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LIBRARY



OF THE



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



Class




ARISTOTLE'S POLITICS








PRIXTGD BY

SPOTTTSWOODE A\D CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
I.ON'DOX



THE POLITICS OF ARISTOTLE



INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS



BY



ANDREW LANG



(FROM BOLLAND AND LANG'S ' POLITICS ')



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LONDON
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.

1886

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CONTENTS.



ESSAY PAGE

* I. THE ' POLITICS ' OF ARISTOTLE ....

II. ARISTOTLE'S CONCEPTION OP POLITICAL SCIENCE . 4

III. ON SOME LEADING CONCEPTIONS OF ARISTOTLE . . 8

IV. THE GREEK CITY-STATE 16

V. TYRANNIES IN GREECE 25

VI. INTERNAL CAUSES OF VARIOUS FORMS OF THE STATE 32

VII. THEORY OF REVOLUTIONS 36

VIII. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS OF THE GREEK CITIES . 43

IX. CAUSES AFFECTING THE PERSONAL CHARACTER OF

THE CITIZENS . . 47

X. PRACTICAL AIMS OF ARISTOTLE 50

XI. SLAVERY, COMMERCE, AND THE LATER DEMOCRACIES 55

XII. ARISTOTLE'S IDEAL STATE 64

XIII. LAND-TENURE IN GREECE 76

XIV. THE ORIGIN OF SOCIETY . 90



218974



INTEODUCTOEY NOTES.



I.

THE f POLITICS ' OF AKISTOTLE.

THE POLITICS of Aristotle have a double value : they



contain the first really scientific discussion of the
origin7"tne elements, the constitution, and the condi-
tions of human society, and they are a storehouse of
information as to the facts of the history of Greece. It
is true that conscious reflection on the different shapes
and possible perfect form of the State, on its relations
to the Individual, and on its international rights and
duties, had been awake in Greece long before the age
of Aristotle. The great questions had been propounded
and discussed, the terminology had been almost fixed.
In the first place had arisen the early Lawgivers, Solon,
Charondas, Zaleucus, Philolaus whom we may call the
Judges and the early mystics, Pythagoras, Apollo's son,
Epimenides, the healer of souls, and Empedocles, who
were in a sense the Prophets of Hellas. The latter
possessed a secret of life, a certain method of conduct,
which they inculcated to disciples, who then formed
small communities within the cities of Sicily and Italy.

B






2 EARLY THEORISTS.

From these mystics Aristotle received, through tradi-
tion, many ideas, and, above all, the notion of the power
which the lawgiver has to direct the conduct of men to
, a moral end. From the example of the great Spartan
lawgiver Lycurgus, whom the Delphian Pythoness knew
not whether to address as God or as mortal, and from
the enduring influence which his system of almost
monastic discipline exercised on Sparta, Aristotle, like
other Greek writers on politics, drew the conclusion
that one man of impressive character, backed by the
^ influence of religion, might mould the characters of men
to a uniform type. Hence the recurrent idea of the
Lawgiver (vo^oOsr^s) who, with the help of the Delphian
oracle, is to fashion the spiritual lives of the citizens
towards a given end. Again, the Lawgivers who appear
on the horizon of really historical times, such as Solon,
had codified and committed to writing the unwritten
customs and dooms of early Greece ; and the ideas fixed
in these customs and dooms, ideas dating from the time
when the Chieftain-Priest was a living oracle of law,
greatly coloured the political speculations of Aristotle.

After the actual legislators came the amateur
theorists, like Phaleas and Hippodamus, who seem to
have tried, in a fashion, to buttress the old traditional
notions of. Greece, with the help of the new rational
doctrines, which we connect with the names of the
earlier sophists.

Still later appeared the wandering rhetoricians, dis-
turbing the repose of political custom, with arguments
drawn from abstract notions about Eight, Virtue,
Nature, Law, and so forth. These arguments were



