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education, the life of man as a citizen, is but a prepa-
ration for the highest activity, which, because it is
highest, must necessarily be an end in itself. This
activity, Aristotle argues, can be none other than con-
templation, the Vision of the Divine

Results which have moved the world followed
logically from this doctrine. Whereas Plato had made
provision for a small and select body of super-civic
men, and s paved the way for religious monasticism
and asceticism, Aristotle maintains that in every


civilized man, as such, there is a super-civic part,
in fact, a superhuman and divine part, for the com-
plete realization of which all the other parts, and the
State wherein they find expression, are but means.
Here we have, in embryo, the whole of Dante's
theory of the relation of Church and State, a theory
which lies at the basis of all modern political effort,
however little the fact may be recognized. Here,
indeed, we have the whole framework of the Divine
Comedy ; here too we have the doctrine of the Beatific
Vision, which for ages shaped and, to a large extent,
still shapes, the life of Christendom. Well might
Dante claim Aristotle as his master (see p. 153) ! Well
might the great doctors of the Church speak of him
as " The Philosopher," and as the "Forerunner of
Christ in Things Natural." In vain did Peter Earnus
and Luther and Bruno and Bacon depreciate or anath-
ematize him ! He is more powerful to-day in thought
and life than at any time for the last twenty-two

It may be asked how far, and in what form, Aris-
totle conceives the divine life to be possible for man
on earth. He answers that, though it cannot be per-
fectly or continuously realized here, it is in some
degree and for certain times attainable (see p. 161).
In so far as it is a social life, it is the life of friend-
ship or spiritual love (<iAia), to which he has devoted
almost two books of his Ethics, books which give us a
loftier idea of his personal purity and worth than
any other of his extant writings. He insists that
friendship is the supreme blessing (see p. 166), am
that "whatever a man's being is, or whatever


chooses to live for, in that he wishes to spend his
life in the company of his friends." It is even said
that Aristotle, while teaching in the Lyceum, gath-
ered about him a knot of noble youths and earnest
students, and formed them into a kind of community,
with a view to leading a truly spiritual social life.


Nature is the beginning of everything. ARISTOTLE.

Life is more than meat, and the body than raiment. JESUS.

The forces of the human passions in us, when completely re-
pressed, become more vehement; but when they are called into
action for short time and in the right degree, they enjoy a measured
delight, are soothed, and. thence being purged away, cease in a
kindly, instead of a violent, way. For this reason, in tragedy and
comedy, through being spectators of the passions of others, we still
our own passions, render them more moderate, and purge them
away ; and so, likewise, in the temples, by seeing and hearing base
things, we are freed from the injury that would come from the
actual practice of them. JAMBLICHUS.

Care for the body must precede care for the soul ; next to care
for the body must come care for the appetites ; and, last of all, care
for the intelligence. We train the appetites for the sake of the
intelligence, and the body for the sake of the soul. ARISTOTLE.

The practice of abortion was one to which few persons in
antiquity attached any deep feeling of condemnation. . . . The
physiological theory that the foetus did not become a living creature
till the hour of birth had some influence on the judgments passed
upon this practice. The death of an unborn child does not appeal
very powerfully to the feeling of compassion, and men who had not
yet attained any strong sense of the sanctity of human life, who
believed that they might regulate their conduct on these matters
by utilitarian views, according to the general interest of the com-
munity, might very readily conclude that prevention of birth was
in many cases an act of mercy. In Greece, Aristotle not only
countenanced the practice, but even desired that it shoiild be en-
forced by law, when population had exceeded certain assigned
limits. No law in Greece, or in the Roman Republic, or during the


greater part of the Empire, condemned it. ... The language of
the Christians from the very beginning was very different. With
unwavering consistency and with the strongest emphasis, they
denounced the practice, not simply as inhuman, but as definitely
murder. LECKY, European Morals.

