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Back to Unedited Philosophy Quotes and Ramblings about Intequinism.

Title: Politics

Author: Aristotle

Translator: Benjamin Jowett (1885)

Publisher: Dover

Place: Mineola, New York

Year: 2000


8 October 2016

About Book II Davis (2000: 9) wrote: "Among theorists, Plato in the Republic raises the most fundamental questions. He desires to abolish private property and the family (c.1). But the end which he has in view is wrong. He  wishes to make all his citizens absolutely alike; but the differentiation of function is a law of nature. There can be too much unity in a state (c.2). And the means by which he promotes unity is wrong. The abolition of property will produce, not remove, dissension. Communism of wives and children will destroy natural affection (c.3). Other objections can be raised; but this is the fatal one (c.4). To descend to details. The advantages to be expected from communism of property would be better secured if private property were used in a liberal spirit to relieve the wants of others. Private property makes men happier, and enables them to cultivate such virtues as generosity."

Davis seems to be in the same state as Rousseau, with his pity, whilst excluding Love. Maybe the best policy would be that 'all' people should create their own intellectual property and land should be more common, than is currently the case, to supply the "wants" of those who do not create their own intellectual property. On the other hand, maybe land would be used better, if controlled by people who can create intellectual property, which could increase land values.

"Hippodamus, who was not a practical politician, aimed at symmetry. In his state there were to be three classes, three kinds of landed property, three sorts of laws. He also proposed to (1) create a Court of Appeal, (2) let juries qualify their verdicts, (3) reward those who made discoveries of public property." (Davis 2000: 10)

"A state should consist of men who are equal, or nearly so, in wealth, in birth, in moral and intellectual excellence. The principle which underlies Ostracism is plausible. But in the ideal state, if a pre-eminent individual be found, he should be made a king (c.13)." (Davis 2000: 13)


14 October 2016

"Of the art of acquisition then there is one kind which is natural and is a part of the management of a household. Either we must suppose the necessaries of life to exist previously, or the art of the household management must provide a store of them for the common use of the family or state. They are the elements of true wealth; for 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.'

But there is a boundary fixed, just as there is in the arts; for the instruments of any art are never unlimited, either in number or size, and wealth may be defined as a number of instruments to be used in a household or in a state." (Aristotle 2000: p.40; I.8.14; 1256b)

Different views about maximum profit exist. Does "for man" imply plural or singular "man"?


18 October 2016

"Laws were made by Solon and others prohibiting an individual from possessing as much land as he pleased". (Aristotle 2000: p.73; II.7.6; 1266b)


20 October 2016

"To reward those who discover anything which is useful to the state is a proposal which has a specious sound, but cannot safely be enacted by law, for it may encourage informers, and perhaps even lead to political commotions. This question involves another. It has been doubted whether it is or is not expedient to make any changes in the laws of a country, even if another law be better. Now, if all changes are inexpedient, we can hardly assent to the proposal of Hippodamus; for, under pretence of doing a public service, a man may introduce measures which are really destructive to the laws or the constitution. But, since we have touched upon this subject, perhaps we had better go a little into detail, for, as I was saying, there is a difference of opinion, and it may sometimes seem desirable to make changes." (Aristotle 2000: p.80; II.8.16; 1268b)

"Hippodamus of Miletus (/hɪˈpɒdəməs/; Greek: Ἱππόδαμος ὁ Μιλήσιος, Hippodamos ho Milesios; 498 – 408 BC), was an ancient Greek architect, urban planner, physician, mathematician, meteorologist and philosopher and is considered to be the “father” of urban planning, the namesake of Hippodamian plan of city layouts (grid plan). He was born in Miletus and lived during the 5th century BC, on the spring of the Ancient Greece classical epoch. His father was Euryphon.

