Exhibit Honors Bachelor of Arts
Aristotle & Locke: Ancients and Moderns on Economic Theory & the Best Regime Andrew John Del Bene Xavier University - Cincinnati
Follow this and additional works at: http://www.exhibit.xavier.edu/hab Part of the Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity Commons, and the Ancient Philosophy Commons Recommended Citation Del Bene, Andrew John, "Aristotle & Locke: Ancients and Moderns on Economic Theory & the Best Regime" (2015). Honors Bachelor of Arts. Paper 9. http://www.exhibit.xavier.edu/hab/9
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Aristotle & Locke: Ancients and Moderns on Economic Theory & the Best Regime
Andrew John Del Bene Honors Bachelor of Arts – Senior Thesis Project
Dr. Timothy Quinn Dr. Amit Sen & Dr. E. Paul Colella
Dr. Shannon Hogue
I respectfully submit this thesis project as partial fulfillment for the Honors Bachelor of Arts Degree.
I dedicate this project, and my last four years as an HAB at Xavier University, to my grandfather, John Francis Del Bene, who taught me that in life, you get out what you put in.
Table of Contents Introduction — Philosophy and Economics, Ancients and Moderns
Chapter One — Aristotle: Politics
Community: the Household and the Πόλις
State: Economics and Education
Analytic Synthesis: Aristotle
Chapter Two — John Locke: The Two Treatises of Government
Community: the State of Nature and Civil Society
State: Economics and Education
Analytic Synthesis: Locke
Chapter Three — Aristotle v. Locke
The Nature of Humanity and Civil Agglomeration
Economics and Property, The Material Goods of a Society
The Ends of Civil Agglomeration and The Non-Material Goods of a Society
Conclusion — The Good
Introduction – Philosophy and Economics, Ancients and Moderns “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” - Greek Proverb I believe that philosophy and economics, being timeless and ubiquitously applicable, complement each other perfectly: both seeking to explain all things human through qualitative and quantitative means, respectively. When Plato discusses goods, economists draw an increasing line of diminishing marginal utility. When Aristotle declares that something is advantageous to all, economists draw a cost-revenue graph illustrating where maximum benefit occurs. Philosophy and economics address the same human interactions and behaviors, merely through different means; both are lenses through which we can understand humanity, its motivations and ends, in all times and all places. Just as economic thought has changed, so too has the study of philosophy. Rene Descartes is held popularly as the father of modern philosophy, ushering in a new era of philosophical means and ends with his notorious cogito ergo sum—I think, therefore, I am.1 This simple phrase is responsible for altering the entire nature of philosophy and marks the transition from ancient thought into what we now call modernity. Because of this shift, there is a problem: known as “the quarrel between the ancients and the moderns,” the rift between pre-Renaissance and post-Renaissance philosophers has created two macroscopic schools of philosophical thought. These two schools fundamentally view humanity and philosophical issues differently, and to many are, therefore, irreconcilable. One of the foremost principles of the modern philosophical school is the unique ability for the individual to set and pursue his or her own goals. However, when contrasted with the nature of a political community and interpreted in absolute terms, individuality and community in modernity stand in direct opposition to each other. In an attempt to resolve this ancientmodern problem, through a philosophical analysis of ancient and modern political-economics, I seek a more nuanced understanding of these ideas: seeing them as complementary, rather than contradictory. That is, the idea that a person can be a unique individual while participating fully in a human community for both personal and public benefit is not merely possible, but a wholly worthwhile synthesis of private and public good. I use the term “political-economy” to describe this situation because it summarizes the qualitative (philosophical) and quantitative (economic) 1
Descartes (1998), p. 18
aspects of a human community on the political order of magnitude—the highest level of human agglomeration and organization. In modern political-economies, the battle between ancient and modern philosophical thought occurs in all issues that concern how we as individuals view ourselves both in relation to other individuals, and as members of the global biosphere. The battle between private good and public good as ideals of human interaction is waged especially fervently in today’s statehouses over the role of the state in the lives and well being of its citizens. When examining the current state of political economics, especially the United States, it seems that the focus has been skewed detrimentally towards the unbridled progress of modernity: the mastery and possession of nature which Descartes viewed as the end of philosophy and all modern science. While scientific progress, as motivated by modern individuality, has accomplished great things, the costs have never been greater. In a world where each generation strives further than each that came before it, the amount of people left behind or wounded by this progress is increasing at the very same alarming rate. Care only for oneself stands in opposition to the very nature of human agglomerations; political organizations of all magnitudes do not exist to better some at the expense of others but exist to guarantee a fruitful existence for all members of that community, at least according to some theories. I personally hold this to be true: that very nature of communities is to share the resources of the earth and the ingenuity of its people for the betterment of all; when a disproportionate amount of the population owns an equally disproportionate amount of the wealth, one cannot help but wonder if there is a better way of organizing a political society. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this debate was largely waged through socialism and capitalism: two political-economic systems that stand opposed to each other on how most scholars view the political spectrum. While an interesting debate, capitalism and socialism will not be discussed in this paper, but are mentioned here as a noteworthy examples of this private-public good debate among political economies. While the times of ancient philosophy have passed, there are a number of notable thinkers in modernity who also view ancient philosophy as the redemptive school of thought that will restore certain parts of humanity, now forgotten by modern philosophy. In one of his seminal works, Martin Heidegger discusses the loss of linguistic value and cultural significance observed in the political economies of his contemporary Europe due to the influence of Cartesian modernity. In order to return humanity to an authenticity of being, Heidegger calls for a revival
