Aristotle (384–322 BCE): Moral Action and the Best Constitution

Someone once said that in philosophy one can either be a Platonist or an Aristotelian. It is a difficult choice to make, especially in political philosophy. If the Platonic principle of combining philosophy with politics translates, as we saw in the previous chapter, into an anti-democratic regime, then is it not preferable to go with the Aristotelian definition of political rule as ruling and being ruled in turn? On the other hand, what is one to do with Aristotle’s staunch belief in natural hierarchies and his exclusion of slaves and women from his principle of political rule?

This fundamental difference between Plato and Aristotle is surprising, given that Aristotle was ...

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