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Aristotle's "Politics": A Symposium: Aristotle on Human Nature and Political Virtue

Author(s): Julia Annas


Source: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 49, No. 4 (Jun., 1996), pp. 731-753
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ARISTOTLE'SPOLITICS
A
SYMPOSIUM*

ARISTOTLE
ON HUMANNATURE
AND POLITICAL
VIRTUE
JULIAANNAS

ISTOTLE GIVES us an account


of (jy?oi? or nature
in the Physics
Ar
which
for his immediate
is adequate
little in
purposes
there, but gives

dication of his broad deployment

in the ethical and political works of

nature
the concept
of the natural. He never systematically
investigates
as an ethical
or political
he
not
done
he
could
have
Had
so,
concept.
failed to see that there are some
tensions
within
the roles he assigns
to the natural.
one
cluding
ical attitudes

He might
thereby
of his most
unfortunate

have

avoided

several

in

problems,

that of reactionary
polit
legacies,
to
often
in
Aristotle's
name,
nature,
appealed
in society,
such as slavery
and the sub
inequalities
existing
to Aris
of women.
Some
of this legacy has got attached

to uphold
ordination

which

have

to his works
to defend
race-based
forms of sla
unfairly;
appeals
own
are
for
Aristotle's
very,
example,
patently
specious.
However,
ar
in his ethical and political
lack of precision
about the role of nature
totle

must
bear some
guments
Nature
in the Politics
context

of

Miller's

Nature,

the book

of the responsibility.
has been most
studied
extensively
1 argument
that the polis
is "by nature."
and Rights

Justice,

in Aristotle's

*With the exception


of John Cooper's
essay and
at a conference
these papers were presented
focused
in Aristotle's
tice, and Rights
by
Politics, codirected
and Jeffery Paul with the support of the Liberty Fund,
to: Department
of Philosophy,
Correspondence
zona, 213 Social Sciences,
Bldg. #27, Tuscon, Arizona
The

Review

of Metaphysics

49

(June

1996):

731-53.

Copyright

Politics

in the
Fred

is a landmark

Fred Miller's response,


on Miller's Nature,
Jus
Charles L. Griswold,
Jr.
Inc.
The University
of Ari
85721.

1996

Metaphysics

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by The

Review

of

JULIAANNAS

732
as in many
in this respect
others,
of the polis
is, I think, definitive,
to Aristotle
that according
people

of the naturalness

and his discussion


and

should

put
their natural

find

an end

to the notion
as
functioning
in Ar
nature

end

social whole.
However,
large organic
parts in some
works
contains
and political
istotle's
ethical
complications
some points
to be made
that there remain
book
1, and I hope
sues to be elucidated.

mere

outside
is

and

and
in the ethical
tendency,
a
in
the
strand
Physics
particular
works,
political
con
to ignore it, and even to say things which
account
and sometimes
so with
is that
the idea that the natural
is notably
it. This
flict with
or for the most
discus
The main Physics
occurs
which
part.
always
source
an
of
internal
of
the
idea
around
which
revolves
changing
sion,
source

One

is Aristotle's

of confusion

to stress

sometimes

later.1
does not discuss
this, but it emerges
slightly
changed,
some
or
internal
nature
from
is natural
prin
if, starting
by
Something
the
towards
it
"always
something
going
continuously
develops
ciple,
or being

same

is the usual.
Thus the natural
if nothing
interferes."2
as an assumption,
but never
this emerges
expressed
assume
to
reasonable
it is
where
in the physical
works,

thing,
see why

can

fended,
the kinds

We
de
that

are due to its in


in which
that a thing can engage
of changes
will be
external
than
rather
of change,
ternal principle
interference,
or freakish
rather than by any imposed
revealed
by its usual behavior,
occurrences.

that
assumption
or for the most

this

works
way

always
to believe
difficult

for
gument
world
every
on

force

Greek

and

that

known

rather

polis

"nature
part,

society

from
than

could well

contained

the

to

chance

seemed

of what

political
is the same

ar
plays
In Aristotle's
and of slavery.
a
that
fact
clearly pre
slavery,

to Aristotle

it as an

institution

societies

other

to be,

Aristotle,

199bl5-18,

Physics

199bl5-18.
2Physics
specified.
3Aristotle, Eudemian
1194b37-9.

All

translations

Ethics

25-6;

cf. Aristotle,

are the author's,

1247a31-bl;

cf. Aristotle,

based
than

the

like the Persian

seem like

Empire, based on force. Thus the Greek polis might well

^ee
641b24-6.

It is

of the opposite."3
role in Aristotle's

no

being able to think of


nature.
Furthermore,
have

and

ethical

is the cause

this assumption
of the polis
the naturalness

Aristotle

vented

over

carries

Aristotle

Sometimes

Parts
unless

of Animals

Magna

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otherwise
Moralia

733

HUMAN NATURE AND POLITICAL VIRTUE


the

usual

to

form

Sometimes,
present.4
that
based on nature

when
develop
on the other
conflicts

with

were
conditions
interfering
an argument
hand, he develops
as
his
third
with
argu
this,
major
no

that only cer


the one that establishes
1 (chapters
8-10),
are natural.
of this ar
For the conclusion
of money-making
is
is one which
is that the only form of natural money-making
gument
to
be
whole
of
the
ancient
the
usual
for
it
rare; indeed,
extremely
the uppermost
to be revolutionized.
have
would
economy
Clearly

ment

in book

tain forms

in Aristotle's

idea

mind

here

not

is that of the natural

as the

found

not actually
ideal, something
reason
for the existence
One

as the usual
as it is.

in the world

of an unedifying
in the name of Aristotle

but

tradition

of reac

is surely his failure


to nature
appeals
as the usual and
nature
the role of
to analyze,
in his discussion,
clearly
an ideal.
Ifwe look at the no
from nature as providing
its distinctness
tionary

1with
in Politics
arguments
that while
the first two rely on the

torious

it leaps to mind
this point in view,
can be found
idea that the natural

is something
that the natural
to the usual,
the third argues
by looking
the argu
between
this difference
which
is not to be found.
However,
if na
Of course,
it deserves.
ments
has not been given the prominence
ture provides
can be found
draw

a number

of women
women

an

ideal,

this will

by looking
of familiar

is natural,

have

to the usual,

normative
then

no

force;
effort

are nearly always


to men,
subordinated
form of "appeal to nature" vigorously
simplistic
himself
does
Aristotle
like Mill and Sidgwick.5

if nature

is required
the subordination

conclusions:

reactionary
is to be endorsed
and hence

and

to

as a norm, because
so on. This is the

and

criticized
not make

by thinkers
this kind of

to the
those who do so have
looked
"appeal," but it is easy to see why
to re
fair
1 as support.
it
is
of Politics
first two arguments
Moreover,
more
as
for not having
open to criticism
carefully
thought
gard Aristotle

4Aristotle
of Greek civilization,
is thinking of the conditions
though he is
he considers
in book 2 of the Politics
not clear about this restriction:
while
in book 7
Carthage at length as an example of a type of constitution,
as in
to
for
he
write
off
reasons,
appears
non-Greeks,
differing
(1327b20-36)
capable of political development.
(However, he then adds that the same dis
tinctions that he has drawn between Greeks and non-Greeks
apply among the
Greeks themselves.)
5John Stuart
The Bobbs-Merrill
Company,
Mill, Nature
(Indianapolis:
1 of The Subjection
Hackett,
(Indianapolis:
1958); and chapter
of Women
of Ethics
1981),
(Indianapolis: Hackett,
1988); Henry Sidgwick, The Methods
80-2.

