Alumni

The challenge of physis Reconciling nature and reason in Aristotle's "Politics"

View Full Record
Description: In this project, I address the dilemma with which Aristotle begins the Politics : that the polis is both natural and formed by the human being. I argue for a reconsideration of [straight phi][Special characters omitted.] σι[varsigma] in Aristotle's famous claim that the polis exists by nature, [straight phi][Special characters omitted.] σει [Special characters omitted.] πóλι[varsigma] [Special characters omitted.] στι (Pol. 1253a2) in order to show that the work of reason in the human and the polis does not oppose nature but works to bring the human and the polis to their fulfillment. I argue that we must define [straight phi][Special characters omitted.] σι[varsigma] in Aristotle's Politics according to his treatment of it in the Physics as an internal principle of movement. This definition conceives [straight phi][Special characters omitted.] σι[varsigma] as a principle wherein the [Special characters omitted.] [varrho]χ[Special characters omitted.] (source) of a thing remains related to its τ[Special characters omitted.] λo[varsigma] (end), in contrast to objects of τ[Special characters omitted.] χνη (craft); it further makes sense of Aristotle's several arguments for the naturalness of the polis in Politics I.2. Moreover, this account makes [straight phi][Special characters omitted.] σι[varsigma] a ground for the polis even as it keeps the polis concerned with that ground. I argue that deliberation is the [Special characters omitted.] [varrho]χ[Special characters omitted.] of the polis and the constitution the τ[Special characters omitted.] λo[varsigma]. Deliberation determines what constitutes the end--living well--and forms a constitution that accomplishes that end. I consider Aristotle's linguistic argument for the political nature of the human being to show how language and then deliberation are fundamentally political activities even as they signal the naturalness of political life. I argue that the rational capacity of the human being does not compromise but rather fulfills her natural being just as deliberation in the polis does not make it unnatural but rather actualizes its end of living well. From Politics III, I argue that the constitution as the organization of citizens manifests their notion of what counts as living well. I argue that this ontology of the polis is on display in the interplay between the constitution and the virtue of the citizens, between the rule of law and the rule of persons and in the details of Aristotle's recommendations for preservation of constitutions.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work