of the ancient Greeks as a people whom modernity can imitate in order to regain cultural definition and significance. For Heidegger, this process of returning to an understanding of authentic “being” begins in language. Friederich Nietzsche calls for a similar return to the ancient Greeks through art and history, in addition to language, in order to achieve the same revitalization of an authentic human experience. It is by their inspiration that I will attempt in this project to demonstrate the benefit of ancient political thought to contemporary politics. In this paper, I will attempt to weigh the benefits and failings of the ancient and modern political-economic systems, as described in their philosophical forms, in order to determine which can better provide for the goods of humanity. This project sets out to demonstrate that the πόλις designed by Aristotle in the Politics can better provide for both the material and nonmaterial goods of a political agglomeration than the one designed by John Locke in the Second Treatise of Civil Government. These goods consist of two things: the authenticity of human existence, providing for the non-material goods of individuals and communities, and the progress of modern science and technology, providing for material the increase of both the quality and quantity of human life. First and second, I will perform two distinct analyses of Aristotle’s Politics and John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government in order to distill the essence of ancient and modern political philosophy from these works, respectively. These authors were chosen because of their gravitas on the topic of political philosophy: Aristotle as the father of the oldest extant work of direct political theory, and Locke as the political thinker whose revolutionary work largely shaped subsequent constitutions and political theories. Additionally, Locke is seen as the predecessor to Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, and is held responsible for providing Smith with the philosophical environment in which he could write his economic treatises. Third, I will conclude with three criteria why one political philosophy better provides for the comprehensive goods of a People than the other; these criteria are the interpreted accounts of: the nature of humanity versus the reasons for civil agglomeration, economics and property, and the final ends of civil agglomerations and their value.
Chapter One – Aristotle: Politics The Politics of Aristotle represents an alternative view and method of examining the πολιτεία, or form of a city, to that of Plato in the Republic. While Plato does draft the design of a city during his investigation into the nature of justice, Aristotle, through explicitly political means, seeks the form of a city that directs itself toward some good, if not the Good. Leo Strauss explains the distinction between Plato and Aristotle’s political philosophy: “As regards to political things, Aristotle acts directly as the teacher of indefinitely many legislators or statesmen whom he addresses collectively and simultaneously, whereas Plato presents his political philosopher as guiding, in a conversation, one or two men who seek the best political order or are about to legislate for a definite community.”2 Strauss draws this view from the fact that Platonic political philosophy comes to the reader dialectically, while Aristotelian political philosophy comes to the reader as a treatise. This explains why the Republic founds a city based on myth and the soul, whereas Politics begins with an observation, and deals with practical human behaviors in the founding of its city that take their bearing from philosophical concepts. This distinction is necessary because Aristotle’s treatise, addressed to an audience on politics, is written for practical applicability while the Platonic dialogue is a philosophical musing among a few number of conversation partners for whom the implications of the conversation ends with the conversation itself. As Plato employs his account of the human soul as the foundation for his Just City, Aristotle’s Politics begins with an explanation as to the nature of man and why, according to that nature, polities and their ends come to exist. The good is the subject of Aristotle’s inquiry from the very beginning of the Politics: Ἐπειδὴ πᾶσαν πόλιω ὁρῶμεν κοινωνίαν τινὰ οὖσαν καὶ πᾶσαν κοινωνίαν ἀγαθοῦ τινος ἕνεκεν συνεστηκυῖαν (τοῦ γὰρ εἶναι δοκοῦντος ἀγαθοῦ χάριν πάντα πράττουσι πάντες), δῆλον ὡς πᾶσαι μὲν ἀγαθοῦ τινος στοχάζονται... (Aristotle, Politics 1252a1-4) “Since we see that every city is some sort of community, and that every community is constituted for the sake of some good (for everyone does everything for the sake of what is held to be good), it is clear that all communities aim at some good...”3 2 3
Strauss (1964), p. 21 Lord (2013), Politics p. 1