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JULIAANNAS

734
uses

his
between
relationship
and his uses of it in the ethical

about

the

works

use

in Aristotle's

in the

physical
and political
works.
is not the source
of all the complexities
In what
I shall be
in the Politics.
follows

this conflation

However,

of nature

of nature

us towards
one which
an
points
distinction,
of human
arises within
Aristotle's
nature,
concept
to works
the Politics.
outside

on another

concentrating

that
uncertainty
reference
without

7 Aristotle

In book

that for people

says

to become

virtuous

three

things are required: nature (cj)?oic), habit (eOo?), and reason (X,oyo?);
he

and

proper

but what

son,
he

as a preliminary
to his discussion
far longer on habit
He spends
for citizens.
The
is significant.6
here
says about nature
the

develops
education
he

of

idea

and

the
rea

subjects
and not
be human
first, must
beings
a cer
nature
of
human
other
requires
being
this here, be
kind of body and soul. He does not further specify
like by na
be
what
should
has
said
that
he
already
people
saying
to the law-giver."
take up this
"amenable
to be
(We shall
he says
with,
This same
animal.

is concerned

some
tain
yond
ture

he says, are not an ad


Some natural
endowments,
below.)
alter
for habits
are, as far as nature
qualities
them; some
vantage,
or
worse
habit.
for
better
and
through
develop
ambivalent,
goes,
live mostly
Other
animals
by nature,
though habit plays a small role;
reference

a striking
sentence:
"So these
do many
for people
with one another;
must
harmonize
things because
that to
if they are persuaded
their habits and nature,
of reason against
of nature,
Here
is better."7
do otherwise
habit, and reason
"harmony"
reason.

have

but humans

is compatible

with

reason

Then

going

of harmonization).
is what
I call
here

conception
Nature

follows

against
"mere

nature."8

of human

others; but
and reason
provided

they develop morally


that
and the ways

by nature.

This

idea

1332a38-bl0.
6See Politics
7
1332b6-8.
Politics
8Julia Annas, The Morality
Press,

not
these

(a remarkable

the basic
It is simply
its own reliable
having

so far from
beings, which,
can
in
be
built-in
quite opposite
developed
goals,
some
start
out
with
Human
and reason.
beings

material

two

the other

directions
tendencies

by habit
and not

but through habit


through nature,
on the raw material
get to work

of mere

of Happiness

nature

is more

(Oxford:

familiar

Oxford

1993).

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from

University

VIRTUE
HUMANNATUREAND POLITICAL
passages

in the Nicomachean

Ethics

full virtue.9

from

where

The

735

"natural

of nature

virtue"

is distin

that has

had most

concept
guished
in discussions
of the Politics
is the one that gets a star
prominence
is
role
in
book
and
different
from the raw material
clearly quite
1,
ring
be enough
to support
of mere
which
could never
the argu
nature,
ments

about

the naturalness

of the polis, slavery,


and certain
forms of
as that which
1 is itself a goal
in book
figures

Nature
money-making.
or end: "what we say the nature

of each

it is when
its
thing is, is what
Nature
here
is the end of the pro
nature
in this sense
is clearly norma

is completed."10
coming-into-being
not
the
cess,
Further,
beginning.
a
that
needs
for book
tive,
scarcely
point
argument
no
to
what
is
better and what worse,
explicitly
guide
doubt

that nature

proper

or nature

in the

full sense

1. Mere
while
does

nature
there

is

is no
a

establish

the appropriate
of a thing's devel
by virtue of being
end-point
to
not
This
is
restricted
book
within
7 and
books
opment.
1, however;
uses
8 themselves
in the more
there are frequent
of nature
familiar

norm,

of a thing's

sense

goal

or end, with

normative

implications.11

Aristotle himself does not explicitly distinguish these two uses of


nature,

although

they

differ

sufficiently

for

it to be as appropriate

him to draw the distinction as to draw the distinctions

for

that he does for

or one thing's
like place,
"from" another.
oneness,
concepts
being
uses of "nature"
in his philosophical
(His listing of different
lexicon,
our
is
not
is
for
since
it
concerned
purposes,
4,
Metaphysics
unhelpful
with

problems
and discusses

arising
only

from

physical

the ethical
applications

and

political
of nature.)12

use

of

the

term

dNicomachean
Ethics
1144M-12.
1103al8-26,
l0Politics
1252b32-33.
Here completion
in production
results
of a
in
reason
while
the
"mere
nature"
to
habit
and
need
passages
thing's nature,
it from raw material
towards a goal.
complete nature in order to develop
nSee Politics
1324b36-7
1332a21-4
and
1325b7-10,
(and 1325a27-30),
seem
and
1334M2-17
1342b22-8.
which
27-30,
24-5, 1337b28-33,
Passages
to stress mere
can be found at 1326a5-7,
nature
1327b 18-20 and 33-6,
and 17-18,
1328a9-10
1329al4-16,
1330a28-30,
1332a34-bll,
1332b35-41,
1337a3.
1334b6-8,1336b40in Physics
2 (nature as
12However, the chapter does add to the account
the internal source of change) the point that a thing's nature is both the mat
ter from which
or form which
the change begins and also the substance
is the
to the distinction
between
x?Xo? of the completed
change. This is analogous
mere nature and nature in the ethical and political works,
though Aristotle
never

connects

them.

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JULIAANNAS

736
the difference

Noting
us to solve
ture

some

in the Politics.

hence

political)
that virtue does

development
and exercise

can

overall

help
of na

behavior,
the potentiality
I shall
however,

nature,
sense.

full

habit

and

in books

of mere

need

while
the state ex
by reason)
a norm for human
the polis establishes
to activate
since
it is natural
for humans
directed

in the full sense:

Here,
1 but with

nature

the

problems
As Fred Miller

nature

makes

conflict
points
out,13 the apparent
that the polis exists by nature and that ethical
(and
once we note
virtue does not exist by nature dissolves
not come about
in us because
nature
of mere
(to be

we

virtuous

ists by nature

book

and mere

the use Aristotle

the thesis

between

come

nature

between
with

for social

and political
virtue.
not with
the problems
of
for Aristotle's
treatment
of human

be

concerned

that arise
problems
an explicit
7 and 8. Here we find, as noted,
discussion
awareness
of the role of nature
clear
together with
we

find

also

the closest

Aristotle

comes

in
to

However,
a bridge
two ideas of human
nature.
between
these
In his
of reason
and habit,14 he says that the telos
of the relation
so that
is reason
and mind
xai vo??),
(t??,o?) of human nature
(koyo?
form the goal of the ways
this is what
should
that habits
should be set

providing
discussion

That
human
is, mere
habit
and
but
reason,
by
to develop.15
for humans

nature

up.

had provided
mere
nature
about

length
sition can be

reason

a developmental
to nature,
but
education

Aristotle's
account
in Politics

of various

constructed.16

nature
into full human
is developed
in which
it is natural
is also the way
would
position
of the progress
7 and 8, where

kinds,
are
Humans

an overall
equipped

be

clearer

if he

of reason

from

he

is talking

at

po
developmental
to
nature
by mere

in Aristotle's
Politics
Justice
and Rights
13Fred D. Miller, Jr., Nature,
Press, 1995), 44-5.
(Oxford: Oxford University
(hereafter, NJR)
14SeePo????csl334b6-28.
sense: that of mere or full nature? If reason is just
15"Natural" in which
it into full nature,
else to develop
part of mere nature, itwill need something
if reason is part of our nature in the full sense, itwill be, in the requisite
while
way, distinct from the mere nature it needs to get to work on. Of course no
reason; that is why we need to proceed
body starts with a fully developed
patterns until we are capable of our
through habit, and to follow established
uses of reason.
own fully autonomous
for not
16In The Morality
of Happiness
(pp. 146-9) I criticize Aristotle
an overall developmental
account of reason as the path from mere
providing
of Arius Didymus' account of
nature to nature, contrasting
the later positions
theory in terms of a Stoicized
ethics, which does recast Aristotle's
Peripatetic
returns to a more
of Aphrodisias,
who
and Alexander
story of o?xekooic,
uses
two
not
account
which
leaves
the
Aristotelian
clearly connected.
strictly

