Bertrand Russell

A History of Western Philosophy  (1945)


General Introduction to Aristotle

Chapter 26: Aristotle’s Metaphysics


[1] In reading any important philosopher, but most of all in reading Aristotle, it is necessary to study him in two ways: with reference to his predecessors, and with reference to his successors. In the former aspect, Aristotle’s merits are enormous; in the latter, his demerits are equally enormous. For his demerits, however, his successors are more responsible than he is. He came at the end of the creative period in Greek thought, and after his death it was two thousand years before the world produced any philosopher who could be regarded as approximately his equal. Towards the end of this long period his authority had become almost as unquestioned as that of the Church, and in science, as well as in philosophy, had become a serious obstacle to progress. Ever since the beginning of the seventeenth century, almost every serious intellectual advance has had to begin with an attack on some Aristotelian doctrine; in logic, this is still true at the present day. But it would have been at least as disastrous if any of his predecessors (except perhaps Democritus) had acquired equal authority. To do him justice, we must, to begin with, forget his excessive posthumous fame, and the equally excessive posthumous condemnation to which it led.


[2] Aristotle was born, probably in 384 B.C., at Stagyra in Thrace. His father had inherited the position of family physician to the king of Macedonia. At about the age of eighteen Aristotle came to Athens and became a pupil of Plato; he remained in the Academy for nearly twenty years, until the death of Plato in 348-7 B.C. In 343 B.C. he became tutor to Alexander, then thirteen years old, and continued in that position until, at the age of sixteen, Alexander was pronounced by his father to be of age, and was appointed regent during Philip’s absence. Everything one would wish to know of the relations of Aristotle and Alexander is unascertainable, the more so as legends were soon invented on the subject. There are letters between them which are generally regarded as forgeries. People who admire both men suppose that the tutor influenced the pupil.


[3] It is surprising that Alexander had so little influence on Aristotle, whose speculations on politics were blandly oblivious of the fact that the era of City States had given way to the era of empires. I suspect that Aristotle, to the end, thought of him as “that idle and headstrong boy, who never could understand anything of philosophy.” On the whole, the contacts of these two great men seem to have been as unfruitful as if they had lived in different worlds. From 335 B.C. to 323 B.C. (in which latter year Alexander died), Aristotle lived at Athens. It was during these twelve years that he founded his school and wrote most of his books. At the death of Alexander, the Athenians rebelled, and turned on his friends, including Aristotle, who was indicted for impiety, but, unlike Socrates, fled to avoid punishment. In the next year (322) he died.


[4] Aristotle, as a philosopher, is in many ways very different from all his predecessors. He is the first to write like a professor: his treatises are systematic, his discussions are divided into heads, he is a professional teacher, not an inspired prophet. His work is critical, careful, pedestrian, without any trace of Bacchic enthusiasm. The Orphic elements in Plato are watered down in Aristotle, and mixed with a strong dose of common sense; where he is Platonic, one feels that his natural temperament has been overpowered by the teaching to which he has been subjected. He is not passionate, or in any profound sense religious. The errors of his predecessors were the glorious errors of youth attempting the impossible; his errors are those of age which cannot free itself of habitual prejudices. He is best in detail and in criticism; he fails in large construction, for lack of fundamental clarity and Titanic fire.



Russell─ Chapter 21: Aristotle’s Politics

[1] Aristotle’s Politics is both interesting and important-interesting, as showing the common prejudices of educated Greeks in his time, and important as a source of many principles which remained influential until the end of the Middle Ages. I do not think there is much in it that could be of any practical use to a statesman of the present day, but there is a great deal that throws light on the conflicts of parties in different parts of the Hellenic world. There is not very much awareness of methods of government in non-Hellenic States. There are, it is true, allusions to Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and Carthage, but except in the case of Carthage they are somewhat perfunctory.


[2] There is no mention of Alexander, and not even the faintest awareness of the complete transformation that he was effecting in the world. The whole discussion is concerned with City States, and there is no prevision of their obsolescence. Greece, owing to its division into independent cities, was a laboratory of political experiment; but nothing to which these experiments were relevant existed from Aristotle’s time until the rise of the Italian cities in the Middle Ages. In many ways, the experience to which Aristotle appeals is more relevant to the comparatively modern world than to any that existed for fifteen hundred years after the book was written.


