to Phoenecians.     Back.

[45] (..) it must be admitted that some are slaves everywhere, others nowhere. The same principle applies to nobility. Hellenes regard themselves as noble everywhere, and not only in their own country, but they deem the barbarians noble only when at home, thereby implying that there are two sorts of nobility and freedom, the one absolute, the other relative.

It seems both chauvinism and the desire to seem better than others are quite human - human-all-too-human, as Nietzsche might have said, though he too liked to think of himself as an aristocrat.    Back.

[46] Hence, where the relation of master and slave between them is natural they are friends and have a common interest, but where it rests merely on law and force the reverse is true.

Again, this is much like the relation between a good farmer and his cattle, and in fact hardly credible, since very few men like to be slaves, for it is natural to desire to do as one pleases.    Back.

Part VII

[47] The previous remarks are quite enough to show that the rule of a master is not a constitutional rule, and that all the different kinds of rule are not, as some affirm, the same with each other. For there is one rule exercised over subjects who are by nature free, another over subjects who are by nature slaves.

As my "previous remarks" show, Aristotle's opinions on the topic of slavery are far from rational, and the best that can be said for them is that he described and sought to legitimize what was the common practice in his days, and remained so for some 2000 years, in most places.    Back.


[48] Now it is easy to see that the art of household management is not identical with the art of getting wealth, for the one uses the material which the other provides. For the art which uses household stores can be no other than the art of household management. There is, however, a doubt whether the art of getting wealth is a part of household management or a distinct art.

Here Aristotle has turned to discussing wealth and property. It is noteworthy here that, both for Aristotle and for his contemporary Greek free men, it was more or less axiomatic that men works to live, and does not live to work - which was, incidentally, another reason to hold slaves.    Back.

[49] Such are the modes of subsistence which prevail among those whose industry springs up of itself, and whose food is not acquired by exchange and retail trade - there is the shepherd, the husbandman, the brigand, the fisherman, the hunter.

I extract this from a longer discussion on ways of making a living to show that, since then, there have arisen enormous complications and differentiations in working for money.    Back.

[50] Property, in the sense of a bare livelihood, seems to be given by nature herself to all, both when they are first born, and when they are grown up.

This is again not a clear sense of "Property" other than the wherewithall to survive on or with.    Back.

[51] In like manner we may infer that, after the birth of animals, plants exist for their sake, and that the other animals exist for the sake of man, the tame for use and food, the wild, if not all at least the greater part of them, for food, and for the provision of clothing and various instruments. Now if nature makes nothing incomplete, and nothing in vain, the inference must be that she has made all animals for the sake of man.

This is again an application of Aristotle's penchant for teleological explanations, and it may be well to extract the principles

  • things exist for ends
  • nature makes nothing incomplete
  • nature does nothing in vain

None of this seems true: Human ends are unique to humans, in as much as they depend on rational linguistic planning, imagination and desire; many natural things might have been better than they are, in various senses; and if nature does nothing in vain it is only because whatever it does in particular enters into relations with other particulars.

Even so, this mode of teleological reasoning has been popular for ages, and indeed it is remarkably easy to justify inferences that are desirable, such as nature "has made all animals for the sake of man" - which, incidentally, can also be found in the Bible, except that God contrived this in His goodness.    Back.

[52] And so, in one point of view, the art of war is a natural art of acquisition, for the art of acquisition includes hunting, an art which we ought to practice against wild beasts, and against men who, though intended by nature to be governed, will not submit; for war of such a kind is naturally just.

What is true is that violence is natural, while it is also true that some other social animals, such as ants, may be quite warlike to other ants.

Note also Aristotle's line of reasoning to justify war: It is justified if the warred against party is naturally inferior. The problem, of course, is that it comes natural to consider those one wishes to exploit or subject as inferior.    Back.

[53] (..) the amount of property which is needed for a good life is not unlimited, although Solon in one of his poems says that

"No bound to riches has been fixed for man. "

Put otherwise: Human desire tends to be unlimited. Here then it may also be remarked that, as one man's riches tend to be other men's losses, the desire for boundless riches implies the desire for limitless exploitation or at least easily justifies it, to the rich.    Back.

[54] But there is a boundary fixed, just as there is in the other arts; for the instruments of any art are never unlimited, either in number or size, and riches may be defined as a number of instruments to be used in a household or in a state.

No, that doesn't make sense, though it leads up to a better point below. It doesn't make sense, because the limitation of instruments implies no limitation of products.    Back.