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VIRTUE
HUMANNATUREAND POLITICAL
habit
but do not do so unless
virtue,
a rational
life and
of one's
direction

develop
produce

In the context

goods.
thesis

we

of the Politics

also

737
to
by reason
of external

is directed

employment
to remember
need

the

are by nature politika


and po
(jto?mxa)?social
reason
to pro
is directed
habit
it is only when
by
with
and politically
to engage
culturally,
socially,
the
Aristotle
identifies with
of society
po
(one which

that humans

litical

For

beings.

duce

dispositions
in a form

others

achieve
lis) that humans
This is an attractive
The

laries.

the goal

of natural

development.
some equally attractive
in which
for humans
is one

and has

thesis,

natural

development
is not a matter
of mindless
virtue, which
to
and act
choose
reflective
disposition

achieve

corol

they
but a de

habituation

disposition
rightly?a
veloped
on the results of ha
which
frees the agent from dependence
precisely
to capture
too narrow
and conventional
if these have been
bituation
of Aristotle's
ideal state will
for virtue.
Thus the citizens
what matters
be
tion.

choose

who

individuals

a state whose

Moreover,

as a result

act

and

citizens

at the common

be

of autonomous

will
virtuously
developed
than the good of one par
The politi
aims will mesh.

have
rather

good
just, aiming
so individual
and political
ticular faction;
cal culture of the ideal state will be one in which

as
the young
hence
virtuously,
uate

will

choices

development
will
exhibit

they

will

educated
and

in turn

Miller

reflection

the factors

that habit

them

to develop
virtuous

encourage
and

rationally,
a culture

reflectively
tend to propagate

of rational
what

are

which

in the citizens.

calls moderate

Thus

their

encourages
the ideal
the aim

individualism:

not

of each

state

reflec

the
state
of

the

a col

is the virtue,
and hence
individual,
happiness,
some
This char
of
less
than
others.17
that
partake
might
goal
a
state
meets
demand
that
citizen
virtue
the further
acterizes
which
lective

of political
exercise
require active
over
for political
rule is rule
equals,

rule, not mere


and hence
has

to law;
conformity
ac
to be exercised

to the principle
ruled in turns, a principle
of ruling and being
an
in
form of political
democratic
government
attractively
generating
are constrained
of equality
which
institutions
by the demands
political
citizens.
among
cording

Aristotle's

a well-known
is also, however,
of the natural
view
development

discussion

of an ideal form of polis in books 7 and 8 makes

There

17See Miller, NJR,

and

unattractive
of political

213-24.

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to
aspect
virtue.
His

it patent

JULIAANNAS

738

of political virtue not only is difficult but re

that the development

o%oXy] or "leisure,"18 and that this in turn requires


infrastructure?in
considerable
fact, a whole
layer of economic
are
not
citi
out
who
themselves
carried
is
which
by people
activity
zens and hence
The leisure,
and hence
not "parts" of the polis.
virtue,

quires
a very

considerable

of one

group

have

leisure,
of the citizens.

on the work
of others, who
depends
the ethical
do not develop
and hence
ideal

In the

state

there

are first-

is this unattractive,
has roundly
Taylor

Christopher
ideal polis
called

a political

is not

sufficient for life, much


is an exploiting

elite,

and political
second-class

for he

does not put it this way,


Aristotle
although
are
of the virtuous,
the
real
citizens
minority
only
of the city as noncitizens
of inhabitants
majority
only

themselves

insists

citi
that the

the
thereby
defining
and not a part of it.

As
unjust.
quite plainly
"As it stands,
the so
the matter:

it appears
put

it is not

at all, since

community

less for the good life (1252b27-30).

a community

virtue

and

zens,

Not

do not

of free-riders

whose

self

Rather, it

ability

to pur

of others to forgo

sue the good life ismade possible by the willingness

the Ideal' po
of slavery,
Even
that pursuit.
leaving aside the question
lis is thus characterized
by systematic
injustice."19
this unjust.
for us to consider
and straightforward
It is immediate
We

have

a distribution

of the city's benefits


labor for the benefit

in that some
uitable,
is abstracting
the ideal state, so Aristotle
of the real world.
features
nonideal
Why
What
unjust?
rangement
and others
tween citizens

is his

considered

in his

state?

and burdens
of others.
from what
does

Further,
he considers

he not

view

which

consider

of the distinction

is ineq
this is
to be
this ar
be

leisure from nec


state will provide
the well-run
1269b34-6:
18Cf.Politics
this as an agreed point, though one pro
Aristotle
essary activities.
presents
as
"Leisure" is apparently unavoidable
viding difficulty as to its achievement.
of trivial
connotations
a translation of oxoat|, despite the unsuitable modern
lacks a
that modern
English
significant
ity and relaxation.
(It is perhaps
in
determined
that
is
time
of
the
idea
word
for
ways
by
spent
having
handy
is devoted
your own priorities, not by the need to work for others, and which
There is another aspect to oxoXf) less
to serious, rather than trivial, pursuits.)
in the English
obvious
generated
"leisure," namely, freedom from pressures
"in
1273b6-7.
worries.
Cf.
money
1273a31-7,
(In some ways the English
by
the idea of financial freedom from want and sub
best combines
dependence"
to one's own plan, but
and the idea of shaping one's life according
ordination,
as a translation of oxoX.r|.)
would not be recognized
to Aristotle,
19C.C. W. Taylor, "Politics," in The Cambridge
Companion
ed. Jonathan Barnes (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1995), 250.

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739

VIRTUE
HUMANNATUREAND POLITICAL
assumes

Aristotle

some

that

will

of the noncitizens

or

be metics

to form part of the political


aliens, who will not even expect
as
not
this
and is simply as
He
does
problematic
community.
regard
a normal
life in the ancient
where
fact of everyday
world,
suming
resident

were

there

large
Aristotle

Athens.

he

though

himself

such

as

life as a metic,20
of metic
disadvantages

and,

al

communities

lived most

stresses

sometimes

in cities

metic

disfranchised

of his

the

status,21

seems to have found it obvious that many people would find it to their
to

overall

advantage

live

in cities

they were
of his
the dependence
of which

to engage
in trade, so that
would
of the economy
section

mostly
a metic

not
ideal

citizens,
state on

to any novel
be appealing
in
hidden
there are problematic
However,
assumptions
arrangement.
a
life to the ideal state.
of
fact of ordinary
transfer
Greek
Aristotle's
His

state

imal sense
nomically

can hardly
of being
dependent

primary
political
The farmers
which
expect
notorious

be a paradigm
able to meet
on

the

not

of self-sufficiency
its own economic

commercial

lie elsewhere.22
loyalties
as slaves
are envisaged

activities

in the most

min

if it is eco
needs,
of people
whose
as

jteQioixoi,
some degree
of unfreedom).23
We would
implies
to insist that he has in mind
natural
slaves,
given the
1. For when
he argues
in book
that slavery has a
discussion
(sometimes

presumably
Aristotle

to fit is the one


the only set-up
that his analysis
begins
where
labor is performed
slaves
under
the
by natural
heavy manual
a
his
of
natural
who
benefits
himself
and
slaves
master,
by
guidance
are
struc
in
of
This
them
that
unaided.
ways
they
incapable
directing
natural

basis,

ture can be seen


failing

as fitting ancient
to fit many
of the skilled

small-scale
and

farming,
though
roles which

supervisory

patently
ancient

own status and self-conception


as a metic,
see David
20On Aristotle's
the
"Aristotle
the
of
Whitehead,
Metic," Proceedings
Cambridge
Philological
Society 201 (1975): 94-9.
to metic
21See Politics
1278a34-8. However,
Aristotle's
attitude
status
seems to be objective and uninvolved;
comments
in
his occasional
(collected
aware
some
that
he
show
is
that
metics
their
Whitehead's
resented
article)
as
lack of political rights, but is apparently
resentment
free from personal
well as from any judgment that, in his own political
theory, the lot of metics
should be improved.
22It is not wholly
fanciful to compare modern worries
about loss of na
on the activities
in countries whose
tional autonomy
is dependent
economy
of multinational
based elsewhere.
companies
23See Politics
1330a25-30.
1329a25-6,