Aristotle clearly saw that the strong tendency of the human race
to increase, unless corrected by strict and positive laws, was abso-
lutely fatal to every system founded on equality of property ; and
there cannot surely be a stronger argument against any system of
this kind than the necessity of such laws as Aristotle himself pro-
poses. ... He seems to be fully aware that to encourage the
birth of children, without providing properly for their support, is to
obtain a very small accession to the population of a country, at the
expense of a very great accession of misery. MALTHUS, Essay on

CONSIDERING Aristotle's views with regard to man,
his end, and the function of the State, we can have
little difficulty in divining the character and method
of his educational system. Man is a being endowed
with reason; his end is the full realization of this,
his sovereign and .distinguishing faculty; the State
is the means whereby this is accomplished.

Readers of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister will remember
the description, in the second part, of the Pedagogical
Province. Now, Aristotle's State might with entire
propriety be called a Pedagogical Province. In try-
ing to describe this State, and the manner in which
it discharges its function, it is difficult to know
where to begin, for the reason that, taken as a whole,
the State is both teaqher and pupil. It arranges I
the whole scheme of education, and is therefore /
related to it as cause; it is built, up by this scheme,
and is therefore related to it as effect. It comes,
accordingly, both at the beginning and at the end.


It is a university which arranges the entire scheme of
education, and is itself its highest grade. I shall try
to surmount this difficulty by distinguishing what the
State is from what it does, beginning with the former,
and ending with the latter.

With regard to what the State is, we have to con-
sider (1) its natural, (2) its social, conditions. The
former are climate, and extent, nature, and situation
of territory; the latter, number and character of in-
habitants, property regulations, distinction of classes,
city architecture, mode of life, government, and rela-
tions to other states.

Aristotle demands for his State a temperate cli-
mate, on the ground that a cold one renders men
strong and bold, but dull and stupid, while a hot one
renders them intellectual but effeminate. The best
climate is one that makes them at once brave and
intelligent. The territory must be extensive enough,
and fertile enough, to supply its inhabitants with all
the material conditions of life in answer to labor
which shall rouse, without exhausting, their energies.
It must face east or south, and be healthy, well-
watered, accessible from land and sea, and easily

As to the social conditions, Aristotle finds the most
important to be the number of citizens. And here
two things must be carefully borne in mind. (I),
He means by " State " a city with a small territory.
This is not, as has been erroneously supposed, his
highest social unity. He recognizes clearly the nation
(eOv&i) and the confederacy ((rv/A/i^x t/a ) 5 tm^ ne holds
that they exist merely for material ends, whereas the


end of the State is spiritual. (2) He means by " citi-
zen " a politician. A man is a citizen, not because he
is born or domiciled in a State, but because he is a
sharer in its functions. A State made up of mechan-
ics, no matter how great their number, would be a
small State, and one composed of slaves would be
no State at all. Thus, in estimating the size of
a State, we are to consider the character of its
inhabitants, their fitness for political functions, rather
than their number. Little Athens was a much larger
State than gigantic Persia on the field of Marathon.
Aristotle lays down that the number of citizens must
be large enough to insure independence, this being
essential to a Culture-State, and not too large to be
manageable. Besides the citizens, there will neces-
sarily be in the State a very large number of other
human beings, slaves, agriculturists, mechanics, sail-
ors for all these he excludes from citizenship on
the ground that they do not make virtue, that is, the
realization of reason, the end of their lives. Women,
in a sense, are citizens, if they belong to the families
of citizens ; but their sphere is the family.