Indeed, all people seek some kind of good; whether selfish or interpersonal, humans always seek a variety of beneficial things. In economic terms, individuals always seek to maximize their utility. Strauss elaborates on Aristotle’s contentment around the idea of what is good: “there is a great variety of opinions as to what constitutes happiness but Aristotle is satisfied that there is no serious disagreement on this subject among sufficiently thoughtful people.”4 While the stratification and specialization of the πόλις that the Politics establishes will be explored later, it appears that from the very beginning, Aristotle is addressing “gentlemen and statesmen” who are sufficiently educated so that they may understand human nature in a rational manner.5 This clear audience that Aristotle conceives of works to establish justification for his stratified and specialized community. What remains important from the outset is that while the aim of the individual may not always be the highest good—that is, life in accordance with virtue and wisdom—some good is perpetually the aim of the individual, and thus the communities that he or she comprises. In order to achieve some kind of good, Aristotle believes: Ἀνάγκη δὴ πρῶτον συνδυάζεσθαι τοὺς ἄνευ ἀλλήλων μὴ δυναμένους εἶναι, οἷον θῆλυ μὲν καὶ ἄρρεν τῆς γεννήσεως ἕνεκεν..., ἄρχον δὲ φύσει καὶ ἀρχόμενον διὰ τὴν σωτηρίαν. (Aristotle, Politics 1252a26-31) “First, then, there must of necessity be a conjoining of persons who cannot exist without one another: on the one hand, male and female, for the sake of reproduction... on the other, the naturally ruling and ruled, on account of preservation.”6 For Aristotle, man is by nature a communal animal; it is necessary that the individual form relationships on account of survival, and thus mankind is predisposed to form communities. The family and the political community are the relationships most natural to man because they simultaneously guarantee survival needs, and enable the pursuit of the good. In this, Aristotle asserts that man is by nature a non-individualistic creature because the building of communities on all scales is most natural to him. These two relationships form the substance and structure of Aristotle’s πόλις: the community and the state. The political community—the community on the scale of the whole πόλις—is made up of the city’s households, where individuals live and strive towards some 4
Strauss (1964), p. 31 Strauss (1964), p. 28 6 Lord (2013), Politics p. 2 5
good according to their nature. The state is the structure of the πόλις that gives direction to the strivings of the community. The community itself and the state that directs its strivings unite into a single political-economic entity: the πόλις. When reading Aristotle, the distinction between community and state is only worthy of note when studying the πόλις from its philosophical inception; otherwise, the πόλις represents a perfect unity of all citizens striving together, lacking any distinction between substance (community) and structure (state). For Aristotle, both relationships should work so cohesively towards the good of the πόλις as a whole, that they cease to be distinguishable. Strauss expands upon this distinction: “Each individual strives for happiness as he understands happiness. This striving, which is partly competitive with and partly cooperative with the strivings of everyone else, produces or constitutes a kind of web; that web is “society” as distinguished from the state, which mainly secures the conditions for the striving of individuals.”7 In order to clarify the simultaneous distinction and unity between the community and the state under the umbrella of the πόλις, I propose a metaphor. The community is similar to a crucible of molten steel: unorganized and homogenous. The molten steel becomes useful when it is poured into a mold, which shapes the steel, thus forming an implement that enables productivity; so too does the community become a πόλις when it is organized into a productive structure by means of a state. The state is merely a structure that organizes the strivings of the community, not a distinct entity within the πόλις. The unity of the community and the state in Aristotle’s πόλις is essential to providing for the non-material goods of a society; according to Strauss, Aristotle warns against a society with harsh distinction between the community and the state by reminding his readers of the City of Pigs (Aristotle, Politics 1280a25-b35). Such a harsh distinction, and thus state of life, seems to foreshadow modern society: where the state simply provides the safety for its community to conduct trade and survive, without a mind towards the comprehensive good of this community.8
Strauss (1964), p. 32 For the sake of clarity and fidelity to Aristotle, we replace Strauss’ use of “society” with “community.” Society is a modern term coined from the Latin word societas, societatis that is meant to undermine the differences between political communities as the world progressed from the regional city-states to globalized nation-states. In order to remain faithful to Aristotle and reach a better understanding of his work, it is best to use κοινονία, which translates as “community,” and represents a cultural unity on the level of the city-state rather than a globalized underpinning as meant by the word “society.” 8 Strauss (1964), p. 32
Until now, the relationships that form the πόλις have been discussed only on the macroscopic level: the scale of the city as a whole. However, the same archetype of πόλις formation—by its comprising unit(s) (the household) and its organizing structure (the state)— can also be observed on the level of the household itself. The actualization of the household and the πόλις coalesce in the same manner: the individual is to the household as the household is to the πόλις. The household itself is a collection of individuals that form a community and are likewise organized beneath a hierarchy for the sake of survival. Mary Nicholas verifies this point: “The family provides the model for the political community which both reflects and completes it.”9 Therefore, we can see that the household represents the foundational unit of the πόλις in both form and function. A linguistic definition further clarifies this point: the word economics stems from the Greek word οἰκονομία, which is comprised of the words οἰκός, meaning the household, and νόμος, meaning custom or law. Therefore, “economics” or οἰκονομία is the study of household management. This etymology helps to clarify the process of Aristotle’s political inception: even in its linguistic foundation, the structure and principles of the πόλις begin in the household both politically and financially. As Plato uses the structure of the soul to design his Just City—looking to the level the individual to understand a complex whole—Aristotle first examines the design of the household in order to understand the πόλις as the summation of the community and the state. The first section of this chapter is Aristotle’s examination into the household and its relationship to the πόλις in both form and function. The second section is an analysis of the state in order to understand the structure of the πόλις and how it directs the community towards some good, or better yet, the highest good.
