The book – Aristotle. Politics, translated by Carnes Lord (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2d ed., 2013)
Aristotle, Politics, I, 1-13
STUDY QUESTIONS 25
1) What is Aristotle’s argument for the naturalness of the city in Politics 1.1-2? Is it an “idealistic” or a “realistic” argument? (In gathering evidence for your answer to this question, be sure to read the chapter to the end.)
2) Aristotle’s argument that the city is natural also rests on the claim that the city arises out of other associations that are themselves natural. The first of these associations is that between master and slave. Aristotle is notorious for arguing that slavery is natural. You might then suppose that his teaching implies support for the slaveholders of his day in Athens and elsewhere. Does it offer them support?
3) The next allegedly natural association is that between husband and wife. Aristotle might seem (and has been widely condemned as) a “patriarchalist” because he affirms that the natural relationship of husband and wife is one of his rule over her. Yet he also says that this rule is neither despotic (like the rule of a master over a slave) nor kingly (like the rule of the parents over the children) but “political,” like rule among fellow citizens. Might this imply some doubts concerning the natural supremacy of the husband? (Aristotle defines political rule in Chapter 7 and expands on that definition in Chapter 12.)
4) The subject of Book One, Chapters 8-11 is what we would call economics. Modern economics aims at an expanding economy – in principle, as we saw already in Locke, an endlessly expanding economy. What does Aristotelian economics aim at?
ARISTOTLE TEACHING ALEXANDER THE GREAT, FROM AN ISLAMIC MANUSCRIPT IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM