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Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll


Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


Aristotle's Politics

by Aristotle

Excerpt:

j may perhaps be inferred from the comments which, in ,e«eral passages of the Politics, he passes on monarchies

1 tyrannies. About the year 335, on the eve of Alex

ler's great campaigns of conquest, the philosopher turned back on Macedonia; we may infer from what he says of

pires, that while he realized their possible services to civili

2 Introduction

zation, he was still more alive to the dangers, moral and other, which beset the path of a military and aggressive state. His sympathies were with the past, not the future; with Sparta and Athens rather than with Macedon; with Plato rather than with Alexander. Settling down at Athens, he became the leader of a philosophic school, the director of a brilliant academy; but he incurred the odium to which a friend of Macedon was naturally exposed in the city of Demosthenes. In 323, after the death of his pupil and patron, he was driven into exile by a prosecution for impiety which, if he had faced it, would probably have brought upon his head the fate of Socrates. He died in the following year at Chalcis, a Macedonian stronghold. The semi-barbarians, of whose future he doubted, had been more generous to him than the Greeks, whose highest thought it had been his life-work to interpret and to vindicate.

Of his literary work in general this is not the place to speak. It is enough to say that he aimed at expounding in the light of his own philosophic principles all the sciences which were then recognized, and that he followed consistently the method, of which the Politics are a conspicuous illustration, of combining induction with deductive reasoning from first principles, and of testing his own conclusions by a comparison with popular opinions and those of other teachers. Encyclopaedic knowledge has never, before or since, gone hand in hand with a logic so masculine or with speculation so profound. But it is in dealing with the moral rather than the natural sciences that he is greatest, most adequately equipped with facts, and most interested in his subject. Of his work in the moral sciences the final results are incorporated in the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics. The two treatises are intimately connected. In the Ethics he

Introduction 3

discusses the nature of individual happiness or well-being;in the Politics he treats of the_state as one of the chief means tHrough wE1chthe individual attains to ^3pp'tn~e"is!r''*"'The 5bjOTl"~of the Politics is both practical and Speculative; to ' explain the nature of the ideal city in which the end of happiness may be completely realized; to suggest some methods of making existent states more useful to the individual citizen than they were in Aristotle's time, or had been in the past.

Aristotle is not, strictly speaking, the founder of political

science. In the age of Pericles, and earlier still, statesmen

and philosophers had theorized about the origin of society,

the relative merits of various constitutions, and other kindred

topics. Though Socrates was more concerned with ethics

than with politics, he applied the powerful solvent of his

dialectic to many of the political ideas which were fashionable

in his day. The conceptions of utility as the ideal which the

statesman should pursue, and of scientific knowledge as the

indispensable equipment of the statesman, would seem to have

had their birth in the Socratic circle. Plato, the pupil of

Socrates, not content with developing the suggestions of his

master and with giving to the Socratic formulae a deeper

meaning, essayed a more systematic discussion of the nature

of the state and its right organization. In the Republic he

describes the state as it would appear if founded and governed

by philosophers ; in the Laws he offered to the statesmen of


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