Nichols (1992), p. 14
Community: the Household and the Πόλις The first natural relationship described above in Politics 1252a26-31 is the basis on which the household is formed: ἡ μὲν οὖν εἰς πᾶσαν ἡμέραν συνεστηκυῖα κοινωνία κατὰ φύσιν οἶκός ἐστιν (Aristotle, Politics 1252b12-14). “The household is the community constituted by nature for the needs of daily life.”10 From this, Aristotle declares ἡ δ᾽ ἐκ πλειόνων οἰκιῶν κοινωνία πρώτη χρήσεως ἕνεκεν μὴ ἐφημέρου κώμη. μάλιστα δὲ κατὰ φύσιν ἔοικεν ἡ κώμη ἀποικία οἰκίας εἶναι (Aristotle, Politics 1252b15-17). “The first community arising from several households and for the sake of non-daily needs is the village. By nature, the village seems to be above all an extension of the household.”11 The two relationships that are of basic necessity to man are what determine the different communities to which he belongs: the microscopic household community for the sake of reproduction and daily life, and the macroscopic village (πόλις) or political community, for mutual protection and the fulfillment of non-daily needs.12 The “daily needs” of Aristotle are the basic survival tasks of nutrition and reproduction, and all objects or behaviors which facilitate those needs at a basic functional level. The meaning behind the “non-daily” needs is less clear, however. Aristotle illustrates what he means by this later on, in chapter nine of book one, when he discusses trade: ἀρξαμένη τὸ μὲν πρῶτον ἐκ τοῦ κατὰ φύσιν, τῷ τὰ μὲν πλείω τὰ δὲ ἐλάττω τῶν ἱκανῶν ἔχειν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους (Aristotle, Politics 1257a15-17). “It arises in the first place from something that is according to nature—the fact that human beings have either more or fewer things than what is required.”13 In this, Aristotle illustrates a concept in the contemporary study of urban economics: naturally occurring surpluses and deficits given specialization and the subsequent increase of individual marginal productivity. It would be highly inefficient for each household, or individual for that matter, to fulfill all the needs that it may encounter in a given day. Individual specialization 10
Lord (2013), Politics p. 13 Lord (2013), Politics p. 13 12 Nichols (1992), p. 15 “These relationships exist by necessity rather than by choice: the master and slave come together for the sake of survival, the man and the woman for the sake of reproduction (1252a26-31).” 11
The village is an unsophisticated form of the πόλις that Aristotle employs here to demonstrate the growth of his thought in political complexity; similar to Plato when he creates the “City of Pigs” and then discards it as a necessary launching point to reach the “Just City.” While the village is a collection of households, it lacks both the organizational structure of the state, and most importantly, lacks any direction towards the virtue of the community. 13 Lord (2013), Politics p. 15
increases marginal productivity and necessitates a market system, given the natural surpluses and deficits that a members of a household experience through the specialization of tasks. Just as the household can distribute tasks for the sake of productivity and efficiency, so too can the πόλις. Efficient production is for the good of the πόλις because it contributes to the material well being of its citizens and provides an economic foundation for the education system, which will be explored in the next section of this chapter. Interestingly, the economic incentive of increased productivity and the organic quality of communities do not seem to be distinct factors in the formation of Aristotle’s πόλις, but different ways of expressing the same idea.14 This alludes to a broader question set forth by this project: the possibility of squaring the current economic situation with the ancient goal—living in accordance with virtue and wisdom—so that the public good and the private good may coexist in a given political agglomeration. Aristotle understands the nature of productivity, surpluses, and deficits, and establishes the πόλις in both function (community) and form (state) around this imbalance of goods within and between individuals/households. Here, the economic situation is not imposed upon man, but a natural incentive owing to which he comes to form organized communities. The organization provided by a state allows for specialization because it facilitates a market system under which the naturally occurring surpluses and deficits can benefit the whole political community. However, the economics of the Politics will be explored more later; for now, this understanding of productivity defines what Aristotle means by the non-daily needs of the household. This first section examines the first natural relationship that appears to man, and the agglomeration of individuals into communities of ever increasing scope and significance. Thus, the πόλις represents the totality of the strivings of a community, as organized by the state, toward what Aristotle calls “the most authoritative good” of all its people: μάλιστα δὲ καὶ τοῦ κυριωτάτου πάντων ἡ πασῶν κυριωτάτη καὶ πάσας περιέχουσα τὰς ἄλλας (Aristotle, Politics 1252a4-7). “The community that is most authoritative of all and embraces all the others does so particularly, and aims at the most authoritative good of all.”15 The political community is the highest form of community because it embraces the greatest number of individuals, and thus the greatest number of goods, in its striving.16 While the political community represents the 14
Organic here is meant in the sense that, for Aristotle, human communities grow naturally out of a certain necessity Lord (2013), p. 1 16 Strauss (1964), p. 31 “The city (πόλις) is the most comprehensive and the highest society (community) since it aims at the highest and most comprehensive good at which a society (community) can aim. The highest good is happiness. The highest good of the city (πόλις) if the same as the highest good of the individual.” 15
strivings of all people in the πόλις, the household is a type of community as well, and thus has its own authoritative good. However, because the political community unites the goods of all households, it strives toward the most authoritative good because it is the summation of all goods within a πόλις. Therefore, the πόλις is granted primacy of importance over the household, because its good is more authoritative than that of smaller, and less organized, forms of communities. As the πόλις provides for the needs of the households that comprise it, the household provides for the needs of its parts—the individual—and thus the πόλις is an extension of the household as the household is an extension of the individual. W.D. Ross agrees that the πόλις provides better for the comprehensive needs of a community than the village or the lone household: “The state offers a more adequate field than its predecessors [i.e., the family and the village] to moral activity, a more varied set of relations in which the virtues may be exercised. And it gives more scope for intellectual activity.”17 In asserting that man is naturally disposed towards community and not toward himself, Aristotle challenges individualism by declaring the primacy of the household over the individual, and in turn, the πόλις over the household. From this, Aristotle declares that the rule of the πόλις is based in form on the rule of the household—that the hierarchy of the household and that of the πόλις are one in the same, differentiated only by scale. However, Aristotle is clear to demarcate between the functions of household management and rule of the πόλις—the two are not one in the same.18 This is because the needs of a household versus an entire πόλις are different in terms of both scale and diversity of needs. Not every household requires the same type or amount of resources, thus each household contributes to the city what it can, and takes in what resources it requires as a necessity. Thus leadership of the household and the πόλις varies in terms of not only scale but also form of leadership. These themes now coalesce into a definition and goal of the πόλις: an extension of the household that is comprised of the whole political community, and its organization through the 17 18
Ross (1953), p. 238 Aristotle, Politics 1252a7-10, 12-13 & Lord (2013), p. 1 ὅσοι μὲν οὖν οἴονται πολιτικὸν καὶ βασιλικὸν καὶ οἰκονομικὸν καὶ δεσποτικὸν εἶναι τὸν αὐτὸν οὐ καλῶς λέγουσιν. Πλήθει γὰρ καὶ ὀλιγότητι νομίζουσι διαφέρειν ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ εἴδει τούτων ἕκαστον... ὡς οὐδὲν διαφέρουσαν μεγάλην οἰκίαν ἢ μικρὰν πόλιν. “Those who suppose that the same person is expert in political rule, kingly rule, managing the household, and being a master of slaves do not argue finely. For they consider that each of these differs in the number or fewness of those ruled and not in kind...the assumption being that there is no difference between a large household and a small city.”