t i

. i



AEISTOTLE AND HIS PKEDECESSOHS. 3

popularised by dramatists like Euripides, who made
bis characters speculate on duty and morality on the
stage, and who did for the new democracies what
Pindar and Theognis had done for the ancestral aris-
tocracies gave them poetic texts in support of their
ideas. Next Plato, in a variety of dialogues, had
sought after some permanent basis for morality, had
constructed an ideal state, had discussed almost every
difficulty which Aristotle handles, and one may almost
say had left, in beautiful scattered fragments, the
s notions which Aristotle tries to arrange into a scien-
tific body of doctrine. Plato had amplified the
teaching of Socrates, and had helped out reason by
imagination, by rhetoric, and by the invention of
myths, which like the gods in the plays appear
whenever there is a nodus vindice dignus. Xenophon
had discussed the constitution of Sparta with par-
tisan admiration, and had treated of the commercial
democracy of Athens, and pointed out the way to
make her more wealthy and indolent than ever, with
the irony of a man of high birth and education, a
soldier and a sportsman. Acquainted, as we may
believe, with all or most of these writings, and with
the political thought of Thucy elides, and not un-
influenced by any of them, Aristotle went to work to
build up a philosophy of human society, which should
neither depend wholly on old traditional wisdom,
nor be a series of empirical maxims, a moyen de
parvenir in politics, nor rest upon poetic imagina-
tion ; but should be founded on a collection of facts,
and on the teaching of historical experience. Quite

B 2



4 HIS CONCEPTION OF POLITICAL SCIENCE.

unlike Plato, he determined to discard no institution
as the Family, and Property which immemorial use
approved. He would introduce nothing new, nothing
which had to be based on a myth, for he probably
, perceived that myths had been invented to account for
*" institutions already sacred, and that no new custom
could be made sacred by being grounded on an equally
new myth. Thus he neither rejects anything dear to
men (ajaTTTjrov} from of old, nor brings in a new
. like the Enthusiasm of Humanity.



II.

ARISTOTLE'S CONCEPTION OF POLITICAL SCIENCE.

BEFORE entering on the study of Aristotle's scientific

philosophy of the State, it may be well to ask what he

meant by his science ; and further, whether he was

mis taken in thinking that a science of Politics is possible

at all. Now if by .political science be understood a

knowledge of the general laws of human nature, acting

in political associations, and of the effects of variable

causes, such as the influence of great men, sufficient to

enable the philosopher to predict, and if he chooses to

alter the development of history, we may say that Aris-

v totle did not consider this science possible, and did not

attempt to construct it. If he had made any such preten-

l| sion's his own failure would be obvious. He lived in an

[' age of slavery, and far from foretelling a day when slavery



PLACE OF POLITICAL SCIENCE. 5

should fall into discredit and disuse, he gave it a place
among the ' natural ' institutions of society, such as
property and the family, and left it there. He lived
in a country of small city states, and in a time when
the spirit of these states had departed, when their
liberty had well-nigh perished, and he proposed no
scheme of union, and looked forward to no such fresh
order of things as the Eoman Empire, or the national
system of modern Europe, or even to such a federation
as the Achaean League. Such a new and striking
factor in politics as the beginning of the Macedonian
Empire seems to attract his attention indeed, but gets
no notice in detail. Again, although the military age
of Grreece was practically past, he did his best to dis-
courage industrial development, and left a stigma on
commerce and on credit which still clings to them.
What, then, did Aristotle mean by 77 TTO\LTIKIJ political
science ? What was his idea of its scope, its aim, and
its method ? In the first place, he gives this science
the loftiest rank in the hierarchy of sciences ; it is 77
KUpLcoraTrj Kal fjLaXiara dp%(,TSKTOi>ifcr). 1

Political science takes this lofty place, because the
matter which it deals with is the noblest. That matter is
the nature of Man, and of Man too in his highest rela-
tions, in the conditions within which alone he attains
his most perfect, his almost divine development,
namely, as the free citizen of a free state. The end of
this science is like that of all sciences the attainment
of good, but of good in its brightest form, the form of
Justice. 2 Now Justice here is only another name for the
1 Ethics,i. 2, 5. 2 Pol. ni. 12, 1.



7





6 STUDY OE FACTS.

common weal ; or, in other words, the end of political
science is to discover the conditions under which every
citizen will be able to secure the most free and perfect
development of himself, consistent with the good of the
State, without impediment in harmonious circumstances.
But as this ideal harmony of circumstances is not always
to be found, it is the practical duty of political science to
study the almost infinite diversity of existing circum-
stances, ' for there is not one sort of democracy or one
sort of oligarchy only,' and to suggest the adaptation
of institutions to facts which have come into existence
through different laws of historical necessity. 3 Laws
must be made for states, not states for laws. Therefore
untiring study and collection of facts are necessary. The
nature of political science, and its scope, as conceived
/ of by Aristotle, are now apparent. It is the science
/ which observes man in the sum of his relations, as
\ historically exhibited in his institutions. It is a science
based on the collection of facts, and on the discrimina-
tion of countless shades and gradations in the evolution
of the various forms of government. And it is the
science which, having thus obtained a clear and critical
conception of man's needs and powers, applies that
conception to his institutions, and attempts to bring
them into harmony with circumstances. Again, it is
the science which constructs, as a type and example, a
model of the ideal state in which men might reach
perfection, if perfection could ever be reached by more
than an isolated person, here and there in the world.
Sometimes the brightness of this ideal conception blinds