[3] There are many pleasant incidental remarks, some of which may be noted before we embark upon political theory. We are told that Euripides, when he was staying at the court of Archelaus, King of Macedon, was accused of halitosis by a certain Decamnichus. To soothe his fury, the king gave him permission to scourge Decamnichus, which he did. Decamnichus, after waiting many years, joined in a successful plot to kill the king; but by this time Euripides was dead. We are told that children should be conceived in winter, when the wind is in the north; that there must be a careful avoidance of indecency, because “shameful words lead to shameful acts,” and that obscenity is never to be tolerated except in temples, where the law permits even ribaldry. People should not marry too young, because, if they do, the children will be weak and female, the wives will become wanton, and the husbands stunted in their growth. The right age for marriage is thirty-seven in men, eighteen in women.


[4] We learn how Thales, being taunted with his poverty, bought up all the olive-presses on the instalment plan, and was then able to charge monopoly rates for their use. This he did to show that philosophers can make money, and, if they remain poor, it is because they have something more important than wealth to think about. All this, however, is by the way; it is time to come to more serious matters.


[5] The book begins by pointing out the importance of the State; it is the highest kind of community, and aims at the highest good. In order of time, the family comes first; it is built on the two fundamental relations of man and woman, master and slave, both of which are natural. Several families combined make a village; several villages, a State, provided the combination is nearly large enough to be self-sufficing. The State, though later in time than the family, is prior to it, and even to the individual, by nature; for “what each thing is when fully developed we call its nature,” and human society, fully developed, is a State, and the whole is prior to the part. The conception involved here is that of organism: a hand, when the body is destroyed, is, we are told, no longer a hand. The implication is that a hand is to be defined by its purpose— that of grasping— which it can only perform when joined to a living body. In like manner, an individual cannot fulfil his purpose unless he is part of a State. He who founded the State, Aristotle says, was the greatest of benefactors; for without law man is the worst of animals, and law depends, for its existence, on the State.


[6] The State is not a mere society for exchange and the prevention of crime: “The end of the State is the good life. . . . And the State is the union of families and villages in a perfect and self-sufficing life, by which we mean a happy and honorable life” (1280b). “A political society exists for the sake of noble actions, not of mere companionship” (1281a).


[7] A State being composed of households, each of which consists of one family, the discussion of politics should begin with the family. The bulk of this discussion is concerned with slavery— for in antiquity the slaves were always reckoned as part of the family. Slavery is expedient and right, but the slave should be naturally inferior to the master. From birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule; the man who is by nature not his own but another man’s is by nature a slave. Slaves should not be Greeks, but of an inferior race with less spirit (1255a and 1330a).


[8] Tame animals are better off when ruled by man, and so are those who are naturally inferior when ruled by their superiors. It may be questioned whether the practice of making slaves out of prisoners of war is justified; power, such as leads to victory in war, seems to imply superior virtue, but this is not always the case. War, however, is just when waged against men who, though intended by nature to be governed, will not submit (1256b); and in this case, it is implied, it would be right to make slaves of the conquered. This would seem enough to justify any conqueror who ever lived; for no nation will admit that it is intended by nature to be governed, and the only evidence as to nature’s intentions must be derived from the outcome of war. In every war, therefore, the victors are in the right and the vanquished in the wrong. Very satisfactory! . . .


[9] Trade has to do with money, but wealth is not the acquisition of coin. Wealth derived from trade is justly hated, because it is unnatural. “The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. ... Of all modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.” . . .


[10] Greek philosophers belonged to, or were employed by, the landowning class; they therefore disapproved of interest. Mediaeval philosophers were churchmen, and the property of the Church was mainly in land; they therefore saw no reason to revise Aristotle’s opinion. Their objection to usury was reinforced by anti-Semitism, for most fluid capital was Jewish. Ecclesiastics and barons had their quarrels, sometimes very bitter; but they could combine against the wicked Jew who had tided them over a bad harvest by means of a loan, and considered that he deserved some reward for his thrift.