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JULIAANNAS

740
slaves

filled.

often

If natural

fits anywhere,
it should
fit here;
slavery
an ideal state, Aristotle
of sketching
and in the context
could be ex
us
to
the
awkward
fact
that
the
actual
world
presents
pected
ignore
with
few if any examples
of those people whom
the theory categorizes
as natural

slaves.24

ing a part
existence,
product
possession
meaning

Further,
of the state with
without
and

the

Aristotle

here

contrasts

the relation

of be

that of being a necessary


condition
for its
a
common
as
case
in
there being
the
of a
good,
to make
tool needed
it. He adds
that this kind of

to the city will


include many
belonging
to recall
1 that
the statement
of book

living things, surely


the slave
is a living

tool.25

assumes
in question
Aristotle
that the slaves
However,
natural
far from lacking
power
slaves;
reasoning
enough
on their own,
are
as
better
motivated
they
envisaged
chance
combine

of achieving
forces and

and as having
freedom,
enough
measures
if
revolt,
precautionary
assumes
that these
throughout

will

not be

to function
if given

the

to
intelligence
are not taken.26

are people who


discussion
are capable
as free people,27
of functioning
but have been deprived
of
their freedom
he never
Notoriously,
through
xvyr\, bad luck.
gives
are not
to the injustice
of enslaving
theoretical
attention
those who

Aristotle's

his ideal city here rests on an injustice which


is never
slaves;
dealt with.
explicitly
in Aristotle's
The most
ideal state, how
type of injustice
striking
or
status
not
whose
does
involve
metics
ever,
exploited
slaves, people
we can understand
A majority
Aristotle
of the free
taking for granted.
?
are
of the ideal polis are not to be citizens.
residents
They
?dvauooi
natural

for natural slavery, see Annas, The Morality


240n the argument
of Hap
Shame and Necessity
and
Bernard
piness,
152-6,
Williams,
(Berkeley: Uni
versity of California Press, 1993).
cf. 1253b32-3.
25See Politics
1328b22-37;
1330a25-33.
26See Politics
in this ideal state is unex
towards
the farmers
27Aristotle's attitude
he regards the best type of democ
pected, given that in book 6 of the Politics
with workers
and traders worse
racy as one based on a farming population,
form of democracy
in character and leading to a worse
if they get into power.
and traders precludes
He adds that the life of workers
virtue, but conspicu
he
to
this
about
the
farmers.
fails
say
However,
praises the farmers' de
ously
it good is that farm
rather back-handedly,
mocracy
saying that what makes
ers lack the leisure to go to the Assembly
often or to take much
interest in
was
to
state
his
ideal
Aristotle
when
Possibly,
sketching
unwilling
politics.
have half-leisured
citizens, and found it preferable,
despite the obvious prob
lems, to rely on a large body of slave or serf farmers.

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HUMAN NATURE AND POLITICAL VIRTUE


a word

that has no

Social
own

the work

aspect;

they do
certain
against

prejudice

any

generate

ence

obvious

between

cannot,
ethical

exercising
claims
that there
and

female,

would

seem

to be to claim

the workers

and

of mere

presumably,
the workers

free

cannot
however,
them of political

on

its

rights.

think that this could be justified?

way

of nature

is regarded
kinds of work,
for depriving

justification

How might Aristotle


The

They are the productive


has an ineliminably
neg
as mechanical
and menial.

ready modern
equivalent.
to them
way of referring

but Aristotle's

class,
ative

741

citizens?a

achieving
After
all,
to the distinction

is a natural

basis

and

Females

and

there

slaves

their

full nature

in book
between
have

is a differ
difference,
can, while

the citizens

why

nature?explaining
into people
develop
and political
virtue.
slave.

the

that

by

1 Aristotle
male

and

a different

na

subordination
does not offend
the
ture, so that their political
against
are
demands
of justice:
to unequals.
unequal
rights
assigned
Among
free males,
stresses
Aristotle
is ex
rule
by contrast,
equality:
political
over those who
are equal and similar
ercised
to you, which
is why
care has
cise

to be

of power

taken
which

that

lead

might

to become
how

it does

unacceptably
the roles of soldier

not

the ruled

dominant.28

assumption
of political
its can be

this
does

In book

as a mere
and

exer

the rulers

7 itself, when

ruler

the older men

deliberate.

The

is clearly
that any principle
of exclusion
from the exercise
is
resented.
and
prima facie
rights
objectionable
Age-lim
tolerated
exclude
only because
they do not permanently

disadvantaged,
merely
is a natural
difference
not

regarded
to resentment

discussing
and
policy
(deliberating
he is careful
to point out that
a difference
as
that all can respect

and of political
should be assigned,

legal cases)
judging
the natural
fact of aging provides
relevant:
the young
should
fight while

those

become

exclude

people

them wait
for a time. Moreover,
making
will accept
it
one; hence
people
it, since
are
from what
entitled
to.29
they
Surely,

28Cf. Politics
reiterates
that rule over free
1325a24-30, where Aristotle
is as different
from rule over slaves as is the naturally free from the
people
where he derides those who think that su
naturally slave, and 1325a41-bl0,
preme power gives one the chance to do the most fine actions; fine actions
can only be performed
by treating those who are in fact equal to you as
equals: treating them as unequal to you is contrary to nature, and hence not
fine. In this context Aristotle
repeats the lack of equality between male and
rule
female, and free and slave (and adds that of father and child): political
respects natural equality and natural inequality.
29See Politics
esp. M3-17.
1329a2-bl7,

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JULIAANNAS

742

a natural basis for his principle


of
ought to provide
are
from
ruled
the
citi
the
workers
by
political
rights. They
excluding
as
zens
in a way
that is wholly
one-sided;
they do not get treated
more
women
or
to
in
than
the
slaves
and
rule
turn, any
do,
equals,
get
seem to be not "political"
over them would
control
and so the citizens'
Aristotle

therefore,

but

"despotic":
is not
straints,

what

(c()?o8i)
is not."30

he

if we

8, we
talks about

for people
is required
an ethnic distinction.

of power
by

own

between

However,
7 and
books
When

constrained

In Aristotle's

ruled.
tion

it is an exercise

what

terms,
is suited

him

the basis
who
The

it has

while

some

con

are
the political
rights of those who
"it is odd if there is no natural
distinc
to despotic
concern

trace Aristotle's
find

which,

rule

this

with

issue

vague.
that
nature)

mere

clearly
to develop
into citizens,
of the cold north
inhabitants
are

through

and

evasive

uncharacteristically
of nature
(here

and

(oeojtoox?v)

he

first draws

of Europe

have

plenty of spirit (Bu^io?) but are lacking in skill and intelligence, so that
of Asia are intelligent
the inhabitants
they are politically
disorganized;
in spirit, so that they put up with political
but lacking
subordination;

the fortunate Greeks, being in themiddle, have the right amount of both
spirit and political intelligence to develop political organizations that
and political
independence
cooperation.31
is what
it is being Greek which
is required
it looks as though
as the basis of mere
How
nature
that can be developed
politically.32
encourage
Thus

ever,

both

Aristotle

among

Greeks

individual

immediately
themselves:

adds
some

that
have

the

same

difference

is found

that go to one
the desirable
mixture.33

characters

of two

Some
others
have
while
extremes,
are
for
the
of
it
full
appears,
development
political
incapable
Greeks,
a
few can develop
same reason
that non-Greeks
are, and only
political
not
the
does
virtue.
Aristotle's
set-up
here, however,
suggest
wording
have
each state would
need for his ideal state, whereby
that we would
disabling

a minority
would

with

a nature

be by nature

and
fit for virtue,
too recalcitrant
either

oped political activity.