According to Aristotle, Hippodamus was the first author who wrote upon the theory of government, without any knowledge of practical affairs.[1]

His plans of Greek cities were characterised by order and regularity in contrast to the intricacy and confusion common to cities of that period, even Athens. He is seen as the originator of the idea that a town plan might formally embody and clarify a rational social order." (From: on 20 October 2016)

"From Hippodamus came the earliest notions of patent law.[6] Hippodamus proposed that society should reward those individuals who create things useful for society. Aristotle criticized the practical utilitarian approach of Hippodamus and implicated the inherent tension in rewarding individuals for doing good; i.e. that by rewarding individuals for doing good, the individuals will do good for the reward over the benefit of the state. The state could actually suffer because of the allure of individual rewards, since individuals may propose notions that weaken the state. Aristotle essentially foreshadowed the inherent tension between private rewards for social benefits - the potential diversion between individual and societal interests. Aristotle's greatest criticism of Hippodamus, however, is that rewarding individuals "who discover something advantageous for the city ... is not safe, though it sounds appealing." For while innovation is of great benefit to the arts and sciences, "change in an art is not like change in law; for law has no strength with respect to obedience apart from habit, and this is not created except over a period of time. Hence the easy alteration of existing laws in favour of new and different ones weakens the power of law itself."[citation needed]

Hippodamus does not seem to have been involved in politics, but several writings attributed to him dealt with issues of the state, including Περί Πολιτείας (On the State), Περί Ευδαιμονίας (On Happiness), Πυθαγορίζουσαι Θεωρίαι (Pythagoras Theorems).[citation needed] " (From: on 20 October 2016)



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From: on 20 October 2016.

"He is referred to in the works of Aristotle, Stobaeus, Strabo, Hesychius, Photius, and Theano.

He evidently had a reputation as a lover of attention. According to Aristotle's description in Politics, "Some people thought he carried things too far, indeed, with his long hair, expensive ornaments, and the same cheap warm clothing worn winter and summer."[2]" (From: on 20 October 2016)




"For the law has no power to command obedience except that of habit, which can only be given by time, so that a readiness to change from old to new laws enfeebles the power of the law." (Aristotle 2000: p.81; II.8.24; 1269a)

Aristotle here did not consider the logic of universal laws of social contract theory. Not-doing like not-doing.


"For, during the wars of the Lacedaemonians, first against the Argives, and afterwards against the Arcadians and Messinians, the men were long away from home, and, on the return of peace, they gave themselves into the legislator's hand, already prepared by the discipline of a soldier's life (in which there are many elements of virtue), to receive these enactments. But, when Lycurgus, as tradition says, wanted to bring the women under the laws, they resisted, and he gave up the attempt. They, and not he, are to blame for what then happened, and this defect in the constitution is clearly to be attributed to them. We are not, however, considering what is or is not to be excused, but what is right or wrong; and the disorder of the women, as I have already said, not only of itself gives an air of indecorum to the state, but tends in a measure to foster avarice." (Aristotle 2000: p.84; II.9.11; 1270a)


21 October 2016

"Now what is just or right is to be interpreted in the sense of 'what is equal'; and that which is right in the sense of being equal is to be considered with reference to the advantage of the state, and the common good of the citizens. And a citizen is one who shares in governing and being governed. He differs under different forms of government, but in the best state he is one who is able and willing to be governed and to govern with a view to the life of virtue.

If, however, there be some one person, or more than one, although not enough to make up the full complement of a state, whose virtue is so pre-eminent that the virtues or the political capacity of all the rest admit of no comparison with his or theirs, he or they can be no longer regarded as part of a state; for justice will not be done to the superior, if he is reckoned only as the equal of those who are so far inferior to him in virtue and in political capacity. Such an one may truly be deemed a God among men. Hence we see that legislation is necessarily concerned only with those who are equal in birth and in power; and that for men of pre-eminent virtue there is no law--they are themselves a law. Any one would be ridiculous who attempted to make laws for them: they would probably retort what, in the fable of Antisthenes, the lions said to the hares ['where are your claws?'], when in the council of the beasts the latter began haranguing and claiming equality for all. And for this reason democratic states have instituted ostracism; equality is above all things their aim, and therefore they ostracize and banish from the city for a time those who seem to predominate too much through their wealth, or the number of their friends, or through any other political influence." (Aristotle 2000: p.129; III.13.12; 1284a)

"The principle, however, has not been fairly applied in states; for, instead of looking to the public good, they have used ostracism for factious purposes." (Aristotle 2000: p.131; III.13.23; 1284b)

"The only alternative is that all should joyfully obey such a ruler, according to what seems to be the order of nature, and that men like him should be kings in their state for life." (Aristotle 2000: p.132; III.13.25; 1284b)