Richard E. Rubenstein

Aristotle's Children (2003)

Prologue: The Medieval Star-Gate


[1] There are few stories more appealing than tales of ancient knowledge long lost, then astonishingly found. In the classic version, an unsuspecting discoverer uncovers buried tablets while digging in a field, stumbles upon clay jars in a cave, or finds a dust-covered lamp or chest in the attic. Worthless junk, surely. On the verge of discarding it, however, the finder hesitates. What odd signs and symbols are these, etched in the metal, inscribed in stone, or inked on rolls of stiffened parchment? Perhaps the musty old thing has some value after all. The innocent discoverer has no idea, of course, that these arcane markings embody the voices of a vanished world. Someone more knowledgeable will have to recognize the relic for what it is: an intellectual treasure far more precious than gold or jewels. A source of ancient wisdom and power. Yes— a potent talisman capable of conjuring up the past, altering the present, and disclosing the path to the future.


[2] The tale I am about to tell does not have this classic storybook form— there are many discoverers, not just one, and many discoveries as well— but in some ways it is more wonderful than the story of Aladdin's lamp or the search for the lost Ark of the Covenant. Make no mistake about it, this is a history not a fairytale. But it is not the sort of history to which the inhabitants of a scientific age are accustomed.


[3] Could there be hidden in some long-forgotten storehouse a treasure trove of ancient knowledge— a body of learning so powerful and advanced that recovering it would revolutionize our thinking and transform our lives? From the standpoint of modern science, the notion is utter fantasy. We understand that scientific learning is cumulative, with each generation building on the work of its predecessors. We know a great deal more about the universe than our grandparents did, and their knowledge far outweighs that of their ancestors. Looking back, this implies a law of diminishing intellectual returns— a regression in knowledge that, projected back a millennium or two, leaves little room for the "secrets of the ancients." Moreover, the old documents we do dis-cover, like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels, do not contain revolutionary truths. As fascinating as they are, they do not threaten to overthrow our worldview, transform our science, or provide us with new models of social or political organization. Except in science fiction, one would not expect ancient writings to reveal a practical method of time travel, the secret of eternal youth, or even a cure for the common cold. 


[4] Of course not, seeing that "hard" scientific knowledge is cumulative. What one might expect to find in ancient manuscripts is noncumulative knowledge, "soft" learning involving issues of faith, ethics, folk wisdom, and personal philosophy. When it comes to deciding how to live and die, many people find the stories and sayings of the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, and other sacred books inspiring, although it is not at all certain how (or even whether) their truths can be proved. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." "Love thy neighbor as thyself." "God helps those who help themselves." Nowadays people call such thoughts "wisdom," although the ancients themselves would never think of separating ethical, religious, or philosophical knowledge from knowledge of the universe in general.' But we have been taught to make precisely this separation. The split between knowledge and wisdom, between the provable, apparently objective truths of science and the intuitive, subjective truths of religion and personal philosophy is a hallmark of what people now call the modern perspective. Ancient wisdom is fine in its place, says the modernist gospel, but when it comes to understanding how Homo sapiens and the rest of the universe are constructed, how they evolved, and how they operate, we will not find much of this sort of learning before the Age of Reason.


[5] Yet the idea of lost knowledge haunts even the skeptical consciousness of a scientific age. Banished from respectable discourse, it reappears in the form of legends and folktales about secrets of the pyramids, chariots of the Gods, and powerful relics that guard their treasures against impure investigators. One of the most vivid versions of the myth is that recounted by science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, which Stanley Kubrick brought to the screen in his classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. In that film, modern scientists discover an ancient artifact— a black monolith— buried on the moon. Eventually they come to understand that the mysterious object is a bequest from an alien people, a gift planted on Luna eons ago by representatives of an advanced interstellar species. Although the object's discovery seems accidental, the astral visitors who buried it made sure that human beings would find it only when they were prepared to appreciate and use it— that is, ready to take the next step in their social evolution. Unimaginably ancient (Clarke envisions a similar monolith stimulating the original transformation from hominid to man), its real function is that of a "star-gate": a portal to the interplanetary future. 