With regard to property^, Aristotle begins by con-
sidering what things it is necessary for. These he
finds to be six, three private and three public. The
former are food (including clothing and shelter),
instruments of production, and arms; the latter are
public enterprises (civil and military), religion, and
law. These are the " necessaries " (dvayKcua) of a State,
for which it must duly provide. The most important
of all is religion, on which he everywhere lays great
stress. As to the distribution of property, he pro-


pounds a scheme which is half socialistic. All the
land is to belong to the State^ that is, .to the body of
the'free citizens. It is to be divided into two equal
portions, and one set apart for public, the other for
private, uses. The revenue from the public part is to
go for the support of religion (and law?) and of the
public tables, from which no citizen is excluded by
poverty. The private part is to be so divided that
each citizen shall have one lot near the city, and
one near the frontier. This will give him an interest
in defending the whole territory. Both parts are to
be cultivated by serfs or slaves, part of whom will
necessarily belong to the State, and part to private
individuals. Land-owning is to be a condition of
citizenship, and all citizens are to be forbidden to
exercise any form of productive industry. This last
rule, it is hoped, will prevent grievous inequalities of
wealth, and the evils that flow from them. A modest
competency, derived from his estate, is all that any
citizen should aim at. Only degraded people, inca-
pable of virtue, will crave for more.

Upon the distinction of_class_es__some light has
been already thrown. They are two ; the ruling and
the ruled. Aristotle holds that this distinction runs
through the^whole of nature and spirit, that it is
fundamental in being itself. It holds between God
and the universe, ^form_ and^atter, soul and body,
object and subject, husband and wife, parent and
child, master and slave, etc., etc. The ruling class
again is sub-divided into two parts, one that thinks
and determines (legislators and judges), and one that
executes (officials, officers, soldiers) ; while the ruled


is sub-divided into husbandmen, mechanics, and sea-
men (sailors, fishermen, etc.). All the members of
the ruled class are serfs or public slaves, working, not
for themselves, but for their masters. Aristotle holds
that they ought to be barbarians of different races,
and not Greeks.

The aro.hitecture of the city_ will in some degree
correspond to this social division. It will naturally
fall into three divisions, military, religious, and civil.
First of all, a city must have walls. These should
have towers and bastions at proper distances, and be
made as attractive as possible. The temples of the
gods and the offices of the chief magistrates should,
if possible, stand together on a fortified citadel, con-
spicuously dominating the entire city. Adjoining
this ought to be the Freemen's Square, reserved
entirely for the ruling class, and unencumbered by
business or wares of any sort. Here ought to stand
the gymnasium for the older citizens, who will thus
be brought into contact with the magistrates and
inspired with "-true reverence and freemen's fear."
The market-square must be placed so as to be conven-
ient for the reception of goods both from sea and
land. This comprehends all the civil architecture
except the mess-halls, of which we shall better speak
in the next paragraph.

The mode of life of the ruling class will necessarily
differ widely from that of the ruled. About the
latter Aristotle has nothing to say. He hopes for
little from that class beyond the possibility of being
held in contented subordination. As it has no politi-
cal life, all that is left to it is the life of the family.


The ruling class, on the contrary, live to a large
extent in public, and on public funds. They exercise
in public gymnasia and eat at public tables. The
chief magistrates have their mess-hall in the citadel ;
the priests have theirs close to the temples; the
magistrates, who preside over business matters, streets,
and markets, have theirs near the market-square,
while those who attend to the defences of the city
have tables in the towers. When not engaged in pub-
lic business, the citizens may meet in the Freemen's
Square and enjoy an open-air conversazione, with
music, poetry, and philosophy, in a word, Siaywy??, for
which our language has no even approximate equiva-
lent (see p. 33). In proportion as they advance in
years, the citizens enjoy more and more Siaywy?;, which,
indeed, is regarded as the end of life, here and

The government is entirely in the hands of the
free citizens, the legislative and deliberative power
being in those of the elders; the executive power,
civil and military, in those of the younger portion.
It is curious that, though Aristotle regards this as the
best possible arrangement under ordinary circum-
stances, he nevertheless believes that the happiest
condition for a State would be to be governed by
some divine or heroic man, far superior to all the
others in wisdom and goodness. He plainly considers
Pisistratus to have been one such man, and he perhaps
hoped that Alexander might be another.

