The World Explored, the World Suffered Science and tech Issue Nr. 11 October 2018(clone) - Page 21

Aristotle’s work “Politics” is an awe -inspiring work. It is clear that it is one of his greatest pieces of practical Philosophy. The language of the work is clear and distinct but its structure reveals itself in its entirety only to scholarly investigations that reveal the work to have an iceberg-like structure with metaphysical theory, epistemological theory and Philosophical Psychology lying concealed beneath the water line and political and ethical issues manifesting themselves above the waterline. Similar remarks could have been made about his work on “Ethics” which also resembled a mammoth like iceberg with much of its structure lying unconcealed beneath the water line. In the light of such remarks the modernist ambitions of Philosophers like Hobbes, Descartes and Hume who chose to deliberately ignore much of the hidden Aristotelian structure and sail into the Arctic circle of Aristotelian Philosophy, were monumental examples of philosophical misjudgement. Aristotle’s “Politics” is a hylomorphic metaphysical work seeking to summarise the work of a large number of political thinkers and the practical work of statesman embodied in over 150 constitutions from city-states of the developed world. The opening words of Book 1 are: “Every state is a community of some kind and every community is established with a view to some good, for everyone always acts in order to obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the highest good.” Aristotle then proceeds to resolve the whole of the state into its parts in accordance with his hylomorphic strategy: “He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, whether a state or anything else will obtain the clearest view of them.” The assumption behind these words is an assumption that many early modernist philosophers such as Hobbes and Hue would reject, namely, that the state is a natural organic entity thus falling into a category of things distinct from artefacts. Neo-Aristotelians see this to be a key distinction between the concepts that we use to describe ad explain the human realm of work and the concepts we use to describe and explain the human realm of action. On the other hand, reductionist attempts by Hobbes Hume and other modern behaviourist psychologists to reduce action to what can be observable from a third person point of view, namely “bodily movement” clearly rejects Aristotle’s claim that different realms of human activity require different assumptions and conceptual frameworks for the description and explanation of whatever is changing in these realms. Aristotle’s Politics according to Ross in his work entitled “Aristotle” employs the virtue nurturing mechanism of “the Golden Mean” in attempting to navigate a course between the iceberg’s of Thrasymachus’ materialistic conventionalism and the Cynic’s world view where citizens are citizens of a world in which states have withered away. Aristotle certainly held a more idealistic and principled view than Thrasymachus’ who would have scoffed at the idea of a great-souled citizen dwelling in a great souled city-state. The latter idea obviously involves the idea of a soul embracing the Platonic assumption that there is a fundamental relation between the soul of an individual and the soul of a city. Aristotle’s hylomorphism would certainly have articulated this relationship differently in terms of the matter and form of persons and states. The matter of a city -state would include the population and territory of a city and the latter the character of its citizens and institutions. The good referred to in the opening quote from book one has , as he would say, many meanings but in this work he specifically categorises the good into three areas: external goods, the goods of the body, and the goods of the soul with this last area obviously being the prime focus of the other two: external goods and the goods of the body are for the sale of the goods of the soul. Here again, we see emphasis placed upon a developmental or actualisation process leading to a telos or an end which is valuable both in itself and for its possible logical consequences:- the great souled man. The stages on the way of this actualisation process are its “parts” , namely the elements of the family: male, female, children, slaves. Male and female reproduction is necessary for the continuity of the species in accordance with the drive of an instinct that desires to leave behind a physical form of itself in the material of ones children. Slaves were necessary for the survival of the family. This family quartet provides, then, the models for the kinds of rule we will encounter in the polis, Aristotle argues. The master slave relation is the