[6] Our story, as I said, is not fantasy or science fiction, but the discovery it describes is far more like Arthur Clarke's monolith than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Once upon a time in the West, in Spain, to be exact, a collection of documents that had lain in darkness for more than one thousand years was brought to light, and the effects of the discovery were truly revolutionary. Aristotle's books were the medieval Christians' star-gate. For Europeans of the High Middle Ages, the dramatic reappearance of the Greek philosopher's lost works was an event so unprecedented and of such immense impact as to be either miraculous or diabolical, depending on one's point of view. The knowledge contained in these manuscripts was "hard" as well as "soft," and it was remarkably comprehensive. Some three thousand pages of material ranging over the whole spectrum of learning from biology and physics to logic, psychology, ethics, and political science seemed to be a bequest from a superior civilization. 


[7] Or, I should say, from two superior civilizations. For Aristotle's books were not discovered written in Greek and stored in clay jars, but written in Arabic and housed in the libraries of the great universities at Baghdad, Cairo, Toledo, and Cordoba. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the collapse of order in Europe, the works of Aristotle and other Greek scientists became the intellectual property of the prosperous and enlightened Arab civilization that ruled the great southern crescent extending from Persia to Spain. As a result, when Western Europeans translated these works into Latin with the help of Muslim and Jewish scholars, they also translated the works of their leading Islamic and Jewish interpreters, world-class philosophers like Avicenna, Averroes, and Moses Maimonides.


[8] The result was stunning. It was as if one were to find preserved in an antique vessel not just the works of some ancient Einstein but interpretations, applications, and updates of the material by Einstein himself and other modern physicists. Because of these commentaries, Aristotle's work turned up in immediately usable— and highly controversial— form. For medieval Christians, reading his books for the first time was like finding a recipe for interstellar travel or a cure for AIDS inscribed on some ancient papyrus. It was the sort of knowledge that is quite capable of overthrowing an existing world-view, revolutionizing science, and providing its readers with new models of human organization.


[9] For this reason, the reappearance of Aristotelian ideas in Europe had a transformative effect totally unlike that of any later discovery. It did not cause the far-reaching changes taking place in European society in the late Middle Ages: the increases in food production and trade, the development of cities, the spread of learning, and the growth of popular religious movements. The usefulness of Aristotle's methods and concepts (like that of Clarke's star-gate) depended upon the achievement of a certain level of technical and economic progress, the development of a certain cultural momentum, by the receiving society. Given this momentum, however, the discoveries had a slingshot effect, accelerating the pace and deepening the quality of scientific and philosophical inquiry. In the Latin West, Aristotle's recovered work was the key to further developments that would turn Europe from a remote, provincial region into the very heartland of an expansive global civilization.


[10] Imagine, more than four centuries before Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes proclaimed the Scientific Revolution, a recognizably modern perspective— rationalist, this-worldly, humanistic, and empirical— ignited cultural warfare throughout Western Europe, challenging traditional religious and social beliefs at their now call science was part of a comprehensive worldview that included logic, ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics, and even theology— and everyone involved in the conflict was a committed Christian. The controversy was really about the extent to which European intellectuals would commit themselves to the quest for rational understanding, and how they could do so without losing their religious and cultural identity.


[11] Could Christian thinkers inspired by Aristotle make sense of the natural universe, including the realm of human motivations and relations? Could they use these same techniques of reasoning to explain the relationship of the created world to God? To many traditionalists, the project seemed as dangerous as it was ambitious. Aristotle was a pagan, and certain of his ideas clashed with established Christian doctrines. More important, the Aristotelian stance, with its unabashed admiration for the material world, its distaste for mystical explanations of natural phenomena, and its optimism about human nature, ran counter to centuries of otherworldly, ascetic Christian values and practices.


[12] Could Christian thinkers follow the teachings of the Greek sage they called "the Philosopher" and follow Jesus Christ, too? For almost a century, the answer remained in doubt. Because of the threat they posed to established modes of thought, Aristotle's books of "natural philosophy" were originally considered too dangerous to be taught at European universities. Early in the thirteenth century they were banned, and some of their more wild-eyed proponents were burned as heretics. As late as 1277, the Church condemned a number of Aristotelian ideas being taught in the schools, including some propositions espoused by the century's greatest genius, Thomas Aquinas. In the end, however, the leaders of the Church allowed Christian thinking to be transformed by the new worldview. With irreversible social changes remaking European society, they realized that the Church would have to adapt to new currents of thought if it were to retain its position of intellectual and moral leadership. Farsighted popes and bishops therefore took the fateful step that Islamic leaders had rejected. By marrying Christian theology to Aristotelian science, they committed the West to an ethic of rational inquiry that would generate a succession of "scientific revolutions," as well as unforeseen upheavals in social and religious thought.


[13] As a result, Europe's first natural scientists were scholastic theologians, and its most innovative social thinkers were masters of arts in the new Catholic universities. For four centuries, European students— an elite destined for leading positions in the Church, the government, medicine, and law— were immersed in a curriculum that blended Aristotle's logic and natural philosophy with Christian education. Scientific activity (including the analytical treatment of ethics and politics) was legitimized by its association with religion, and theology— the application of reason to questions of faith— was considered the "queen of sciences." The Aristotelian movement had taken power ... yet the marriage of faith and reason was never an easy one. Even before Thomas Aquinas wrote his synthetic masterwork, Summa Theologica, conservatives were denouncing it for being too Greek and radicals for being too Christian. In the fourteenth century, the brilliant Franciscan scholar William of Ockham, insisted that Aquinas had erred in trying to formulate a "natural theology," and that science and religion would both be better off if they separated. By the time a new scientific revolution rocked Europe in the age of Galileo, the divorce proceedings were well under way. Most of the "new men" of the seventeenth century recognized Aristotle not as an inspiration but as an enemy.


[14] There were several reasons for this, but one, surely, is the degeneration of scholasticism. Once the source of creative speculation and rollicking, no-holds-barred debate, the universities now combined an arid orthodoxy in matters of doctrine with absurd theological hairsplitting. As the great Catholic humanist Erasmus noted, the "scientific" theologians of the schools were now devoting themselves to questions like "Shall we be permitted to eat and drink after the resurrection?" ("We're taking due precautions against hunger and thirst while there's still time," he remarked dryly.') With the Church on the defensive against Protestant rebellion and the growth of secular power, Aristotle's followers had become knee-jerk conservatives, slavishly defending their master's every conclusion, even in the face of newly discovered evidence to the contrary. Thus, when Galileo's telescope revealed that the moon was pockmarked and that the planet Venus waxed and waned like the moon, many scholars declared that there must be something wrong with his lenses, since the Philosopher had held that the heavenly bodies were perfect and unchangeable, and that the earth, not the sun, stood at the center of the universe. As Galileo remarked, Aristotle himself, with his great respect for evidence, would never have reached such a conclusion.


[15] Other thinkers of the post-medieval Renaissance were not as kind as Galileo to their great intellectual ancestor. After Copernicus and his successors set the earth in motion and abolished most of the distinctions between the laws governing earthly and heavenly behavior, Aristotle's ideas were frequently portrayed as rank superstition— a relic of the dark, medieval past. But this was never the case. Aristotle's cosmology was wrong, not "unscientific." Like the rest of his system, it was based on principles, highly controversial at first, that later became accepted pillars of scientific method: for example, the ideas that the world our senses show us is real, not just a shadow of reality; that humans using their reason are capable of discovering general truths about this world; that understanding phenomena means comprehending relationships of cause and effect; and that natural processes are developmental, revealing to skillful inquirers orderly patterns of growth and change. Of course, the Philosopher's science was not ours. His worldview contains many features that modern science rejects, and omits one feature— mathematics— that scientists today insist on. But the dogmatism of his latter-day followers was not his. It was a senile manifestation of a system that, in its prime, revolutionized European thinking and gave it many of its boldest and most dynamic characteristics.


[16] With the further progress of science, the growth of secular power, and the fragmentation of the Church, Aristotle's work lost its standing as the key to universal knowledge. Simultaneously, among European intellectuals, the divorce of faith and reason became final. Driven by a need to liberate their thinking from religious constraints, the apostles of the Enlightenment engineered a separation between subject and object, values and facts, religious beliefs and scientific knowledge, which still commands widespread acceptance. Or does it? During the past three decades, the conflict that first rocked Western society in the High Middle Ages has reappeared on a global scale. The most violent and dramatic struggles pit the zealous defenders of traditional religious beliefs and attitudes against their modernist and postmodernist opponents. But it is not only the "fundamentalists" who declare themselves dissatisfied with the split between scientific and religious thought. Theologians, scientists, and humanists of diverse backgrounds and views are again wrestling with the issues that made Europe's universities and churches an intellectual (and sometimes a physical) battleground in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.


[17] Can thinking men and women comprehend the mysteries of the universe and master their own unruly natures? Is scientific enterprise consistent with religious belief? Does God intervene in nature and in human affairs? Can human beings live an ethical life without him? The rediscovery of Aristotle's works brought these ancient questions to the center of Western consciousness, inspiring a struggle to harmonize faith and reason that has not yet ended.



from The Politics


[1]  Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act 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. Some people think that the qualifications of a statesman, king, householder, and master are the same, and that they differ, not in kind, but only in the number of their subjects. For example, the ruler over a few is called a master; over more, the manager of a household; over a still larger number, a statesman or king, as if there were no difference between a great household and a small state. The distinction which is made between the king and the statesman is as follows: When the government is personal, the ruler is a king; when, according to the rules of the political science, the citizens rule and are ruled in turn, then he is called a statesman.


[2] But all this is a mistake; for governments differ in kind, as will be evident to any one who considers the matter according to the method which has hitherto guided us. As in other departments of science, so in politics, the compound should always be resolved into the simple elements or least parts of the whole. We must therefore look at the elements of which the state is composed, in order that we may see in what the different kinds of rule differ from one another, and whether any scientific result can be attained about each one of them.


[3] He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, whether a state or anything else, will obtain the clearest view of them. In the first place there must be a union of those who cannot exist without each other; namely, of male and female, that the race may continue (and this is a union which is formed, not of deliberate purpose, but because, in common with other animals and with plants, mankind have a natural desire to leave behind them an image of themselves), and of natural ruler and subject, that both may be preserved. For that which can foresee by the exercise of mind is by nature intended to be lord and master, and that which can with its body give effect to such foresight is a subject, and by nature a slave; hence master and slave have the same interest. Now nature has distinguished between the female and the slave. For she is not niggardly, like the smith who fashions the Delphian knife for many uses; she makes each thing for a single use, and every instrument is best made when intended for one and not for many uses. But among barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of slaves, male and female. Wherefore the poets say, "It is meet that Hellenes should rule over barbarians;" as if they thought that the barbarian and the slave were by nature one.


[4] Out of these two relationships between man and woman, master and slave, the first thing to arise is the family, and Hesiod is right when he says, "First house and wife and an ox for the plough," for the ox is the poor man's slave. The family is the association established by nature for the supply of men's everyday wants, and the members of it are called by Charondas 'companions of the cupboard,' and by Epimenides the Cretan, 'companions of the manger.' But when several families are united, and the association aims at something more than the supply of daily needs, the first society to be formed is the village. And the most natural form of the village appears to be that of a colony from the family, composed of the children and grandchildren, who are said to be suckled 'with the same milk.' And this is the reason why Hellenic states were originally governed by kings; because the Hellenes were under royal rule before they came together, as the barbarians still are. Every family is ruled by the eldest, and therefore in the colonies of the family the kingly form of government prevailed because they were of the same blood. As Homer says: "Each one gives law to his children and to his wives." For they lived dispersedly, as was the manner in ancient times. Wherefore men say that the Gods have a king, because they themselves either are or were in ancient times under the rule of a king. For they imagine, not only the forms of the Gods, but their ways of life to be like their own.


[5] When several villages are united in a single complete community, large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life. And therefore, if the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state, for it is the end of them, and the nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking of a man, a horse, or a family. Besides, the final cause and end of a thing is the best, and to be self-sufficing is the end and the best. Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the "Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one," whom Homer denounces— the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts.


[6] Now, that man is more of a political animal than bees or any other gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of speech. And whereas mere voice is but an indication of pleasure or pain, and is therefore found in other animals (for their nature attains to the perception of pleasure and pain and the intimation of them to one another, and no further), the power of speech is intended to set forth the expedient and inexpedient, and therefore likewise the just and the unjust. And it is a characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, of just and unjust, and the like, and the association of living beings who have this sense makes a family and a state.


