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Aristotle

SelectionsfromthePolitics
Heywonderfulpeople!BelowaresomeselectionsfromAristotlesPolitics.The
selectionsbelowdemonstrateAristotlesideasaboutwhatapersons(herereferredto
asman)soulconsistsofOnceweunderstandAristotlesassumptionsabout
whatapersonis,wecanthengetintounderstandinghisargumentsforwhatthebest
formofgovernmentis.Thesearesomewhatdifficultpassages,meanttochallengeyou
allabit.Wrestlewiththemandcomepreparedtodiscusstomorrow.Mr.McIntosh
Nowthesoulofmanisdividedintotwoparts,oneofwhichhasarationalprinciplein
itself,andtheother,nothavingarationalprincipleinitself,isabletoobeysucha
principle.Andwecallamaninanywaygoodbecausehehasthevirtuesofthesetwo
parts.Inwhichofthemtheendismorelikelytobefoundisnomatterofdoubttothose
whoadoptourdivision;forintheworldbothofnatureandofarttheinferioralways
existsforthesakeofthebetterorsuperior,andthebetterorsuperioristhatwhichhasa
rationalprinciple.
Thewholeoflifeisfurtherdividedintotwoparts,businessandleisure,warandpeace,
andofactionssomeaimatwhatisnecessaryanduseful,andsomeatwhatishonorable.
Andthepreferencegiventooneortheotherclassofactionsmustnecessarilybelikethe
preferencegiventooneorotherpartofthesoulanditsactionsovertheother;theremust
bewarforthesakeofpeace,businessforthesakeofleisure,thingsusefulandnecessary
forthesakeofthingshonorable.
Allthesepointsthestatesmanshouldkeepinviewwhenheframeshislaws;heshould
considerthepartsofthesoulandtheirfunctions,andaboveallthebetterandtheend;he
shouldalsorememberthediversitiesofhumanlivesandactions.Formenmustbeableto
engageinbusinessandgotowar,butleisureandpeacearebetter;theymustdowhatis
necessaryandindeedwhatisuseful,butwhatishonorableisbetter.Onsuchprinciples
childrenandpersonsofeveryagewhichrequireseducationshouldbetrained.
Wehavealreadydeterminedthatnatureandhabitandrationalprinciplearerequired,and,
ofthese,thepropernatureofthecitizenshasalsobeendefinedbyus.Butwehavestillto
considerwhetherthetrainingofearlylifeistobethatofrationalprincipleorhabit,for
thesetwomustaccord,andwheninaccordtheywillthenformthebestofharmonies.
Therationalprinciplemaybemistakenandfailinattainingthehighestidealoflife,and
theremaybealikeevilinfluenceofhabit.Thusmuchisclearinthefirstplace,that,asin
allotherthings,birthimpliesanantecedentbeginning,andthattherearebeginnings
whoseendisrelativetoafurtherend.Now,inmenrationalprincipleandmindarethe
endtowardswhichnaturestrives,sothatthebirthandmoraldisciplineofthecitizens
oughttobeorderedwithaviewtothem.Inthesecondplace,asthesoulandbodyare
two,weseealsothattherearetwopartsofthesoul,therationalandtheirrational,and
twocorrespondingstatesreasonandappetite.Andasthebodyispriorinorderof

generationtothesoul,sotheirrationalispriortotherational.Theproofisthatangerand
wishinganddesireareimplantedinchildrenfromtheirverybirth,butreasonand
understandingaredevelopedastheygrowolder.Wherefore,thecareofthebodyoughtto
precedethatofthesoul,andthetrainingoftheappetitivepartshouldfollow:nonethe
lessourcareofitmustbeforthesakeofthereason,andourcareofthebodyforthesake
ofthesoul.
Noonewilldoubtthatthelegislatorshoulddirecthisattentionabovealltotheeducation
ofyouth;fortheneglectofeducationdoesharmtotheconstitution.Thecitizenshouldbe
moldedtosuittheformofgovernmentunderwhichhelives.Foreachgovernmenthasa
peculiarcharacterwhichoriginallyformedandwhichcontinuestopreserveit.The
characterofdemocracycreatesdemocracy,andthecharacterofoligarchycreates
oligarchy;andalwaysthebetterthecharacter,thebetterthegovernment.
Therearethreethingswhichmakemengoodandvirtuous;thesearenature,habit,
rationalprinciple.Inthefirstplace,everyonemustbebornamanandnotsomeother
animal;so,too,hemusthaveacertaincharacter,bothofbodyandsoul.Butsome
qualitiesthereisnouseinhavingatbirth,fortheyarealteredbyhabit,andthereare
somegiftswhichbynaturearemadetobeturnedbyhabittogoodorbad.Animalslead
forthemostpartalifeofnature,althoughinlesserparticularssomeareinfluencedby
habitaswell.Manhasrationalprinciple,inaddition,andmanonly.Whereforenature,
habit,rationalprinciplemustbeinharmonywithoneanother;fortheydonotalways
agree;mendomanythingsagainsthabitandnature,ifrationalprinciplepersuadesthem
thattheyought.Wehavealreadydeterminedwhatnaturesarelikelytobemosteasily
moldedbythehandsofthelegislator.Anythingelseistheworkofeducation;welearn
somethingsbyhabitandsomebyinstruction.