The relations of the pedagogical State to other
States are, as far as possible, to be peaceful. Just
as all labor is for the sake of rest and Siaco so all


war is for the sake of peace; and that State is to be
envied which can maintain an. honorable independ-
ence without war. A cultured State will eschew all
attempts at conquest, and be as unwilling to tyrannize
over another State as to be tyrannized over by one.
At the same time, it will always be prepared for war,
possessing an army of well-trained, well-armed sol-
diers, and a well-manned, well-equipped fleet.

Such are the chief features of Aristotle's ideal
State, based, as he believes, on man's political nature
and the history of the past. Like all social ideals,
like heaven itself, as ordinarily conceived, it is a static
condition. Its' institutions are fixed once for all, and
every effort is made to preserve them. It is curious
to note in how many points it coincides with Xeno-
phon's ideal.

The purpose of the State is to educate its citizens,
to make them virtuous. Virtue is the very life-prin-
ciple of the State, and it does not depend, as other
conditions do, upon nature or chance, but upon free
will. The ideal State, like every other, must educate
with a view to its own institutions, since only in this
way can these be preserved. "And, since the State,
as a whole, has but one aim, it is evident that the
political education of all the citizens ought to be the
same, and that this is a matter for the State to attend
to, and not one to be left to. individual caprice, as is
now almost universally done, when every parent
attends to the education of his own children, and
gives them whatever schooling suits his own fancy."
For the education of those members of the State who
are not citizens the State makes no provision. They


learn their practical duties by performing them, and
are completely under the control of the citizens.
Aristotle makes the most vigorous efforts to prove -
that slavery has its justification in nature, which has
established between Greek and barbarian the relation
of master and slave (see p. 12). As woman belongs
to the family, and is only indirectly a citizen of the
State, her education is entrusted to the former insti-j
tution. The daughter is to be educated by the par-j
ents, and the wife by the husband, exactly as recom-j
mended by Xenophon.

Having concluded that education ought to be a
matter of State legislation, and the same for all the
citizens, he continues: "It remains to inquire what
shall be the nature of the education, and the method
of imparting it. ... The present state of education '
leaves this question in a perfect muddle, no One seem-
ing to know whether we ought to teach those subjects
which enable people to make a living, or those which
foster worth, or, finally, accomplishments. All have
had their advocates. In regard to those studies which
have worth for their aim, there is no general agree-
ment, owing to the fact that different people have
different views as to what kinds of worth are admir-
able, and consequently differ in regard to the means
to be employed for the cultivation of them. One
point, however, is perfectly clear, viz. that those
useful things which are necessary ought to be taught.
But it is equally clear that a distinction ought to be
made between liberal and illiberal studies, and that
only those" useful subjects ought to be taught which
<>o not turn those learning them into craftsmen. We


ought to look upon every employment, art, or study
which contributes to render the bodies, souls, or intel-
lects of free men unfit for the uses and practices of
virtue, as a craft. For this reason it is that we call
all those arts which lower the condition of the body
crafts, and extend the term to the money-making
trades, because they preoccupy and degrade the intel-
ligence. As to the liberal arts, to cultivate an
acquaintance with them up to a certain point is not
illiberal ; but any over-devotion to them, with a view
to attaining professional skill, is liable to the objec-
tions mentioned. It also makes a great difference for
what purpose we do or learn a thing. If a man does
a thing for his own, for his friends 7 , or for worth's
sake, it is not illiberal, whrrrnri^jfjhri dnon it ofttf^rr
for the sake of anybody ejse, he will be held to be
doing something mercenary or slavish. "

"Tnenext and^aTPlmportant question is, For what
end shall the State educate, for business #&& for
leisure? In answering this, Aristotle breaks entirely
away from the old Greek traditions, as well as from
Plato, and maintains that, while it must educate for
both, yet education for leisure is far more important,
than educajioii_for_business, and cites Nature as his
authority. "Nature itself demands," he says, "not
only that we should pursue business properly, but
that we should be able to employ our leisure ele-
gantly. If we must have both, we must; but leisure
is preferable to business, and our final inquiry must
be, in what sort of employment we shall spend our
leisure. It is useless to say that we are to spend it
in play, and that play is the end and aim of our life.