Rather, Aristotle

a majority
or too

of workers
spineless

who

for devel

indicates that he is distin

1324b36-7.
^Politics
this ability to com
here connects
1327bl8-33.
Aristotle
31See Politics
bine factors that individually go to disabling extremes with the ability to rule
from this here.
others, but I shall prescind
32
fit the Carthaginians,
would
Aristotle
in this classification
Where
at length in book 2?
he discusses
whose
constitution
33SeePo?^csl327b33-8.

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HUMAN NATURE AND POLITICAL VIRTUE

743

a
not drawing
of Greeks,
tribes or ethnicities
among different
the people
distinction
of a given Greek
state.34
among
mere
nature
for habitua
Some Greeks,
have
the
then,
requisite

guishing
horizontal

tion

and

reason

to work

have

no

natural

basis

on
for

to produce
virtuous
citizens.
So far we
between
distinction
citizens
and the

the

after making
the point
that not every necessary
Aristotle,
will be a part of that
for the functioning
of a natural whole
different
parts of the state, and raises
whole,
functioning
distinguishes
as in de
in
whether
all
shall
share
all
these
the question
functions,
workers.

condition

or not.
His answer,
is that
mocracies,
familiarly,
in
least
the ideal state: for the aim of the ideal state
this

virtue;

requires

(oxoXr|)

incompatible

and
developing
with
farming,

exercising
trading,

they shall not, at


is happiness,
and

virtue require a leisure


or exercising
a manufac

turing skill, but not incompatible with developing military skill early in
will not be farmers,
life. Citizens,
The
therefore,
traders, or ?ovauooi.
wisdom
of dividing
the state into distinct
of
and
farmers
soldiers
y?vr|
is supported
of the arrangement
by the antiquity
in
with
the
the oldest continuous
country
cially
Egypt,
Aristotle's
retical

in Crete

and

espe

political
history.
a theo
to support
in two ways.
First,
a point about the kind of

to the antiquity
of tradition
appeal
for his argument
is unfortunate
here

point
to a non-Greek
he appeals

to support
society
he
has
political
just said develops
only
among
organization
the antiquity
of Egyptian
what
relevance
does
institutions
Greeks;
are themselves
if the Egyptians
have to politically
po
capable
Greeks,
because
in
does
litically
incapable,
lacking
spirit?35 Moreover,
Egypt
not provide
stresses
the right model
here.
Aristotle
here
that the
that

Egyptians

divide
neither

the farming
class
own demand

to his

from
that

the fighting
farmers

the

sponds
are
in Egypt
since
farmers
JT8QLOLXOL
eign
nor to his own concern
to give a privileged
of political
virtue and political
development
is displayed
in all kinds of actions
tian free farmers
and nonpolitical

neither
place

and not

activity,
limited

soldiers

could

this corre
class;
or for
be slaves
slave

nor

to citizens
something
to fighting.
hardly

foreign,
for their
which
Egyp

correspond

34See Politics
1327b34: xa xoov e)dr|v<jov ?'Ovrj; eOvr] is the word used
shortly before for non-Greeks
(1327b23).
to non-Greeks
to certify Greek
35The oddity of appealing
institutions,
given what has just been said about the political
incapability of non-Greeks,
of common meals back to
applies also to the attempt to trace the institutions
the native inhabitants of Italy.

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JULIAANNAS

744
to the

less

farmers

slave

and politically
needs
Aristotle

active

in Aristotle's

citizens

for separating
is a precedent
case,
the
not from farmers
but from his working
citizens
class,
out of the comparison,
What he really wants
presumably,

In any

state.
privileged

what

?cxvauooi.
is an established

a free

among
division,
political
function.
social
However,
by
population,
that Aristotle
it indicates
is inept. Moreover,
rigid

and

similar

the actual

son

is less

his own mind


and

citizens

here

as to what

for the development


is Greek
is?which
apt than others).
or withholds
confers

than

the distinction
ground
All he has committed
himself

the workers.

of citizen

virtue,

compari
clear in
the

between

does

is a nature?a

otherwise

to, as a basis
that
nature,

mere

are more
some
types of Greek
possibly
a
is
drawn which
distinction
this group

(though
Yet within

of the
by the antiquity
political
rights, justified
a
a
have
different
who
among
(mere) na
apparently
people
practice
ture, and so should not be comparable.
about
in books
of two points
7 and 8 make much
The discussion
the

life:

citizens'

it requires

for oneself,
or ?yoQa?o?.36

chosen

freely

?avau?oc

in ways
that one has
o%oXr], time spent
not have
of being
the quality
and it should
sense of
in
both
the
need
Citizens
"leisure,"

literally having the time to consider difficult matters


at appropriate
is at their own
zen

not

should

without
that

also

length,

tual
from

in the sense

We
disposal.
to make
have

independence
the question

of having

can

of public policy

to spend which
in principle
that a citi
time

readily agree
on complex
issues
mind
her
up
public
about them, and
informed
to become
properly

the time
having
someone
who

set by others

ends

and

may

that are desirable


of whether

to achieve

time working
the habits
develop

spends most
not adequately

of her

in a citizen.

Aristotle

sets

the

of

However,
level of

intellec

even
leisure

apart
too

ideas
he is unconsciously
because
relying on traditional
high, perhaps
of the leisured
life,37 it is clear that he is presupposing
"gentlemanly"
have
leisure at
to it which
that a minority
an economic
basis
implies
the expense
slaves

of a majority

he at least

try, no such

argues

that

appears

argument

do not.

who

there

However,
is a natural

in the case

in the case

while
basis

of

to this asymme

of free workers.

1328b39-1329a2.
36See Politics
177-87.
30 (1936):
Classical
37See J. Stocks,
Quarterly
"2XOAH,"
and also its
Stocks notes the parallel in the "digression" in Plato's Theaetetus,
views: "The man of leisure was in short for the Greeks
debt to conventional
...

a man

of means.

...

It is repugnant

gle for his life, or to take thought

to a Greek

for the morrow"

gentleman

to have

(p. 182).