state, that provides sufficiently and exists for the sake of all its members to live well. The idea of living well constitutes a distinction between ancient and modern political philosophy—living well provides not only for the material security a people, but also the virtuous well-being of a people. In the Republic, Plato explores this idea when discussing the difference between the “City of Necessity” or the “City of Pigs” and the “Just City.” The former provides only for the material needs of its people, but with no attention paid towards the quality of those needs—in this case, the purpose of the πόλις is to provide for food, shelter, and clothing at their most basic definition and functional form. The “Just City” is an expansion upon basic provisions: providing for not only the material well being of its people, but also maintains an eye toward in what truly living well consists. The “City of Necessity” is an untenable one because it does not allow for the excellence of humanity: citizens of this state merely feed and reproduce, with no political structuring towards the actualization of the essential human quality, the intellect. Having outlined the relationship between the household and the πόλις, Aristotle delves deeper into his discussion of the household, and naturally arrives at the issue of slavery. Aristotle must discuss slavery because it is a large component of both the ancient household and society, but at the same time places him in danger of attack by modern readers. Because slavery has been such a major factor in the course of modern Western history, and Aristotle’s discussion of it is not definitive, this section of the Politics has undergone much modern scrutiny. However, I believe that a more subtle interpretation of Aristotle’s slavery, and its implications, will make his idea of slavery, and his πόλις’ structure, all the more understandable and worthwhile. To clarify the method of investigating slavery: chapter four of the Politics poses the issue of slavery and leads directly into chapters five and six which answer for Aristotle’s account of slavery.19 Property as it relates to the duties of the household contains both animate and the inanimate instruments: τῶν δ᾽ ὀργάνων τὰ μὲν ἄψυχα τὰ δὲ ἔμψυχα οἷον τῷ κυβερνήτῃ ὁ μὲν οἴαξ ἄψυχον ὁ δὲ πρῳρεὺς ἔμψυχον: ὁ γὰρ ὑπηρέτης ἐν ὀργάνου εἴδει ταῖς τέχναις ἐστίν... καὶ ὁ δοῦλος κτῆμά τι ἔμψυχον (Aristotle, Politics 1253b27-30, 32). “Now of instruments, some are inanimate and other animate—the pilot’s rudder, for example, is an 19
Much of the secondary scholarship on the Politics analyzes this “natural” slavery in comparison to the slavery discussion found in the Nichomachean Ethics in order to disregard Aristotle’s political philosophy. However, I believe that such an analysis violates an unspoken understanding of political philosophy itself: that there is a necessary distinction between theoretical and practical philosophy. While political philosophy can take a normative view of issues, this normative view is far less severe than that of theoretical philosophy precisely because it must be applicable. See: Strauss (1962) & Winthrop (2008).
inanimate instrument, but his lookout an animate one; for the subordinate is a kind of instrument whatever the art... and the slave is a possession of the animate sort.”20 The language used to describe the slave serves a point: there is a distinction between animate and inanimate parts of the household, something that is inanimate may be owned, but animate things may only be commanded as a subordinate to the will of a superior in as much as that will applies to the instrument’s task. Aristotle’s use of the word subordinate is deliberate: it demonstrates a hierarchy and chain of command, rather than the outright ownership of another person. A modern example of this distinction can be seen in that of the military officer: the military officer does not own his troops, but those troops are subject to his or her will and/or orders as it/they relate(s) to the task of soldiery. This hierarchy exists for the sake of the military unit: to accomplish its objective given certain parameters, which necessitates a hierarchy of command. In chapter five of the Politics, Aristotle elaborates on this point: τὸ γὰρ ἄρχειν καὶ ἄρχεσθαι οὐ μόνον τῶν ἀναγκαίων ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν συμφερόντων ἐστί (Aristotle, Politics 1254a21-22). “Ruling and being ruled belong among not only necessary but also advantageous things.”21 This reveals an idea that is problematic for the modern dedication to individualism and equality: that not everyone can be a leader. Furthermore, this idea stands in direct contrast to what scholars regard as a major portion of the “modern project”: the ability for the individual to set and pursue his or her own goals. However, Aristotle overturns this concept, seeking instead a clearly delineated class structure and hierarchy geared towards efficiency, and thus towards the good of the whole πόλις. Aristotle understands that it is necessary for the good of the whole that only some may rule and the rest must be subordinate to them. This allows for the leisure that a few citizens require in order to pursue virtue through intellectual excellence, which is as valuable to the πόλις as the labor of non-intellectual classes. The issue with these sections of the Politics is the reading of the word “slavery” in a modern context, under which slavery was the outright ownership of another human being. Instead, Aristotle proposes a hierarchy that he claims is natural, given the structure of the household and the skills of those who make up the household—likewise for the political community as a whole; again, the idea of specialization and productivity illuminate what Aristotle is trying to accomplish. Aristotle is opposed to the conventional idea of slavery that arises out of “force,” namely, the sale of prisoners of war into servitude, because it does not form 20 21