Further, the state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part; for example, if the whole body be destroyed, there will be no foot or hand, except in an equivocal sense, as we might speak of a stone hand; for when destroyed the hand will be no better than that. But things are defined by their working and power; and we ought not to say that they are the same when they no longer have their proper quality, but only that they have the same name.


[7] The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state. A social instinct is implanted in all men by nature, and yet he who first founded the state was the greatest of benefactors. For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony. But justice is the bond of men in states, for the administration of justice, which is the determination of what is just, is the principle of order in political society.


[8] Seeing then that the state is made up of households, before speaking of the state we must speak of the management of the household. The parts of household management correspond to the persons who compose the household, and a complete household consists of slaves and freemen. Now we should begin by examining everything in its fewest possible elements; and the first and fewest possible parts of a family are master and slave, husband and wife, father and children. We have therefore to consider what each of these three relations is and ought to be: I mean the relation of master and servant, the marriage relation (the conjunction of man and wife has no name of its own), and thirdly, the procreative relation (this also has no proper name). And there is another element of a household, the so-called art of getting wealth, which, according to some, is identical with household management, according to others, a principal part of it; the nature of this art will also have to be considered by us.


[9]  Let us first speak of master and slave, looking to the needs of practical life and also seeking to attain some better theory of their relation than exists at present. For some are of opinion that the rule of a master is a science, and that the management of a household, and the mastership of slaves, and the political and royal rule, as I was saying at the outset, are all the same. Others affirm that the rule of a master over slaves is contrary to nature, and that the distinction between slave and freeman exists by law only, and not by nature; and being an interference with nature is therefore unjust.


 [10] But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature? There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule. And there are many kinds both of rulers and subjects (and that rule is the better which is exercised over better subjects— for example, to rule over men is better than to rule over wild beasts; for the work is better which is executed by better workmen, and where one man rules and another is ruled, they may be said to have a work); for in all things which form a composite whole and which are made up of parts, whether continuous or discrete, a distinction between the ruling and the subject element comes to fight. Such a duality exists in living creatures, but not in them only; it originates in the constitution of the universe; even in things which have no life there is a ruling principle, as in a musical mode. But we are wandering from the subject. We will therefore restrict ourselves to the living creature, which, in the first place, consists of soul and body: and of these two, the one is by nature the ruler, and the other the subject.


[11] But then we must look for the intentions of nature in things which retain their nature, and not in things which are corrupted. And therefore we must study the man who is in the most perfect state both of body and soul, for in him we shall see the true relation of the two; although in bad or corrupted natures the body will often appear to rule over the soul, because they are in an evil and unnatural condition.


[12] At all events we may firstly observe in living creatures both a despotic and a constitutional rule; for the soul rules the body with a despotic rule, whereas the intellect rules the appetites with a constitutional and royal rule. And it is clear that the rule of the soul over the body, and of the mind and the rational element over the passionate, is natural and expedient; whereas the equality of the two or the rule of the inferior is always hurtful. The same holds good of animals in relation to men; for tame animals have a better nature than wild, and all tame animals are better off when they are ruled by man; for then they are preserved. Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled; this principle, of necessity, extends to all mankind.


[13]  Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business is to use their body, and who can do nothing better), the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master. For he who can be, and therefore is, another's and he who participates in rational principle enough to apprehend, but not to have, such a principle, is a slave by nature. Whereas the lower animals cannot even apprehend a principle; they obey their instincts. And indeed the use made of slaves and of tame animals is not very different; for both with their bodies minister to the needs of life.


[14] Nature would like to distinguish between the bodies of freemen and slaves, making the one strong for servile labor, the other upright, and although useless for such services, useful for political life in the arts both of war and peace. But the opposite often happens- that some have the souls and others have the bodies of freemen. And doubtless if men differed from one another in the mere forms of their bodies as much as the statues of the gods do from men, all would acknowledge that the inferior class should be slaves of the superior. And if this is true of the body, how much more just that a similar distinction should exist in the soul? But the beauty of the body is seen, whereas the beauty of the soul is not seen. It is clear, then, that some men are by nature free, and others slaves, and that for these latter, slavery is both expedient and right.