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to strug

HUMAN NATURE AND POLITICAL VIRTUE


in fact underlines

Aristotle

745

the difference

in
in a passage
re
insofar as is

himself

that a slave

he says
needs
virtue only
l,38 where
or
him
to
his
tasks
unhindered
for
by intemperance
perform
quired
same
can
true of workmen,
Is the
he asks, who
cowardice.
also be in
answer
a
a
is
is
His
that
there
slave be
temperate?
big difference;
book

to a natural

longs
other

is clearly
not true
workman"
(?avcruooc

kind, while
A "common

workmen.

this

or

of cobblers

TE%vixr\?) only
is subject
to "a limited kind of
for a living is like
the idea that working
Here we see openly
slavery."
being a slave, since one's time is not one's own and one has little free
time anyway;
but we also see Aristotle
that there is nothing
admitting

needs

this

natural
The

virtue

slave's

as he

insofar

in this position.
in any workman
being
in books
7 and 8 of the education
discussion

of citizens

takes

on the difference
do not quite mesh,
between
citizens
as
time
it were
of
the
Aristotle
proceeds
though
?avauooi.
structures
of activity,
like that of a working
obvious
that certain
man,
are
that
with
the
associated
with
pleasures
these,
typically
together
two

lines, which

and

Much

the living of a virtuous


life. The citizens must not live
simply preclude
a life which
or ?yoQa?o?;,
is ?dvauooc
for such a life is ignoble and is
en
inimical to virtue (ttq?? aQ8xr]v ujtevavxio?).39
But how can merely
or
in
certain
of
obstruct
the
of
exercise
types
prevent
activity
gaging
virtue?

political
virtue,
certain

and

the fact

that

laying weight
to virtue
the aspirant
If the models

in his

models

society.
ideals, then he
embody wrong
emulating
to develop
which
the right ideals.
a similar
Aristotle
elsewhere
shows
habituation

is absorbed

which

learn

to be virtuous.

chean

Ethics

he

on the development

is here

Aristotle

from

and

begin by copying
that he starts by
the starting-point
from

of action
lacks

on the content
of
emphasis
our social
as we
environment

In his

stresses

of

must

long discussion
that we become

of virtue

in the Nicoma

just, for example,


by per
some
latter we must
accept
people
of justice.
"to have been
So it is important

to do the

just actions,
forming
as examples
in our society
brought up right": if our society

is one

in which

there

is a systematically

cf. 1277a33-b7.
38See Politics
1260a36-b2;
39See Politics
cf. 1329al9-21
and 35-8, 1337b3-15,
1341a5
1328b39-41;
Outside books 7 and 8, cf. 1319a24-40,
and book 3, chapter 5,
9, 1342M8-22.
where Aristotle's
from being citizens
is
only ground for excluding
?ovauooi
that their way of life precludes
virtue (1278a8-ll
and 15-21).

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JULIAANNAS

746
then we

of justice,
will make

perverted
conception
and thinking which

will

of acting
to ac
perhaps
impossible,
its requirements.
Aristotle

it difficult,
of justice
and

habits

acquire

quire a good understanding


is merely
this idea to political
see
virtue.
We can readily
extending
what
he means.
If you are brought
up to respect
you
profit-making,
will
think of public
from
the
of
individual
inter
projects
perspective
if you

est;

have

to bargain,
lack a
up always
you will
brought
of cooperation,
and so on.
This
is a notably
of virtue, one which
defines
it by the content
conception
are
in which
Just
as, in the ethi
dispositions
developed.

public-spirited
conventional
of the habits
cal works,

been

notion

Aristotle

spending
these are

does

not

("magnificence")
as virtues
regarded

that

question
and virtues

is a virtue

there

of public
because

of tact and

sociability,
so here
in the Politics
he
society,
can only be developed
does not question
the idea that political
virtue
in certain
and exercised
contexts
of action,
the ones which
specific
control
view

in one way

habituation
that defines

over

take

virtue

istotle

and

rather

but

attitude,

tradesmen.

being
the attitude

of over-conservative

with

which

small-mindedness

are

seen

flows

they
which

as a matter

from

of having
a less conventional

are

embodied

to

in these

to the charge
that here Ar
snobbish
prejudice
against
is not a matter
of personal
method.

in books
however,
a
matter
is
not
?avauooc

and

these

by contemporary
This
influence

7 and

Sometimes,
that

Unsurprisingly,
of habituation
tends

contexts

prejudices,
there is something

Hence

than another.

since

is over-influenced

craftsmen

rather

its social

by

conventional

contexts.

social

in his

8 Aristotle

takes

the

of the actions

are performed.
he associates

line

but

of
performed
In particular,
the crudity
with working
of life
ways

aim in what
the wrong
of
way
virtue,
regarding

is done.40
one which

it less tightly to the content of the initial habits of action which

This
ties

are

reason.
stress on the role of the agent's
puts more
on the way
an agent comes
focuses
in which
to reflect
a
of
which
has been acquired
given disposition
by ha

and which

formed,
When Aristotle
on

the content

bituation,
quired

he allows
patterns,

and

fering priorities.
When
he looks
not

as an alternative

40See Politics

more

room

recognizes
at virtue
to which

1337M7-21,

for flexibility
of attitude
that similar behavior
may

this way,
those

Aristotle
are

can

condemned

towards

ac

involve

dif

regard ?avauoia
who
do not have

1341b8-18.

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VIRTUE
HUMANNATUREAND POLITICAL
in citizenly
Most
that education.

education

of a failure

as the result

but sometimes

virtue,

747
in

conven
he says that Spartan
education,
notably,
a
as
in
its
whatever
training
high ide
failings,
tionally
being,
regarded
are "?ovauooi
in truth."41 This is, in
als, in fact produces
people who
a
is conven
to
conventional
say: ?avauoia
terms,
revolutionary
thing
for a living,
and working
with
associated
trading, bargaining,
tionally
of
mind
that
this
habits
and
the allegedly
produces,
petty
vulgar
would
education
of a Spartan military
it to the results
and to apply
contexts
its
of
habitua
virtue
who
define
those
by
normally
outrage
and

tion.

Yet here Aristotle

to say that what matters


for
can be found even among
those
if they lack insight
admired
activity,

not hesitate

does

is an attitude,

which

being ?avauooc
a conventionally
who
practice
into the value and point of that activity.
7 has a wider
in book
One passage

re
than Aristotle
significance
reasons
In
citizens
virtue.
for his view of political
alizes
why
giving
in
their
to
wait
before
be
made
may reasonably
youth
polit
exercising
to put up with being ruled without
ical rule, and expected
resentment,
Aristotle

says

that

the aim,

rather

than

ence in being ordered to do something.

the action,

may

make

a differ

"That iswhy it is fine (xcd?v)

seem ser
to perform many
of what
free people
for the young,
among
do not differ so
vice tasks; for as regards being fine or not fine actions
as in their end and their aim."42 The fine is the
in themselves
much
aim of the virtuous
with

patible
one does
does

not

virtue

not have
realize

person;
to serve
a menial
that

to find it incom
is refusing
here, Aristotle
as long as
in menial
kinds of ways,
others
or servile attitude.
Aristotle
unfortunately

this point undermines


of the conventional

much

of his

assumption
content
of political
virtue.
importance
on
more
must
stress
which
for
he
the
develop
attitude,
agent's
Laying
on
for
views which
he has absorbed,
allows
and less
society's
himself,
one
as
a far more
of
the
virtue,
conception
undermining
egalitarian
an
can
in themselves
that certain
activities
prevent
sumption
agent's
about

the

acquiring

virtue.

cf. 1333b5-25,
41Politics
9-10, where Aristotle
1338b24-38;
especially
stresses
the idea of vulgarity.
conflict with
There is an apparent
1333a4-ll.
^Politics
1277a338-37,
where Aristotle
calls it slavish to be able to perform the same thing, namely
ifwe assume Aristo
actions.
The conflict disappears
"service" (?iaxovixo?)
to be thinking of an ability that is so developed
that
tle in the earlier passage
the agent's indepen
it "comes naturally" to serve others, thereby damaging
dence of mind.