Lord (2013), p. 6 Lord (2013), p. 7
a necessarily beneficial relationship.22 Furthermore, Aristotle finds that not all wars are necessarily just, and thus the “legal” captives of those wars may therefore be wrongly enslaved: τήν τε γὰρ ἀρχὴν ἐνδέχεται μὴ δικαίαν εἶναι τῶν πολέμων, καὶ τὸν ἀνάξιον δουλεύειν οὐδαμῶς ἂν φαίη τις δοῦλον εἶναι (Aristotle, Politics 1255a24-26). “For the beginnings of wars are not always just, and no one would assert that someone not meriting enslavement ought to be a slave.”23 Even here, Aristotle sets up the naturalness of slavery, saying that such a state is merited out of one’s abilities, rather than determined by convention. Slavery instead, according to Aristotle, is akin to a hierarchy of those who are better over those who are not as capable: τὸ μὲν γὰρ δυνάμενον τῇ διανοίᾳ προορᾶν ἄρχον φύσει καὶ δεσπόζον φύσει, τὸ δὲ δυνάμενον τῷ σώματι ταῦτα πονεῖν ἀρχόμενον καὶ φύσει δοῦλον: διὸ δεσπότῃ καὶ δούλῳ ταὐτὸ συμφέρει (Aristotle, Politics 1252a31-34). “For that which can foresee with the mind is the naturally ruling and naturally mastering element, while that which can do these things with the body is the naturally ruled and slave; hence the same thing is advantageous for the master and the slave.”24 ὅσοι μὲν οὖν τοσοῦτον διεστᾶσιν ὅσον ψυχὴ σώματος καὶ ἄνθρωπος θηρίου— διάκεινται δὲ τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον ὅσων ἐστὶν ἔργον ἡ τοῦ σώματος χρῆσις, καὶ τοῦτ᾽ ἐστ᾽ ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν βέλτιστον—οὗτοι μέν εἰσι φύσει δοῦλοι (Aristotle, Politics 1254b16-19). Accordingly, those who are as different from other men as the soul from the body or man from beast—and they are in this state if their work is the use of the body, and if this is the best that can come from them—are slaves by nature.”25 In this, Aristotle proposes an authority and hierarchy based not upon force but upon intellect: those who are wise are better suited towards directing the actions of others, than those who are naturally disposed to act; but both pursue their roles for the benefit of each other and the whole.26 22
Aristotle, Politics 1255b12-15 & Lord (2013), p. 11 διὸ καὶ συμφέρον ἐστί τι καὶ φιλία δούλῳ καὶ δεσπότῃ πρὸς ἀλλήλους τοῖς φύσει τούτων ἠξιωμένοις, τοῖς δὲ μὴ τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον, ἀλλὰ κατὰ νόμον καὶ βιασθεῖσι, τοὐναντίον.
“There is thus a certain advantage—and even friendship of slave and master for one another—for those slaves who merit being such by nature; but for those who do not merit it in this way but who are slaves according to convention and by force, the opposite is the case.” 23 Lord (2013), p. 10 24 Lord (2013), p. 2 25 Lord (2013), p. 8 26 Walsh (1997), p. 498 “While the slave depends upon the master in order to know what ought to be done, the free man, the man fitted to be a master, can see for himself what is good; he has the rational capacity of apprehending suitable ends, and choosing the appropriate means to those ends.”
Moira Walsh agrees: “Aristotle’s discussion of the difference between the man who is naturally suited for slavery and the man naturally suited for freedom gives a basis upon which we may build a definition of freedom as a condition of soul, rather than a conventionally granted civil status.”27 Therefore, slavery is not “slavery” in the modern context, but a tacit understanding between leader and follower who both understand their respective responsibilities to themselves, each other, and the πόλις as a whole. Thus, because each understands his role in light of the whole, the individual will submit to the other for the sake of efficiency and progress. Furthermore, Aristotle does not prohibit the ability of any one person to gain the reason necessary to “foresee with the mind,” which furthers the argument that Aristotelian slavery is not conventional but merely a hierarchy instituted rationally for the sake of the whole πόλις— ordered by the extent of one’s virtue. Aristotle accomplishes this by stipulating “if this is the best that can come from them,” leaving open the option for a “natural slave” to be put to better use elsewhere via education. Winthrop affirms that Aristotle’s “slavery” is one determined by virtue, not convention: “a conventional slave is one captured in war. He would surely seem to be unjustly enslaved is conquered by someone who, though stronger, was not also more virtuous.”28 While Aristotelian education will be examined later, secondary scholarship on Aristotle often recognizes the connection between natural slavery and public education, providing public education as a solution for those who suppose natural slavery creates a highly cemented classsociety.29 Here is demonstrated the first half of the “ancient formula:” that the household exists for the sake of the πόλις but is subordinate to the will of the πόλις in order to guarantee the benefit of all households and individuals. Aristotle establishes this by exploring the same construct on the level of the household itself: since the slave and master form an intellectual and working relationship for the good of the household, it follows that if the household is the foundation for the πολίς, the same ruling structure would apply for both, simply on a different scale.