3 Pol. iv. i, 11.



1 COMPARATIVE POLITICS.' 7

Aristotle to the value of the ordinary civic life of
Greece, and draws him away from realities. But
Aristotle always has history and historical development
present to his mind ; he has a fact for every assertion ;
he is keenly alive to the immense variety, the many
differences in institutions which come under the same
general name, such as Democracy, Liberty, Tyranny,
and so on. It is in his continual reference to history
and to fact that he is most instructive. His collection
of the constitutions of one hundred and fifty-eight
Greek states, and his researches into the customs of
barbarous tribes, with his habit of making these customs
throw light on the earlier institutions of Greece, give him
a place among students of what we now call Compara-
tive Politics. Aristotle is not satisfied with saying, like
one of the characters in Plato's ' Eepublic,' that ' there
are reported to be many and absurd forms of govern-
ment among barbarians.' He notes the constitutional
kingship of the Molossi ; he remarks on an early Greek
custom like compurgation ; on the fact that the Greeks
used to buy their wives from each other; and he men-
tions some curious traits of savage manners. 4 Thus
Aristotle studied political life in the spirit of modern
criticism, and he treated many modern problems in a
scientific fashion. But his science has many precon-
ceptions and prejudices, his method many peculiarities,
his field of observation many necessary limits ; and all
these combine to make him seem remote, out of date,
and difficult of comprehension to modern readers:
It is therefore needful first to give an account of

4 Rep. 544 ; Pol. v. 10, 8 ; vii. 2, 11 ; ii. 8, 20.



8 SOME PRECONCEPTIONS.

Aristotle's Method, and of his preconceptions, and then
to trace in history the development of the Greek City-
state to which his speculation is confined.



III.

ON SOME LEADING CONCEPTIONS OF ARISTOTLE.

IN reading the 'Polities' of Aristotle we meet with many
arguments which appear either to want force altogether,
or to depend for their force on some conception not
stated, or on some premise taken for granted as if it
were generally known and admitted by everyone.
There seems to be a store of ideas in the background,
which no one is expected to dispute, and which Aristotle
appeals to with confidence. When he has brought a
theory within the reach of one of these conceptions,
such as Nature, Measure, the End, Order, he is satisfied
that he has made his point. Some of these conceptions
are tolerably familiar to us, others less familiar, or even
strange ; some of them are parts of Aristotle's general
/system, for it must never be forgotten that jais ' Politics '
\J I is only one stone, a corner-stone, in a whole theory of
I knowledge f some, again, may be called Greek common-
places, notions that were parcels of the mind of Greece ;
and some are part of Aristotle's inheritance from the
older philosophers, such as Pythagoras and Anaxagoras.
Then there are processes of argument which do not
seem always convincing to us, especially the argument
from the analogy of the arts, with conclusions in the



METHOD. 9

sphere of politics. Again, there is a strong belief in
the power of the Legislators, to whom the Greeks
were wont to attribute such arrangements as the crvcr-
<rma, the early distributions of land, and so on-
arrangements which we believe to have been produced
by circumstances, before the age of law, out of the
remains of tribal customs. Further, there is the
tendency in Aristotle which we may almost call mystic
the tendency to look now to an ideal life of
political virtue, now to an ideal life of philosophic
contemplation, or to a blending of both, as the best
for individuals and for the State. Besides all this, there
is the obscurity arising from a method of arguing in
^ which aTTopla^ or difficulties, are put forward, while the
question is not definitely settled, but is relegated to

some later portion of the ' Politics.'