If this is impossible, and the truth is that the proper
place for play is in the midst of business (it is the
man who is toiling that requires recreation, which is
the aim of play, business being accompanied with
exertion and tension), then, in having recourse to
play, we must select the proper seasons for adminis-
tering it, just as if it were a medicine. Indeed, all
such movement of the soul is relaxation, and becomes
recreation on account of the pleasure which it affords.
Leisure, on the contrary, is considered, in and by
itself, to involve pleasure, happiness, and a blessed
life. These fall to the lot of those who have leisure,
not of those who are engaged in business. Those
who engage in business do so for some ulterior end
not realized in it, whereas happiness is itself an end
and, according to universal belief, brings, not pain
but pleasure. Of course, as to the nature of this
pleasure, there is at present a variety of opinions,
every one having his own preferences due to his
character and habits, and the highest type of man
preferring the highest type of pleasure and that which
arises from the noblest things. We need no further
argument to show that we should receive instruction
and education in certain things with a view to otium
cum diynitate (or cultured leisure), and that these
should be ends in themselves, in contradistinction to
the instruction given for business, which is necessary
and has an ulterior aim."

Three principles Aristotle lays dawn_as_valid for
all education: (1) that the training of the body
ought to take precedence in time over that of the
mind; (2) that pupils should be taught to do things


before they are taught the reasons and principles of
them; (3) that learning is never playing, or for the
sake of playing.

The periods of education distinguished by Aristotle
are : (1) Childhood, extending from birth to the end of
the seventh year, and spent in healthy growing and,
latterly, in preparation for discipline ; (2) Boyhood,
from the beginning of the eighth year to the advent
of puberty, devoted to the lighter forms of discipline,
bodily and mental ; (3) Youth, from the age of puberty
to the end of the twenty-first year, occupied with the
severer forms of discipline ; (4) Manhood, devoted to
State duties. All these are but preparations for the
divine life of the soul. We shall treat these in order,
including the second and third under one head.


Suffer no lewdness or indecent speech

The apartment of tender youth to reach. JUVENAL.

Le cceur d'un homme vierge est un vase profond
Lorsque la premiere eau qu'on y verse est impure,
La mer y passerait sans laver la souillure ;
Car 1'abime est immense, et la tache est au fond.


THE State must begin the education of children be-
fore their birth ; indeed, before the marriage of their
parents. It must see that only persons of robust con-
stitutions marry. Athletes are not suited for marriage,
neither are weaklings. The best age for marriage is
thirty-seven for a man, and eighteen for a woman.
During their pregnancy women must' take special care
of their health, living on light food, and taking short
walks. The State should make a law that they visit
the temples of certain gods every day, and offer up a
prayer of thanksgiving for the honor conferred upon
them. They must carefully avoid all forms of emo-
tional excitement. When defective children are born,
they must be exposed or destroyed. The State must
determine what number of children each married
couple may have, and, if more than this number are
begotten, they must be destroyed- either before or after
birth. " As soon as children are born, it ought to be


remembered that their future strength will depend
greatly upon the nourishment supplied to them." A
milk diet is best, and wine must be avoided. " It is
likewise of great importance that children should
make those motions that are appropriate to their stage
of development. . . . Whatever it is possible to
inure children to, they ought to be subjected to from
the very outset, and gradual progress to be made.
Children, on account of their high natural warmth, are
the proper subjects for inurement to cold. These and
other points of the same nature are what ought to be
attended to in the first years of the child's life. In
the following years, up to the age of five, while chil-
dren ought not to be subjected to any instruction or
severe discipline, for fear of impeding their growth,
they ought to take such exercises as shall guard their
bodies from sluggishness. This may be secured by
other forms of activity as well as by play. Care must
be taken that their games shall be neither unrefined,

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Online LibraryThomas DavidsonAristotle and ancient educational ideals → online text (page 12 of 17)