The title Politics literally means ‘the things concerning the city’. Here, Aristotle considers the important role that politics plays in the life of the community and its contribution to harmonious and virtuous existence.
It is divided into eight books and was a cornerstone in political philosophy for centuries despite certain features - including attitudes towards slaves and women - clearly placing its conclusions and advice within the confines of Athenian society of the fourth century BCE. Aristotle’s fundamental view is that the individual needs the city more than the city needs the individual, not least because a well-ordered city-state offers obvious benefits beyond simply self-protection and commerce. It makes possible a broader life, allowing in addition education and leisure, leading its citizens towards a life of virtue.
In book two, Aristotle considers the best regime for the city, looking at the three main forms of his time - democracy, oligarchy/aristocracy and monarchy. He considers the qualification to be a citizen and participate in the political process - offering a wider view than Plato, for example.
Revolution, change, constitutional developments, insurrections - these issues of instability are discussed with references to specific examples. And in later books he proposes the conditions for the best state, the ideal state, ‘for a state is not a community of living beings only, but a community of equals, aiming at the best life possible’.
Aristotle’s Politics is a seminal text and is read here by Andrew Cullum with clarity and purpose. Translation: Benjamin Jowett.
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- Andrew George
I suspect a poor translation
Slogging through 11 hours of classic text has no function aside from abstract historical context. I mean this in a way that a reference to a given work can be used as an expression of information and possibly debated. Unfortunately, this audiobook feels like a game of telephone. While not modern, it is partially contemporary, partially antiquated and all grammatically identifiable. This is unfortunate as I would have picked up the rest of this series had it not felt like an English interpretation of a French version of an Italian translation.