Part IX

[55] Of everything which we possess there are two uses: both belong to the thing as such, but not in the same manner, for one is the proper, and the other the improper or secondary use of it. For example, a shoe is used for wear, and is used for exchange; both are uses of the shoe. He who gives a shoe in exchange for money or food to him who wants one, does indeed use the shoe as a shoe, but this is not its proper or primary purpose, for a shoe is not made to be an object of barter. The same may be said of all possessions, for the art of exchange extends to all of them, and it arises at first from what is natural, from the circumstance that some have too little, others too much.

Marx made much of this, and called it 'use value' and 'exchange value'. It is noteworthy that these days most marketable commodities are made for trade, and that this is related to the industrial mode of production and the division of labor.    Back.

[56] Hence we may infer that retail trade is not a natural part of the art of getting wealth; had it been so, men would have ceased to exchange when they had enough. In the first community, indeed, which is the family, this art is obviously of no use, but it begins to be useful when the society increases.

Aristotle, who was an aristocrat, had little liking for traders, merchants and what are these days called businessmen, mostly because he considered their activities and motives appropriate to inferior men only.

And in fact, speaking socially, "retail trade" is the foundation of a society's wealth, however it is divided among its members, and - as pointed out in the previous point, and at far greater length in Adam Smith's "The wealth of nations" - this also involves the industrial mode of production and the division of labor.    Back.

[57] For the members of the family originally had all things in common; later, when the family divided into parts, the parts shared in many things, and different parts in different things, which they had to give in exchange for what they wanted, a kind of barter which is still practiced among barbarous nations who exchange with one another the necessaries of life and nothing more; giving and receiving wine, for example, in exchange for coin, and the like.

This contains two noteworthy points.

First, that "the members of the family originally had all things in common" is something that is still, in some sense, true of families: There is, it might be said, something like a natural human spirit of communism - "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" - namely that which prevails in ordinary well-functioning families.

This also is true of the most capitalistic of entrepreneurs, whose capitalistic modes of dealing with others stops at the door of his family mansion, where his family members are concerned.

Second, "barter" - exchange of commodities without the intermediation of money - must have been practiced for tenthousands of years, and indeed is the beginning of trade, and a kind of cooperation.    Back.

[58] This sort of barter is not part of the wealth-getting art and is not contrary to nature, but is needed for the satisfaction of men's natural wants. The other or more complex form of exchange grew, as might have been inferred, out of the simpler. When the inhabitants of one country became more dependent on those of another, and they imported what they needed, and exported what they had too much of, money necessarily came into use.

Aristotle makes the distinction between "barter" and trade quite clearly: Only the latter involves money, incidentally invented around 700 B.C.

Note that money is a curious thing: A medium of exchange that, at least when it itself is not of the nature of gold, silver or diamonds, is without any value as such, other than as abstract title and means of exchange with commodities.    Back.

[59] When the use of coin had once been discovered, out of the barter of necessary articles arose the other art of wealth getting, namely, retail trade; which was at first probably a simple matter, but became more complicated as soon as men learned by experience whence and by what exchanges the greatest profit might be made. Originating in the use of coin, the art of getting wealth is generally thought to be chiefly concerned with it, and to be the art which produces riches and wealth (..)

Note the underlying point: Whereas it is in principle possible, in a society with barter but no money, to hoard enormous quantities of goods, such as sheep or amphorae of wine, this normally is quite useless, since one will not be able to barter them, and is forced to store and take care of them. But as soon as one can hoard pieces of metal, each of which can be exchanged for commodities, hoarding of money becomes an obvious possibility.    Back.

[60] Indeed, riches is assumed by many to be only a quantity of coin, because the arts of getting wealth and retail trade are concerned with coin. Others maintain that coined money is a mere sham, a thing not natural, but conventional only, because, if the users substitute another commodity for it, it is worthless, and because it is not useful as a means to any of the necessities of life, and, indeed, he who is rich in coin may often be in want of necessary food.

Clearly, "that coined money is a mere sham" is at best a hyperbole, for in a functioning society, where money and trade are normal, a quantity of money is at least as good as, and usually better than, a promise by an honest man to give one something.    Back.

[61] Hence men seek after a better notion of riches and of the art of getting wealth than the mere acquisition of coin, and they are right. For natural riches and the natural art of wealth-getting are a different thing; in their true form they are part of the management of a household; whereas retail trade is the art of producing wealth, not in every way, but by exchange.