Winthrop (2008), p. 193 “If there are any natural slaves, they are all human beings. They are enslaved because of their partial knowledge and incompetence.” 27 Walsh (1997), p. 496 – 497 “...if the natural slave is the one who does not have reason, but only perceives it, then the naturally free man is the one who not only perceives but also possesses reason.” 28 Winthrop (2008), p. 194 29 Ross (2008) ; Walsh (1997) ; Heath (2008) ; Winthrop (2008)
State: Economics and Education Having dealt with the issue of slavery in the household, Aristotle then turns to the issue of how the πόλις is to engage in commerce. A founding principle of the πόλις is that it provides material sufficiency and at the same time attempts to perfect the character of its citizens through education and virtue, but as has been stated, there are natural surpluses and deficits due to specialization in the city; the same is true among nations. In order to remain materially, and therefore non-materially, sufficient for its citizens, the πόλις must engage in trade both within itself and with other πόλοι. On exchange, Aristotle states: ᾗ καὶ δῆλον ὅτι οὐκ ἔστι φύσει τῆς χρηματιστικῆς ἡ καπηλική: ὅσον γὰρ ἱκανὸν αὐτοῖς, ἀναγκαῖον ἦν ποιεῖσθαι τὴν ἀλλαγήν... ἡ μὲν οὖν τοιαύτη μεταβλητικὴ οὔτε παρὰ φύσιν οὔτε χρηματιστικῆς ἐστιν εἶδος οὐδέν, εἰς ἀναπλήρωσιν γὰρ τῆς κατὰ φύσιν αὐταρκείας ἦν (Aristotle, Politics 1257a17-19, 28-30). “Thus it is also clear that commerce is not by nature part of the art of making money; for it was necessary to make an exchange in order to obtain what they required... This sort of trading is not contrary to nature, nor is any form of money-making, for it existed in order to support natural sufficiency.”30 S. Todd Lowry finds that, “Aristotle uses his theory of barter to explain the basis of village life, specialization, and the mutual benefits of interdependence which draw people together.”31 This view supports the examination of the household and political community above, where the increasing marginal productivity of the individual and comprehensive material welfare of the community are mutually assured benefits of political agglomeration. Although trade is essential to the state’s function, pure exchange (in the sense of goodsfor-goods trade) is not convenient because it requires the transport of whole supplies of goods in order to make the exchange. Therefore, the creation of money becomes essential to continue the πόλις’ vital trade operations so that actual trade may occur, rather than inefficient exchange.32 However, none of this engagement with currency and business is unnatural because its end is the authoritative good of the πόλις; the naturalness of the end renders the means natural, but limited. In contemporary economics, there is a distinction between “commodity money,” which is valuable because of its material rarity, and “fiat money,” which is valuable because a community 30
Lord (2013), p. 15 Lowry (1974), p. 58 32 Henry (1999), p. 612 “Money allows the clumsiness associated with barter to be overridden, reducing the transactions costs associated with exchange.” 31
agrees to its use as a medium of exchange. However, to Aristotle, the distinction would be irrelevant: since all money is created as a medium of exchange, the material form that the money takes is arbitrary. Aristotle is explicit when describing the limitedness versus the limitlessness of currency when it is used by the household or the πόλις, respectively. Ricardo Crespo for one notes the distinction between economics and trade: “Most historians of economic thought correctly translate oikonomike as household management and thus consider that his contribution to economic analysis was unimportant. However, Aristotle held that oikonomike (‘the economic’) refers not only to the household but also to the polis (cf., Politics I, 8, 1256b12-14; I, 10, 1258a19-21; I, 11, 1259a33-36). Oikonomike is the Greek adjective usually used by him to refer to all that is related to the use of wealth in order to achieve the Good Life. Oikonomike is the use (chresasthai) of wealth, while chrematistike is the provision, production, or acquisition of wealth...However, the object of use of oikonomike does not suggest unlimited wealth, but the wealth necessary to live at all (zen) and to live well (eu zen) (cf., Politics I, 4, 1253b24-25). Furthermore, Aristotle also considers chrematistics as human action: a technique that ought to be subordinated to oikonomike.”33 Indeed these distinctions work to construct an economic system that, while not substantially complex, is limited so that its behavior participates directly in the good of the πόλις.34 On commerce then, Aristotle begins: ἔστι γὰρ ἑτέρα ἡ χρηματιστικὴ καὶ ὁ πλοῦτος ὁ κατὰ φύσιν, καὶ αὕτη μὲν οἰκονομική, ἡ δὲ καπηλική, ποιητικὴ πλούτου οὐ πάντως ἀλλὰ διὰ χρημάτων μεταβολῆς. καὶ δοκεῖ περὶ τὸ νόμισμα αὕτη εἶναι: τὸ γὰρ νόμισμα στοιχεῖον καὶ πέρας τῆς ἀλλαγῆς ἐστιν καὶ ἄπειρος δὴ οὗτος ὁ πλοῦτος, ὁ ἀπὸ ταύτης τῆς χρηματιστικῆς (Aristotle, Politics 1257b19-24). “For the getting of goods and the wealth that is according to nature is something different: this is that art of household management, while the other is commerce, which is productive of wealth not in every way but through trafficking in goods, and is held to be connected with money, since money is the medium and goal of exchange. And the wealth deriving from this sort of getting of goods is indeed without limit.”35 33
Crespo (2006), p. 771 Winthrop (2008), p. 195 “In Aristotle’s opinion, nature does require and permit property, but she does not require humans to acquire any possessions for the sake of their economic wellbeing. She may, however, require and permit the pursuit of another kind of wealth in virtually unlimited quantities.” 35 Lord (2013), p. 16 34