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JULIAANNAS

748

two

seem

not

does

Aristotle

clear

the education

about

of thought
of his wavering
in themselves
harmful
lines

some

the difference

about

about

whether

of citizens;
forms

his

between

hence,
perhaps,
are
of training

certain

or only when
a certain point.
The
done beyond
on
reason
stress
of
the
of
habit
and
two approaches
different
roles
put
to
of virtue.
in the development
and exercise
Neither,
though, appeals

any

initial

we

so, when

And
souls

of nature.

difference

find

that

are distorted

of ?ctvauooi

in one

Aristotle

passage

the natural

from

says

that

the

state

(jiaQZGTQa\i\i?vai
in
is
music
which
take
because
they
pleasure
(j)?oLV e^e ?)
as
we
to
to
nature
must
take
the
reference
be
similarly
"unnatural,"43
are
nature.
norm and goal, not the initial endowment
of mere
Citizens
xf]? xax?

from

divided

the ?ccvauooi
because
their
rational
(sometimes)

ation

and

takes

this

to show
the

towards

takes

plicitly

that

"natural"

I therefore

aptitude
tle is relying
their way
does not
women

virtue.

in mere

nature,
with
disagree

he never
However,
raw
in initial
material
Miller's

view

ex
and

that Aristo

on a natural
because
of
here. Workers
difference
may,
as a norm of political
but
this
of life, fail to attain nature
life,
from the start, like
show
that they are naturally
disqualified
that
would
have to show
for that Aristotle
and natural
slaves;

is an initial

there

they differ
norm of citizen

to differ

them

for virtue.

of habitu
their contexts
(mostly)
use of these differ, and Aristotle
in development
in virtue and hence

difference

of mere

nature.

in Aristotle's
best constitution.44
inequalities
if
should be less surprised
He suggests
by the inegalitarianism
as
neither
we remember
such
of
natural
that Aristotle's
"theory
justice
have equal rights ac
that individuals
the doctrine
entails nor excludes
Miller

discusses

the

that we

cording

to nature.

possess

equal

From

the standpoint
to nature
according

rights
to nature."45
equal according
natural
the alleged
inferiority

"Aristotle's
of whole

of natural

individuals

justice,

if, they are in fact


on
is based
inegalitarianism

if, and only


classes

and profession."46
by nationality,
gender
that natural
Miller's
justice
point,
general
on
basis
of
natural
the
inequalities,
criminating

as defined

of persons
is consistent
if there

It is interesting how often Aristotle


1342a22-8.
iZPolitics
of types of music.
discussion
ture in the concluding
?Miller, NJR, 240-5.
45Ibid., 241.
4,?Ibid., 242.

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with

dis

are any

such,

refers

to na

VIRTUE
HUMANNATUREAND POLITICAL
is evidently
totle claims
and

So are his discussions

correct.

to find natural

female.

However,
that the distinction

claims
ture.

749

inequalities
fails to find ways

he

free

in which

citizen

between

that the souls


only says once
in an unnatural
state, and, as we have
there
is a difference
of initial natural

of

that

ply

that

only
sense

of normative,
is due to habit

This

life cannot

a natural

reason;

those
and

in his

have

ent, or differently
things could have

distributed.
been

brought
informed

of women

that were

of cities
amples
ideal state and

Of course,

to

have
not

im

of a best
up

life.

human

in certain

of

ways
of choice

is not
cities

that they have.


the role of a natural

economic

roles

he

fails

to consider

could

have

been

differ

it is by failing to consider
that
into considering
slavery

that he falls

otherwise

is more

from workers

who

this does

seen,

the goal

infrastructure

otherwise:

the subordination

izens

on na

is based

disposition
as political
virtue.
This, however,
to convention,
to the way
and ultimately

economic

been

slave,
Aristotle
clearly

those

into allowing
this fact to play
of the ideal polis, because
construction

that it could

and

and

achieves

the reflective

it is due

fact;
the particular
slides
Aristotle

fact

one which

male

it means
endowment;
in the
life which
is natural

achieve

develop
is exercised
which

and action

need

do not

the workers

Aris

and

and worker

Aristotle
are

work

in which

of the ways
between

natural.

glaring,

However,
in that Aristotle

distinguishing
had available

cit
ex

in more

than his
ways
egalitarian
of
ancient
whereas
explicit
justifications
democracy,
were
in the ancient
of women
the subordination
universal
governed

slavery and
world
and so could more

readily be taken for granted.


Indeed, Aristo
tle pays some attention
to forms of democracy
where
farmers, work
the
and
citizens.
traders
have
of
When
he is study
ers,
political
rights
in books
5 and 6, as one form of
especially
ing this type of democracy,
constitution
he
studies
it
and
other
forms of constitu
others,
among

to it and from it dispassionately,


that change
giving no indication
a
to
is
from
to
from a natural
democracy
"polity"
change
change
an unnatural
in a way not true of, for example,
form of government
to
from
of the kind excluded
polity
change
Democracy
oligarchy.
by
tion

that

his

ideal

not

because

no

basis

state

for
it were

though
conventional
velopment
problem

because
it forms a tyranny of the majority,
is something
unnatural
about
it. Thus Aristotle
has
as
the distinction
between
citizen
and worker
treating
is criticized

there

a natural
factors.

from nature
on him:

fact; there is every


His own
insistence,

through
for the political

habit

and

indication

that

in these
reason

organization

books,
to virtue

it is due
on

to

the de

the
presses
is in fact unjust,
unless

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JULIAANNAS

750
is a natural

there
and

receive

difference

an education

between

those

for political

who

have political
rights
those who do not.47

and

virtue,
I do not agree with Miller,
in
then, that all the forms of Aristotle's
are
in
the
ideal
state
to
be
at
the
door
of
his
egalitarianism
put
qualify
that there are natural
be
justice
by claiming
ing natural
inequalities
tween

of people.
From Hobbes
groups
onwards,
to think that all inequalities
in Aristotle's
tendency
on nature
to depend
and to use the argument
posed
to support
this. Hobbes
between
the powers

very

difference

claims

that Aristotle

of men

by nature
of all his politics
that

there
ideal

has
state

about

been
are sup

natural

sla

so much
"putteth
that he doubteth
not

as the ground
some men
are by na
ture worthy
to govern
and others
nature
to
serve."48
How
by
ought
claims
is
made
without
ever, one of his most
any
striking
inegalitarian
in a context where
such argument,
it is hard to see how such an argu
to set down

ment

could

be made.

That Aristotle

to see

this is partly due to his generally


adopt
an
and
context-bound
of
ing
unnecessarily
rigid
conception
virtue,
one which
areas of action.
ties it to conventionally
defined
This, how
be the whole
in
ever, cannot
story, as we have seen that sometimes
these
more

fails

books

Aristotle's

flexible

than

conception

of education

and political

virtue

is

this.

I believe,
to think
large part is played,
by simple unwillingness
own
in
the
that
terms
Aristotle's
is
point
injustice
through
produced
is not based
discrimination
which
upon natural
by political
inequali
I do not think that we should
ties.
rush to berate Aristotle
for this; it is
in our own case we can easily find ourselves
which
something
doing.
some
Let us take a modern
which
of
the
features
example
reproduces
is aimed at producing
of Aristotle's
and the best
state, which
happiness
life for its citizens
and does so by inculcating
virtue
in them.
political

47Outside

as to
these books we can at times see Aristotle's
unclarity
which
In Politics
he uses, in talk
inequalities are natural ones.
3.1277a5-12,
in book 1 imply natural
parts of the city, analogies which
ing of dissimilar
subordination
but in
reason/appetite,
man/wife,
(soul/body,
master/slave)
book 3 merely
show that there is no one single virtue of the good citizen. Cf.
1277M3-32.
48From
from the
Hobbes, Elements
of Law, 4:103. I take the reference
excellent
Politics"
article by J. Laird, "Hobbes on Aristotle's
Proceedings
of
theAristotelian
1-20.
Society 43 (1942-3):

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VIRTUE
HUMANNATUREAND POLITICAL

751

A university
of a community
is an example
while
many
where,
some
can
of
work
side
them
be
considered
every
by
side,
day
people
of the community
while
the neces
others provide
"parts" or members
of the community.
for the functioning
For a university
sary conditions
is defined

its activities

and research;
and
teaching,
studying,
in these share
in the community's
those who
life as members.
engage
The administrators,
and
those
who
secretarial
fund-raisers,
provide
in the commu
and janitorial
do not in the same way partake
support
by

withdrawn.

come

it would

life, although

nity's

of

if their own

activities

were

The fact that there is this distinction of role is not in itself

an indication

of injustice.