As mentioned before, Aristotle had an aristocratic disdain for mere traders, and for people whose end in life is the acquisition of wealth. One problem with this mindset is that most ordinary men feel differently, and are willing to spend much efforts on becoming wealthy, and indeed for an understandable reason: Men desire to do as they please, and in a society with money, having lots of money is the best guarantee for doing as one pleases, and also for being respected, admired, and to get status and power.

What is true, on the other hand, is that such a concern with monetary wealth as the end of life tends to put a stop to many other things, such as humane relations and development of mind and character, if only because for most it seems that whoever is rich enough can get all he wants, so that it seems natural for many to try to become rich before becoming properly human, educated or wise.

Yet again, as Mandeville pointed out, this human-all-too-human concern with becoming personally rich, and with outsmarting others in economical deals, also is the foundation of social wealth for all, and seems a naturally fitting way to make most ordinary men behave legally and productively.    Back.

[62] And it is thought to be concerned with coin; for coin is the unit of exchange and the measure or limit of it. And there is no bound to the riches which spring from this art of wealth getting. As in the art of medicine there is no limit to the pursuit of health, and as in the other arts there is no limit to the pursuit of their several ends, for they aim at accomplishing their ends to the uttermost (but of the means there is a limit, for the end is always the limit), so, too, in this art of wealth-getting there is no limit of the end, which is riches of the spurious kind, and the acquisition of wealth.

Aristotle's disdain is clear, but his argument is not quite sensible, if only because e.g. medicine and many other human pursuits have a clear and limited end (such as the health of the patient in medicine), whereas it is a peculiar feature of money that it can be acquired without limit, and gives its possessor, as long as society is not disrupted, a power proportionate to his wealth, since his wealth is proportionate to the commodities and services he can buy with it.     Back.

[63] And, therefore, in one point of view, all riches must have a limit; nevertheless, as a matter of fact, we find the opposite to be the case; for all getters of wealth increase their hoard of coin without limit. The source of the confusion is the near connection between the two kinds of wealth-getting; in either, the instrument is the same, although the use is different, and so they pass into one another; for each is a use of the same property, but with a difference: accumulation is the end in the one case, but there is a further end in the other.

This was explained above, and is also part of Marx's inspiritation when he wrote of alienation, for it seemed to him (as to Aristotle) that those whose aim in life is to become wealthy become divested from their proper humanity, because they reduce everything human to profit and trade.

Indeed, this is so to a considerable extent - but then most if not all successful entrepreneurial types seem to have little talent for real science or art, and may be most usefully employed in organizing things and trade for their own benefits, thereby contributing to social wealth.

What is true is that such entrepreneurial types should not be the leaders of, or most important force behind, government, since that requires far more in knowledge and abilities to do well and fairly than are necessary to become a successful trader, wheeler and dealer.    Back.

[64] Hence some persons are led to believe that getting wealth is the object of household management, and the whole idea of their lives is that they ought either to increase their money without limit, or at any rate not to lose it.

Indeed, and that is in many ways the human ideal of most who live under capitalism: To get rich.    Back.

[65] Those who do aim at a good life seek the means of obtaining bodily pleasures; and, since the enjoyment of these appears to depend on property, they are absorbed in getting wealth: and so there arises the second species of wealth-getting. For, as their enjoyment is in excess, they seek an art which produces the excess of enjoyment; and, if they are not able to supply their pleasures by the art of getting wealth, they try other arts, using in turn every faculty in a manner contrary to nature.

As pointed out before, as long as a society with money functions, to have money in it is to have power in it, and to have power in it is to be able to do as one pleases, which is what all men naturally desire.    Back.

[66] Nevertheless, some men turn every quality or art into a means of getting wealth; this they conceive to be the end, and to the promotion of the end they think all things must contribute.

This I explained in previous notes, and all that remains to be added here is that such men may be clever dealers, but seem to have little talent for art or science, and also may be quite successful in putting the cart before the horse as far as their personal happiness is concerned.    Back.

Part X

[67] But, strictly speaking, as I have already said, the means of life must be provided beforehand by nature; for the business of nature is to furnish food to that which is born, and the food of the offspring is always what remains over of that from which it is produced. Wherefore the art of getting wealth out of fruits and animals is always natural.

This harks back to previous points of Aristotle, and also insists again, a bit tacitly, that the desire for monetary riches is not precisely "natural".    Back.

[68] There are two sorts of wealth-getting, as I have said; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another.

Indeed - but see under [61], [62] and [63]. Briefly, it may be that most men are not capable of doing much better.    Back.

