All posts tagged education

Aristotle’s Politics

Aristotle is one of the greatest thinkers, trail-blazers, and philosophical masters that has ever lived. His insights continue to inform in the subjects of Biology and Philosophy, and he is referred to as the father of Ethics and Zoology. His extensive knowledge in these categories helped him to make new connections and gain new insights during his brief but amazing life. Aristotle, in his works, refers to politics as ‘an organism’ and states that no one part can function without the other. Aristotle also encourages political partnerships, believes that the state should always come before the individual, and that man is a perfect animal only when in the presence of law and justice. These insights and values still hold true. Aristotle and his teachings help to define the modern world of politics, philosophy, and civilization.
Aristotle focuses on ideals, processes, and values that separate the individual from the state and the political system. The city is a natural community that is prior in importance to both the family and the individual. He also works extensively on the ideas and concepts of education:

* “[that]…education should be regulated by law and should be an affair of state is not to be denied, but what should be the character of this public education, and how young persons should be educated, are questions which remain to be considered.” -XIII Politics*
One of Aristotle’s most famous sayings is that “man is by nature a political animal”. Aristotle conceives politics to more closely resemble a living organism than a machine. His work with the natural world gives him insights into the structure and order of man within his natural political environment. He views Humans as an animal in political environment. He believes that humans will flourish if they live in a community together, because that is how they are meant to function. There are many ways that Aristotle and Socrates see this distinction in life. Socrates and Aristotle see culture as a restrictive force, something that holds one back from their political nature. This however, is an interesting distinction between civilization. Do they feel civilization is restricting, or only the culture within? Also, their examination of constitution and law is an interesting distinction. It seems as though they believe that laws are simply nothing more than laws, perhaps part of that culturally restricting force—whereas constitution speaks to the political nature of man.

“In the laws there is hardly anything but laws; not much is said about the constitution. This, which he had intended to make more of the ordinary type, he [socrates] gradually brings round to the other or ideal form. For with the exception of the community of women and property, he supposes everything to be the same in both states; there is to be the same education; the citizens of both are to live free from servile occupations, and there are to be common meals in both.” -XIII Politics*
Aristotle’s work goes on to say that humans are best served if they follow nature, and not culture. Aristotle believed that culture was a restricting force. An interesting part of Aristotle’s work are his conceptions of equality and freedom. Although he initially created the study of ethics, he believes that women could not be in ruling positions because they get carried away by their emotions.
“Again, if Socrates makes the women common, and retains private property, the men will see to the fields, but who will see to the house? And who will do so if the agricultural class have both their property and their wives in common? Once more: it is absurd to argue, from the analogy of the animals, that men and women should follow the same pursuits, for animals have not to manage a household.” -XIII Politics*

Aristotle also believes in the concept of ‘natural slaves’, that there are those who need the direction of others and are happy being told what to do. These slaves are born to serve and find fulfillment in service. These concepts, and the idea that men are clearly superior to women, are often characteristic of uneducated people today. This is an interesting distinction to make because of the amount of knowledge Aristotle had in his world. Because Aristotle studied so much of the natural world, it was only fitting for him to classify men within the natural order.

Ins spite of these anachronisms, Aristotle’s insights into how the human functions within politics will forever propel us forward to the deepest questions about community and being. The ideas that Aristotle writes about can also be applied to the project I am currently embarking on. His thoughts on the order and structure of man, and his place in the political system will help to shape my ideals and opinions in the coming months, especially the idea of politics and governmental systems as a living organism. I look forward to applying Aristotle’s teachings to today and gaining new insights from his centuries-old analysis.

-Aristotle. Aristotle’s Politics,, 1997/9/25, Maintained: Jon Roland of the Constitution Society

Week of the 23rd

This week has been one of the most interesting and fruitful so far. The work with Ralph this week took off and we finally got a full week in to discuss and meditate over my reading in The Promise of Politics. Part of our discussion this week circled around Religion, Fate Vs. Destiny, and the idea of freewill. These concepts stuck with and challenged me to see my life and my learning in a new perspective. Challenging the idea of Fate Vs. Destiny, it was very hard for me to see how fate and freewill could both exist in the same world. Here are some questions prompted by the reading I did in Arendt (2005) this week:


  • Aren’t fate and freewill polar opposites?
  • How can one decide what comes next if their future is already set in stone and determined by the ideals of fate?
  • This concept challenges every man to think about his choices and the actions he makes, and to question wether or not his actions are truly his own. This concept can hold a deep fundamental root in government and politics. How can humans truly ‘rule’ over others if the path they follow is not their own?
  • Who is doing the ruling?


Discussion With Ralph:


The following passage challenged me to probe probe Arendt’s thesis about the evolution of political systems. According to Arendt, “It was never even considered by our tradition of political thought, which began after the ideal of the hero, the ‘doer of good deed and speaker of great words,’ had given way to that of the statesman as lawgiver, whose function was not to act but to impose permanent rules on the changing circumstances and unstable affairs of acting men.” (47) What does this passage represent when considering fate and freewill? After unpacking it we could see a very strong correlation with the development of government. The morphing and evolution into a society which no longer valued or looked up the hero and warrior, but rather followed the emperor, the imposer of rule and law. Why did this fundamental shift happen? Along with development comes a need to expand, a need to grow, and a need for leadership as well as politics. There comes a time when the strongest man is no longer the wisest.

These concepts swirled around in my head over daily interludes and conversations of religion. Who is God and what does he stand for? I relayed to Ralph my common conception of what God is: the being and the explanation for all that human minds can not comprehend. God stands for the third dimension of our mind, the z-axis, the part that can’t quite make sense of space…or even death. Cornel West touches on these ideas on a section of ‘The Examined Life’ entitled Truth. West touches on many of these important issues such as our finite existence and how it is vital for us to search within ourselves and find who we are. West talks about truth and its importance for living a pure life. This is an amazing video that touches on many aspects of what I have been grappling with this week.

Overall this was a fantastic week that challenged me to look further and deeper into my reading and myself. I came up with new opinions, interpreted my reading in different ways, and sifted through my conversations with Ralph to find what was most meaningful to me and what resonated the most. I questioned the readings, but most of all I was able to understand the message that Arendt (2005) was trying to convey in my latest readings. I cannot wait to begin next week and work on getting better and making my voice even stronger.



The future:

I also had a wonderful talk with Ralph this week about the second half of my semester and potential projects. I am looking forward to crafting a meaningful project to exemplify my learning. I want to take everything I will learn in the first half of this semester and apply it in the second. I want to use my knowledge of philosophy and the fundamentals of statehood and philosophy to unpack and analyze current affairs and issues going on in this world.

This was by all standards a fruitful and amazing week. I cannot wait to see what next week and the uncovering of Aristotle holds. I am also interesting in beginning to develop my reading responses. How might I start responding and summarizing only my reading during the week? My goal is to have a video blog up by Wednesday. I have also begun to reach out to other young bloggers and examine my place in the online community. How can I fit in and tie my work together with others?

Thank you so much for reading and please comment below! Next week, my reading moves onto Arendt’s last essay in the book “Introduction Into Politics” Please check back next week for more insights, comments, and questions.











-Arendt, H., & Kohn, J. (2005). The promise of politics. New York: Schocken Books

-West, Cornell; (2011). EXAMINED LIFE: Cornel West on TRUTH