"Hence it is evident that in seeking for justice men seek for the mean or neutral, and the law is the mean." (Aristotle 2000: p.140; III.16.8; 1287b )

"If, as I said before, the good man has a right to rule because he is better, then two good men are better than one: this is the old saying,--

'two going together;'

and the prayer of Agamemnon,--

'would that I had ten such counsellors!' (Aristotle 2000: p.141; III.16.10; 1287b)

"But when a whole family, or some individual, happens to be so pre-eminent in virtue as to surpass all others, then it is just that they should be the royal family and supreme over all, or that this one citizen should be king of the whole nation. For, as I said before, to give them authority is not only agreeable to that ground of right which the founders of all states, whether aristocratical, or oligarchical, or again democratical, are accustomed to put forward (for these all recognize the claim of excellence, although not the same excellence), but accords with the principal already laid down. For it would not be right to kill, or ostracize, or exile such a person, or require that he should take his turn in being governed." (Aristotle 2000: p.143; III.17.5; 1288a)


22 October 2016

"A fifth form of democracy, in other respects the same, is the in which, not the law, but the multitude, have the supreme power, and supersede the law by their decrees. This is a state of affairs brought about by the demagogues. For in democracies which are subject to the law the best citizens hold the first place, and there are no demagogues; but where the laws are not supreme, there demagogues spring up. For the people becomes a monarch, and is many in one; and the many have the power in their hands, not as individuals, but collectively. Homer says that, 'it is not good to have a rule of many', but whether he means this corporate rule, or the rule of many individuals, is uncertain. And the people, who is now a monarch, and no longer under the control of law, seeks to exercise monarchical sway, and grows into a despot; the flatterer is held in honour; this sort of democracy being relatively to other democracies what tyranny is to other forms of monarchy. The spirit of both is the same, and they alike exercise a despotic rule over the better citizens. The decrees of the demos correspond to the edicts of the tyrant; and the [own emphasis] demagogue is to the one what the flatterer is to the other. Both have great power--the flatterer with the tyrant, the demagogue with democracies of the kind which we are describing. The demagogues make the decrees of the people override the laws, and refer all things to the popular assembly. And therefore they grow great, because the people have all things in their hands, and they hold in their hands the votes of the people, who are ready to listen to them. (Aristotle 2000: p.156; IV.4.25; 1292a)

"Among Barbarians there are elected monarchs who exercise a despotic power; despotic rulers were also elected in ancient Hellas, called Aesymnetes or dictators. These monarchies, when compared with one another, exhibit certain differences. And they are, as I said before, royal, in so far as the monarch rules according to law and over willing subjects; but they are tyrannical in so far as he is despotic and rules according to his own fancy." (Aristotle 2000: IV.9.2; 1295a)


24 October 2016

"And since innovations creep in through the private life of individuals, there ought to be a magistracy which will have an eye to those whose life is not in harmony with the government, whether oligarchy or democracy or any other." (Aristotle 2000: V.8.13; 1808b)


26 October 2016

"Let us acknowledge then that each one has just so much of happiness as he has of virtue and wisdom, and of the virtuous and wise action. God is a witness to us of this truth; for he is happy and blessed, not by reason of any external good, but in himself and by reason of his own nature." (Aristotle 2000: VII.1.10; 1323b)



Page 247, VI.5, 1320a, no.3.

"The demagogues of our own day often get property confiscated in the law-courts in order to please the people. But those who have the welfare of the state at heart should counteract them, and make a law that the property of the condemned which goes into the treasury should not be public but sacred." (Aristotle 2000: VI.5.3; 1320a)

See also other references to ostracism in the index.

Although Aristotle admits in the book that virtuous leadership, which he corroborated with aristocracies and good kings, makes the best governments, he argues with oligarchies and democracies in favour of Caiaphas syndrome. He also wrote that more than one good leader is better than one only, but he argues that virtuous leaders ar e such a minority that equality of his "democracy" justifies that Being be ostracised.  His mean justifies his opinion according to him.



DAVIS H.W.C.  2000.  Analysis.  In: Aristotle.  2000.  Politics, pp.7-24.  Mineola, New York: Dover Publications.

ARISTOTLE.  2000.  Politics.  References to Bekker's 1st edition included. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications.