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Aristotle on Politics and Work

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7 months ago

Aristotle said:



“From these considerations it is evident that the city belongs to the class of things that exist by nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. He who is without a city, by reason of his own nature and not of some accident, is either a poor sort of being, or a being higher than man: he is like the man of whom Homer wrote in denunciation: ‘Clanless and lawless and heartless is he.’ The man who is such by nature at once plunges into a passion of war; he is in the position of a solitary advanced piece in a game of draughts.


What is common to the greatest number gets the least amount of care. People pay most attention to what is their own: they care less for what is common; or, at any rate, they care for it only to the extent to which each is individually concerned. Even where there is no other cause for inattention, people are more prone to neglect their duty when they think that another is attending to it: this is what happens in domestic service, where many attendants are sometimes of less assistance than a few. The scheme proposed in the Republic means that each citizen will have a thousand sons: they will not be the sons of each citizen individually: any son whatever will be equally the son of any father whatever. The result will be that all will equally neglect them.


It would also appear to be a defect that one person should hold a number of offices, which is a practice in vogue at Carthage. Each job is done best when it is done by one man; and the lawgiver should see that this rule is followed, and not set the same man to be both flute-player and cobbler. Accordingly, except in a small city, it is at once more states-manlike and more democratic that a larger number of citizens should share in office. Then, as we have already argued, the work is shared more widely and each particular job is done better and more quickly. This is clearly evident in military and naval matters. In both, the practice of ruling and being ruled extends to everyone concerned.”

Latent Thoughts #24






Source: Politics by Aristotle

Painting: La belle ferronnière by Leonardo Da Vinci

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