[69] The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

This point had great influence: It took until late in the Middle Ages for usury to become permissible, and for devout muslims it still is forbidden to demand interest on loans.

But Aristotle was mistaken, at least practically if not morally: The great harm usury may do can be mostly limited and prevented by law and by fair taxes.    Back.

Part XI

[70] Enough has been said about the theory of wealth-getting; we will now proceed to the practical part. The discussion of such matters is not unworthy of philosophy, but to be engaged in them practically is illiberal and irksome.

In other words: The true philosopher is willing to think about making money, but to superior a person to engage in it.

The problem with this is that it either requires inherited wealth, or great strength of character and living in a tun, as did Diogenes, or else some subtle redefinitions, such as making teaching philosophy for money something that is not at all on a par with, say, trading furs for money. (Here it may be pointed out, perhaps, that prostitutes would have a better case, logically speaking, since they are paid to please.)     Back.

[71] Of the other, which consists in exchange, the first and most important division is commerce (of which there are three kinds - the provision of a ship, the conveyance of goods, exposure for sale - these again differing as they are safer or more profitable), the second is usury, the third, service for hire - of this, one kind is employed in the mechanical arts, the other in unskilled and bodily labor.

This is a neat division, that also suggests that economical relations in Antiquity, indeed until the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century, were considerably more simple and more direct than in modern days, where the majority of working people do not produce commodities, but engage in paper work and organizing things, or are bureaucrats of the state or city.     Back.

[72] Those occupations are most truly arts in which there is the least element of chance; they are the meanest in which the body is most deteriorated, the most servile in which there is the greatest use of the body, and the most illiberal in which there is the least need of excellence.

In brief: The better sort of person one is, the less bodily labor one engages in. This may seem natural to an aristocrat, but personally I have known hardworking farmers who seemed to me far more rational and reasonable than far less hardworking entrepreneurial types or academically employed philosophers, that I have also personally known.    Back.

[73] There is the anecdote of Thales the Milesian and his financial device (..)

This is the philosopher - florished around -580 - who said that the world originated from water, was sustained by water, and drifted on it. He also is supposed to have laid the foundations of geometry, though this may be later legend. He is also believed to have been an engineer who built at least one bridge for King Croesus, the inventor of money. Thales certainly was a very smart man, and known as such in his own and Aristotle's time.

It is noteworthy that he was one of the first men to whom conscious rational speculation about the origin of reality and about mathematics was attributed.    Back.

[74] He is supposed to have given a striking proof of his wisdom, but, as I was saying, his device for getting wealth is of universal application, and is nothing but the creation of a monopoly. It is an art often practiced by cities when they are want of money; they make a monopoly of provisions.

Note two things: Here a better term than "wisdom" is "intelligence" or "cleverness", and "monopoly" is a very old and well-known means to get stinkingly rich.

And indeed, in a well-run state with free trade and money, the state or the law takes care to prevent monopolies, if only because they give to much power to monopolists.    Back.

Part XII

[75] Of household management we have seen that there are three parts - one is the rule of a master over slaves, which has been discussed already, another of a father, and the third of a husband. A husband and father, we saw, rules over wife and children, both free, but the rule differs, the rule over his children being a royal, over his wife a constitutional rule.

Note that for Aristotle (1) these are natural relations and (2) this extends to the kinds of subordinations (men - women - children - slaves) he speaks of.    Back.

[76] For although there may be exceptions to the order of nature, the male is by nature fitter for command than the female, just as the elder and full-grown is superior to the younger and more immature. But in most constitutional states the citizens rule and are ruled by turns, for the idea of a constitutional state implies that the natures of the citizens are equal, and do not differ at all.

Here feminists may feel joy in contemplating "the idea of a constitutional state implies that the natures of the citizens are equal", but Aristotle takes care of that in the next point.    Back.

[77] Nevertheless, when one rules and the other is ruled we endeavor to create a difference of outward forms and names and titles of respect (..). The relation of the male to the female is of this kind, but there the inequality is permanent.

As I argued before, this seems to me not founded on reason.

On the other hand, it also seems clear to me, if not to modern feminists, that men and women are different - and that the differences are mostly concerned with bearing and raising children.

Since this is very important, it also seems to me that men and women should have some different rights and duties in these respects - and indeed, I am one of those who believes it is quite sensible for many women to desire to raise their own children, and organize their own family, rather than work 40 hours a week in a menial job, so as to be able to pay other even more menial women to take care of their children for pay, or do the cooking.    Back.

