What the Editors Are Reading: November 2020

The Politics may be the most influential study of political theory and political practice ever written.

Aristotle put the book together while investigating different regimes in the Greek world and elsewhere. The philosopher denies the existence of an ideal government applicable to all societies; instead, he looks at various governments that are appropriate for different peoples in different situations.

1120-WtEAR-1Monarchies and mixed regimes that combine democratic and oligarchic features are said to offer stability for most Greek societies, but Aristotle also believes the Greek world can aim at aristocracy (literally rule by the most capable) and the polis, a regime in which those who are governed also govern their fellow-citizens. In Books Seven and Eight we learn about a hypothetical ideal regime and about how the young would be educated to uphold it. This construction too derives from the Greek ideal of self-rule.

In The Politics there is a detailed discussion of the excellence (arete) that is essential for holding political office. In Book One, for example, Aristotle focuses on the household (oikonomia), as the smallest governing unit. The male head of the household should exhibit virtues and...

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