ARISTOTLE, The Politics
(ca. 335 B.C.)
- I. THE BEST LIFE: ‘happiness'’ (‘happiness'’= `the good')
(a) External goods (property)
(b) Goods of the body (e.g. health, beauty)
(c) Goods of the spirit (mind)
"...each one has just so much of happiness as he has of virtue and wisdom, and of virtuous and wise ACTION."
- II. IS THE HAPPINESS OF THE STATE the same as the HAPPINESS OF THE INDIVIDUAL?
-"The Form of government is best in which every man can ACT best and live
-The life of action is better than the life of contemplation.
-It is unlawful to rule without regard for JUSTICE, for there may be ‘might’ where there is no
-War is only a means to an end, not an end in itself.
-Nothing is ‘good'’which is ‘contrary to nature.’
- III. WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR THE ‘PERFECT STATE’?
(1) POPULATION: `A great city is not to be confused with a populous one.'
‘...The best limit of the population of a state is the largest number which suffices for the purposes of
and can be taken in at a single view.’
(2) TERRITORY: ‘...such as may enable the inhabitants to live at once temperately and liberally, in the enjoyment of
(3) CHARACTER: ‘...the high-spirited and also the intelligent...’
‘...HAPPINESS is the highest good, being a realization and perfect practice of VIRTUE
--which some can attain,
while others have little or none of it. The various qualities of men are clearly the reason
why there are
various kinds of states and many forms of governments...’
- IV. WHAT ARE THE `NEEDS' of a STATE?
(f) justice (power of deciding what is in the public interest)
[NOTE: This is a special definition.]
- V. SHOULD EVERY CITIZEN HAVE HIS CHOICE OF OCCUPATION?
-Happiness depends on practicing VIRTUE; virtue requires justice (the more absolute the better).
The life of a businessman is not favorable to virtue. Thus some trades should not be practiced by citizens.
-LEISURE is necessary for the practice of virtue.
Thus, trades that do not allow (time for) virtue are not appropriate
trades for citizens.
[Retail trade is bad, since the middleman lies systematically to the producer (in getting his goods for less
than their worth), and to the purchaser (in selling them for more than their real worth). It is the ethics,
not the overhead, expenses, taxes, reasonable profits, etc. that count]