[78] And therefore Homer has appropriately called Zeus 'father of Gods and men,' because he is the king of them all. For a king is the natural superior of his subjects, but he should be of the same kin or kind with them, and such is the relation of elder and younger, of father and son.

Again it is noteworthy that for Aristotle these are natural relations, which he also saw illustrated not only in Greek gods and men, women and children, but also in some animals, for social animals tend to live in packs or hordes, in which there are leaders, with some social order based on power and status, since this is even true of goats and chickens.    Back.


[79] A question may indeed be raised, whether there is any excellence at all in a slave beyond and higher than merely instrumental and ministerial qualities - whether he can have the virtues of temperance, courage, justice, and the like; or whether slaves possess only bodily and ministerial qualities. And, whichever way we answer the question, a difficulty arises; for, if they have virtue, in what will they differ from freemen? On the other hand, since they are men and share in rational principle, it seems absurd to say that they have no virtue. A similar question may be raised about women and children, whether they too have virtues: ought a woman to be temperate and brave and just, and is a child to be called temperate, and intemperate, or not.

Clearly, Aristotle's own answer is on the line of: Yes... but there is a natural lower and higher, and naturally males are highest.    Back.

[80] Here the very constitution of the soul has shown us the way; in it one part naturally rules, and the other is subject, and the virtue of the ruler we in maintain to be different from that of the subject; the one being the virtue of the rational, and the other of the irrational part. Now, it is obvious that the same principle applies generally, and therefore almost all things rule and are ruled according to nature. But the kind of rule differs; the freeman rules over the slave after another manner from that in which the male rules over the female, or the man over the child (..)     Back.

Realistically speaking, usually "the male rules over the female, or the man over the child", regardless of his abilities or intentions, because of his bigger size and greater strength, and not because of his superior intelligence or greater knowledge.

Apart from that, it may well be asked to what extent the rational, deliberating and conscious part of one's mind is in control of the emotional, passionate and possibly unconscious part, especially if one considers that (1) quite probably intelligence is a modification of feeling itself, rather than quite distinct from it and (2) in any case the choice to deliberate rather than to enact one's feelings will in considerable part depend on feelings (that themselves again may depend on perceived or presumed consequences).



[81] For the slave has no deliberative faculty at all; the woman has, but it is without authority, and the child has, but it is immature. So it must necessarily be supposed to be with the moral virtues also; all should partake of them, but only in such manner and degree as is required by each for the fulfillment of his duty.

Here Aristotle settles by postulation what he should prove, but very probably knew to be quite false, namely that "the slave has no deliberative faculty at all".

Note also, incidentally, that there is no logical inference from "having more power" to "having higher moral virtues", even if most who have power like to think and pretend so. But there is no obvious reason why someone of limited gifts in a menial social position may not be morally an excellent person.    Back.

[82] Clearly, then, moral virtue belongs to all of them; but the temperance of a man and of a woman, or the courage and justice of a man and of a woman, are not, as Socrates maintained, the same; the courage of a man is shown in commanding, of a woman in obeying. And this holds of all other virtues, as will be more clearly seen if we look at them in detail, for those who say generally that virtue consists in a good disposition of the soul, or in doing rightly, or the like, only deceive themselves.

It seems to me Socrates was more right here than Aristotle. For more on the virtues, see the Ethics.    Back.

[83] Some one will ask whether, if what we are saying is true, virtue will not be required also in the artisans, for they often fail in their work through the lack of self control? But is there not a great difference in the two cases? For the slave shares in his master's life; the artisan is less closely connected with him, and only attains excellence in proportion as he becomes a slave. The meaner sort of mechanic has a special and separate slavery; and whereas the slave exists by nature, not so the shoemaker or other artisan.

Here it is noteworthy that in Antiquity there were artisans, that is, free men who made their living by exercising some learned craft.    Back.

[84] Wherefore they are mistaken who forbid us to converse with slaves and say that we should employ command only, for slaves stand even more in need of admonition than children.

This sounds as if it should be spoken in a pronounced upperclass accent, as if it was a most moral thought.    Back.

[85] For, inasmuch as every family is a part of a state, and these relationships are the parts of a family, and the virtue of the part must have regard to the virtue of the whole, women and children must be trained by education with an eye to the constitution, if the virtues of either of them are supposed to make any difference in the virtues of the state. And they must make a difference: for the children grow up to be citizens, and half the free persons in a state are women.

Note here "women and children must be trained by education with an eye to the constitution", which is to say that, also for Aristotle, as for the moderns, the state and its laws enter into family life.    Back.