*""

On the wholefthe method of Aristotle may be called
analytical, with a view to a later synthesis. He will exa-
mine the ultimate units, the elements of every compound
existence, before pronouncing on the nature of the whole
which the elements make up. 5 In the ' Organon ' and
in the 'Ethics' he has analysed the psychological and
moral elements in the nature of the Individual ; and
in the ' Politics ' he begins by examining the component )
elements and the conditions of the State, as husband and I
wife, father and children, master and slave, owner and I
property, citizens of this rank and citizens of that lower
grade, as differentiated by such natural causes as birth,
wealth, occupation. But all the time that he is analys-
ing, Aristotle has present to his mind some very dis-

5 Pol. i. 2, i.



10 NATURE AND CONVENTION.

tinct ideas as to the nature of the whole, as to the
natural, unspoiled form of the State. These ideas are
the result of all sorts of factors, of aristocratic prejudice,
of traditional morality, and of a philosophic theory
about Nature, which it is necessary to understand.

Aristotle mentions among the devices of Sophists
the trick of ringing changes on the terms Nature, and
Law, or Conventional Institutions. The dialecticians
of Greece had discovered that ' the estimates of things
just and honourable, with which Political Science is con-
cerned, shift and vary so much, as to seem the result of
capricious enactment, rather than of Nature.' 6 In fact
the revolutionary thinkers of Greece laid much the same
stress on Nature (meaning thereby the presumed primitive
freedom from all authority of law, reason, and custom) as
Kousseau did in his ' Discourses on the Origin of Inequa-
lity among Men.' This is a common sort of reaction
against a complicated civilisation, founded on religious
and traditional beliefs which men have ceased to believe
in. Now the purpose of Aristotle was conservative, and
thus it became his object to prove that the institutions
he wished to preserve were not the result of capricious
enactment, but were founded on Nature. But Aristotle's
way of understanding Nature is just the reverse of
Kousseau's way, except when it suits his purpose to .shift
his ground, as in the disquisition on money and trade.

*

Nature is identical with the fulfilment, and final cause
of all progress to an end (97 S& <f)vcris TS\,OS KCLI ov svsfca). 7
Nature is matter fully fashioned and elaborated rather
than matter in the rough (/*a\\ov avrrj tpveis rrjs
6 Ethics, i. 3, 2. 7 Nat. Auscult. ii. 1, 10.



MEANING OF NATURE. 11

Man in a state of Nature is Man as Nature would have
him to be, that is, as Aristotle would have him to be, a
free warrior, statesman, and politician, at leisure, not a
savage, feeding on acorns. ' Nature seeks not only right
activity, but the power of living in noble leisure.'
Contrast this with Eousseau's State of Nature :
6 L'exemple des sauvages qu'on a presque tous trouves a
ce point, semble connrmef que le genre humain etoit
fait pour y rester toujours . . . et que tous les progres
ulterieurs ont ete en apparence autant de pas vers la
perfection de 1'individu, et en effet, vers la decrepitude
de Fespece.' 8 The contrast is particularly marked where
Rousseau denounces the man who invented property,
which Aristotle declares to be an institution suggested
by Nature and ' unspeakably sweet.' 9

In Aristotle's eyes, then, Nature is almost the un-
i conscious action of the will of the world, bringing all
. things into uniformity with limit and with right reason.
! The right reason of course is Aristotle's notion of what
' is best. Mr. Grote's way of stating the doctrine of
Nature makes the matter very clear, if we apply to
politics what is said of physics and metaphysics.
' There are in the sublunary bodies ' (in which form is
implicated with matter) ' both constant tendencies and
variable tendencies. The constant Aristotle calls
" Nature," which always aspire to (rood, or to the reno-
vation of Forms as perfect as may be, though impeded
in this work by adverse influences, and therefore never
producing anything but individuals comparatively

Di scours snr 1'origine de 1'inegalite parmi les liommes.
9 Pol. ii. 5, 8.



12 CONSTANT AND VARIABLE TENDENCIES.

defective, and sure to perish. The variable tendencies
he calls Spontaneity and Chance, always modifying, dis-
torting, frustrating the full purposes of Nature.' 10
If we apply this doctrine to politics, we find that the
matter is human character, and human circumstance,
which Nature fashions into the forms of the family and
the stateyThe constant tendencies in human character
"and circumstance make for good and for order. Such
a tendency is that which keeps all things in due subor-
dination of ruler and subject, which sets father over
-A0U*4$iild, master over slave, old over young, reason over
[46^ (J d passion, which makes the city wish to consist of equals,
hjL/^^i w ki cn when one man or one family is undeniably
Better than the rest, as gods are better than men, puts
kingly or aristocratic rule into their hands. Thus the
results of Nature's unchecked workings are the Family,
with due subordination of woman, child, and slave ;
the Monarchy, with due obedience to the one Grodlike
man, who alone contributes more to the stock of excel-
lence than all the others ; the Aristocracy, where a few
are equally pre-eminent ; and the Polity, where there
is a natural equality among the citizens. In all these
natural forms of rule government is exercised in the
interest of the natural ivhole, the State and citizens.
the other side are variable tendencies, contrary to