An

supporting
in it.
partaking

as fulfilling
a life as
as he does as an
life of the university,

individual

an administrator,
academic,
common

to a halt

the

have

may

In Aristotle's

he clearly
life of workers

case,

of his class

the

shares
and

some
traders

prejudices
against
a part of his position.
The
such, but this is not necessarily
nec
of
the
arises
when
division
between
and
question
parts
injustice
in ways which
individuals
affects
do not correspond
essary conditions
so that someone
as a
to their individual
who
could flourish
desert,
as

just

member

of

the

who

provides
because
merely
then the value
will

community
the necessary
of the bad

goods

the
nullify
a perfectionist
of intellectual

However,
unjustifiably
cation
does
rests
of his

ideal

live

luck of circumstances.

the

others

life of

someone

to be members
If this

is the case,

of the community
by the life of the members
as a community
The university
is often
injustice.
is
it
in
the
institution
which
the
justification:

if it depends
excluded

upon

to
for

achieved

not

given

is compelled
conditions

research
for

and

its existence

are best
achieved.
community
on the work
of those who are

in it, the perfectionist


from participating
justifi
the objection
that the community's
functioning
stresses
Aristotle
his perfectionist
injustice.
justification
state: in the best state "anyone whatsoever"49
can live the
not meet

the measure
of the problem
that this favors a
a
are
of
who
in a way
excluded
that
minority
majority
a clear argument
he cannot
defend.
Since Aristotle
does not provide
in his ideal state are naturally
that the workers
unfitted
for the political
best

life. He

fails

to take

at the expense

I agree with Miller that "anyone whatsoever"


re
49?oxi?ouv; 1324a23-5.
fers to individual members
of the polis, not any individual, citizen or not, with
the lawgiver is concerned;
whom
see no problem
hence Aristotle would
in
here; see Miller, NJR, 214 n. 65.
excluding workers

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JULIAANNAS

752
that are denied

rights
in his
face

own

that his ideal state is


them, we have to conclude
not
and that he does not
merely
(and
ours) unjust,
he does not focus on the workers
because
and their sta

terms

this point

tus clearly
enough.
It is obvious,
Aristotle
live well
and to be happy.

in book

wants
to
7,50 that everyone
to do this
have the ability
However,
or nature
xiva
and others not,51 because
of some chance
(o?d
x?/riv
f|
some
requires
supplies
(that is, virtuously)
(j)i)OLv). For living finely
more
for those
(XOQTiYia), less for those who are of better disposition,
are of worse.

who

ficiency
cause
it requires
ment
of virtue
in the
and
wealth,
Aristotle
happiness,
school

lost,
in the agent.

poses,

place may
In accepting

consciously
in the Hellenistic

accepts

or never

be

fault

first

so on.

health,

can

some

This is a strikingly
candid passage
about
the insuf
for happiness.
Virtue needs
external
both be
goods,
material
for its exercise
and because
the achieve

of virtue

dal for his

says

achieved,
through
is striking
about
What
is its coupling
of chance

however,
kept at opposite

mally
is unclear

period,

here what

a certain
require
the insufficiency
what

was

amount

of

of virtue

for

to become

a scan

the position
that happiness
and not through
any

chance

the passage
for present
pur
two factors nor
and nature,
ends of the Aristotelian
it
spectrum.
Moreover,
is.
Is
their scope
Aristotle
the exclu
conjoining

chance
in an unprom
landed
(their being
through
slaves
with
the
natural
exclusion
of
and women
life)
ising way
and there is a par
This is the most
obvious
nature?
thought,
through
concerns
not
"for"
clause
external
the
allel.52
only
However,
goods,
sion

of the workers
of

natural
structure

and this would


endowments,
life which
for the virtuous

or nature.

If so,

the awkwardness

that it is lack of the infra


suggest
is being ascribed
to "some" chance
re
of the sentence
would
perhaps

1331b39-1332a2.
50See Politics
InNJR, Miller discusses
this term (pp. 102-4) as
51The word is k^ovoia.
an indication
that Aristotle
has the locution to talk of liberty rights, but I do
in this passage.
Miller says: "The term exou
not think that this is in question
the unobstructed
sia is closely connected with freedom, and denotes
ability
lies in outward
to perform a particular action" (p. 102). Here the obstruction
not in any behavior of others that might create a duty not to
circumstances,
do the action in question.
52See Politics
Note that in The Politics
1295a25-8.
of Aristotle
(Oxford:
comments
that the "for"
Oxford University
Press, 1887-1902), W. L. Newman
clause is added to explicate
"through chance," since defect of xopriyia "is due
the awkwardness
of (jy?oic and its
to a defect of fortune"; thus he notices
place in the sentence.

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VIRTUE 753
HUMANNATUREAND POLITICAL
fleet Aristotle's
of his

state's

piness

a majority
at excluding
and unhappiness
from the life of civic virtue and hap
free male
inhabitants
on the basis of chance
(even though he has no good ar
ambivalence

merely
to ascribe
it to nature).
gument
It is worth
that even
stressing

were

if Aristotle

clear in
perfectly
it is mere
chance which

own mind,
to accept
that
and prepared
in his ideal state, this is still an embarrass
the majority
disfranchises
ment
for him.
For in contexts
other
than this issue, books
7 and 8
even
more
the
do
ethical
the
than
dominance
of
virtue
stress,
works,
his

for happiness.

External

goods

have

a limit set to their

to

contribution

use of them, while


there is no
happiness,
by virtuous
to ascribe
to
made
such limit to the contribution
by virtue;
happiness
use
to
external
rather
than
virtuous
is
like
the
their
goods
ascribing
to the instrument
excellence
of a performance
rather
than the per
we find, more markedly
In these books
of the Politics
former.53
than
a limit

in the
goods,
virtue

ethical
with
to use,

later ethical

formed

works,
external
a way
theories.

the

language

as

of virtue
the role

goods
playing
of speaking
which
Thus Aristotle's

the use

of tools

was

to become

exclusion

nature,
about

books,
ness.
This
injustice

but
the

supports,
here which

also
scope

sits
and

I think,
Aristotle

ill with
power

his

or nature"

for
in

dominant

from

in his ideas about

in these two
especially
to happi
with
regard
a
that there is problem
of

ideas,
of chance

the suggestion
never
squarely

of the best state does not achieve


justification
that
fail to achieve
the happiness
many
does;
a lack of external
and
opportunities,
goods

faces.

His

as much

perfectionist
as he thinks

that all seek,


is ascribed

sees that
by a theorist who
a
whom
but
for
neither
offers
other,
satisfactory
on a fundamental
the best state from depending
chance

external

of the ?avocuooi

political rights in his ideal state finds no justification


human

of

and material

it must

to

be one

answer

that will

it
of

because

"some
or the
save

injustice.54

University

of Arizona

53See Politics
1332a7-27.
1323a38-b29,
541 am grateful for comments made by participants
at the Liberty Fund
on Fred Miller's book.
I am also grateful to Fred Miller for letting
conference
me see his forthcoming
for The Cambridge
naturalism
chapter on Aristotle's
Political
edited by Malcolm
and
Schofield
History
of Ancient
Thought,
Rowe.
Christopher

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