Nature, which ruin the subordination of families, which
j

induce men to take money, a mere instrument, for the
end of their life, which work for the overthrow of
natural slavery, which drive the one best man or the
ne best family out of the cities, which prevent the

10 Grote, Aristotle, i. 165.



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LIMIT. 13

State from consisting of equals, which, in short, produce
these abnormal and unnatural distortions called tyran-
nies^ democracies, and oligarchies, which govern in the
interest of an overgrown member of the whole. Thus
Nature is always being frustrated and defeated, and
from this point of view Aristotle's doctrine of the
decline of states is not so very far removed from the
scheme of Plato, with its fatal cycles of better and
worse.

Analogous to the idea of Nature in Aristotle is the
idea of the limit, TO Trspas, and of TO TrsTrspao-jjusvov, the
finite. Both these notions seem to be derived from the
Pythagorean catalogue of limit and limitless, odd and
even, one and many, good and bad, male and female,
and the rest, which became a sort of accepted canon
with Greek thinkers.

Limit and the infinite are the elements out of which
the orderly and knowable world is made. The infinite
is all disorder, confusion, a blur of undistinguishable
sensations, and in morals of masterless passions, till, by
the introduction of the limit, chaos is slowly made
orderly, and passions are formed into character. Apply-
ing, for instance, this conception to the question, is com-
merce a legitimate occupation ? Aristotle answers no, be-\
cause ovSsv SOKSL IT spas slvai, TT\OVTOV KOI KTrjcrsws, there
is no necessary limit to the acquisition of wealth. 11 Now
wealth is defined to be abundance of the instruments
necessary towards the independent life. These used
to be obtained by barter, and a man was satisfied
when he had enough of them, that sufficiency was the

11 Pol. i. 9, i.



14 LIMIT AND THE END.

Trspas. But when money was invented, and it was
commonly held that wealth meant abundance of money,
there was no natural irspas to the acquisition of coin,
aTTSipos Brj OVTOS 6 TrXouTos. But there is a deeper
reason than this for the fact that the endless acquisition
of wealth is unnatural. Desire of riches springs from
that character which thirsts insatiably for life, not for
the noble life, which seeks satisfaction in the chaotic
and infinite field of pleasure, without definite end,
not in striving after the limit and end of exist-
ence. 12 Here the limit (Wpas-), from another point
of view becomes identical with the end and aim of
life (the TS\OS). This rsXos is the same for the State
and for the individual, namely, happiness. No concep-
tion is more constantly in Aristotle's mind than this of
the End. From all past experience and history he lias
arrived at a fixed and luminous idea of what Nature
would have, what all her workings tend to. This is not
the life of men wandering in nomadic hordes, nor of
men living as husbandmen in scattered villages, nor of
great servile nations. The free wild tribes of the North
have no central engrossing interest and bond of life ; the
peoples of Asia are gifted with intellect and art, but they
are slavish. Hellas alone occupies the happy mean,
alone offers to men in the city-state an object for noble
action that must fill all their lives, and an environment
of free relationships in which to exercise virtue. The
State is the limit, beyond which Nature does not wish
to pass in the formation of political organisms. The
State in its perfection and the citizen in perfection are
12 Pol. i. 9, 17 ; Plato, Laws, 714.



PKACTICAL AND IDEAL END. 15

the end of her travail. Now that perfection is happi-
ness. But is the happiness to be that of practical
activity and the exercise of moral virtue, or that of
philosophical contemplation ?

The consideration of the TS\OS thus brings us to
what is a standing difficulty in reading Aristotle. He
seems to hesitate whether to recommend a possible life
of civic virtue and activity, or an ideal life of contem-
plation to men and states. The latter life answers to
the saintly life, the entrance into ' religion ; ' the former
corresponds to the knightly life of the Middle Ages.
As we have within us, he seems to say, the power of
raising some divine element to a momentary delight in
the divine reason, a momentary recognition of our
connection with divinity, ought we not to make this
our TS\OS ? Can this contemplative existence be com-


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