As there is no limit to the health of a person, there is no limit to the financial and commercial health of the πόλις.36 To increase the sufficiency of the πόλις without bound equally increases the living-well of the individual; this is natural and acceptable given the defining characteristics of the πόλις and trade itself, and thus there is no limit. Therefore, wealth as it is applied to trade can be amassed without limit but remain in accordance with nature because it participates in the living-well of the whole πόλις. However, when money ceases to be a means and medium of exchange, and instead becomes an end in itself, there is a problem. Wealth that remains within a household simply to enrich the household is not natural: τῆς δ᾽ οἰκονομικῆς χρηματιστικῆς ἔστι πέρας: οὐ γὰρ τοῦτο τῆς οἰκονομικῆς ἔργον... αἴτιον δὲ τὸ σύνεγγυς αὐτῶν. ἐπαλλάττει γὰρ ἡ χρῆσις τοῦ αὐτοῦ οὖσα ἑκατέρας τῆς χρηματιστικῆς. τῆς γὰρ αὐτῆς ἐστι κτήσεως χρῆσις, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ κατὰ ταὐτόν, ἀλλὰ τῆς μὲν ἕτερον τέλος, τῆς δ᾽ ἡ αὔξησις (Aristotle, Politics 1257b30-31, 35-38). “But of household management as distinguished from money-making there is a limit; for that is not the function of household management... The cause of this is the nearness to one another of these [forms of goods-getting]. For they converge in the matter of use, the same thing being used in the case of either sort of goodsgetting. For the same property is being used, though not in the same respect, but in the one case the end is increase, in the other something else.”37 Aristotle illustrates the difficulty in distinguishing between the uses of money for the acquiring of goods for the household versus the πόλις because the material used (currency) remains constant. Thus it would appear that acquiring goods without limit for the household is of the same nature, and thus good, as acquiring goods without limit for the city. However, the acquiring of goods for the whole πόλις is indeed distinct from the acquiring of goods for the household because household management (οἰκονομία) and commerce (trade) each have 36
Aristotle, Politics 1257b25-30 & Lord (2013), p. 16 – 17 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἰατρικὴ τοῦ ὑγιαίνειν εἰς ἄπειρόν ἐστι, καὶ ἑκάστη τῶν τεχνῶν τοῦ τέλους εἰς ἄπειρον (ὅτι μάλιστα γὰρ ἐκεῖνο βούλονται ποιεῖν), τῶν δὲ πρὸς τὸ τέλος οὐκ εἰς ἄπειρον (πέρας γὰρ τὸ τέλος πάσαις), οὕτω καὶ ταύτης τῆς χρηματιστικῆς οὐκ ἔστι τοῦ τέλους πέρας, τέλος δὲ ὁ τοιοῦτος πλοῦτος καὶ χρημάτων κτῆσις.
“For just as the art of medicine has no limit with respect to being healthy, or any of the other arts with respect to its end (for this is what they particularly wish to accomplish), while there is a limit with respect to what exists for the sake of the end (since the end is a limit in the case of all of them), so with this sort of good-getting there is no limit with respect to the end, and the end is wealth of this sort and property in money.” 37 Lord (2013), p. 17
different ends and, therefore, means. This is because the needs of the household and πόλις are different in terms of both the scale and the diversity of needs. Because of this, a household is limited while the entire πόλις is not. Therefore, because this distinction is not self-evident, Aristotle demonstrates the easy corruptibility of acquiring wealth and property on the household: ὥστε δοκεῖ τισι τοῦτ᾽ εἶναι τῆς οἰκονομικῆς ἔργον, καὶ διατελοῦσιν ἢ σῴζειν οἰόμενοι δεῖν ἢ αὔξειν τὴν τοῦ νομίσματος οὐσίαν εἰς ἄπειρον. αἴτιον δὲ ταύτης τῆς διαθέσεως τὸ σπουδάζειν περὶ τὸ ζῆν, ἀλλὰ μὴ τὸ εὖ ζῆν... ὅσοι δὲ καὶ τοῦ εὖ ζῆν ἐπιβάλλονται τὸ πρὸς τὰς ἀπολαύσεις τὰς σωματικὰς ζητοῦσιν, ὥστ᾽ ἐπεὶ καὶ τοῦτ᾽ ἐν τῇ κτήσει φαίνεται ὑπάρχειν, πᾶσα ἡ διατριβὴ περὶ τὸν χρηματισμόν ἐστι, καὶ τὸ ἕτερον εἶδος τῆς χρηματιστικῆς διὰ τοῦτ᾽ ἐλήλυθεν. (Aristotle, Politics 1257b38 – 1258a6). “So some hold that this is the function of household management, and they proceed on the supposition that they should either preserve or increase without limit their holdings of money. The cause of this condition is that they are serious about living but not about living well...even those who also aim at living well seek what conduces to bodily gratifications and since this appears too to be available in and through property, their pursuits are wholly connected with making money, and this is why the other form of the art of getting goods has arisen.”38 Living well does not require one to discard the material pleasures, only to see money for what it is: a medium of exchange and a tool, rather than an end in itself. Those who seek only material gratification are not living well, but simply living. This distinction is significant because the priority of material gratification represents a reversal of political progress back to the Platonic “City of Pigs” where the material was the only concern of the πόλις, without an eye trained toward human virtue and excellence. Aristotle is clear that those who live well virtuously may also live well materially, but are able to do so because they recognize the distinction between the functions of household management and trade. The pursuits of the virtuous are also connected with making money, but only in the “other form of the art of getting goods,” meaning trade. Both may appear on the surface to be the acquiring of goods and wealth, but to the virtuous citizen, it is clear that trade and household management have different ends due to both the scale on which they operate and their original formational impetus, and thus have different means and limits. 38
Lord (2013), p. 17
While this monetary system does enable the creation of a fully fledged market economy, Aristotle’s economic system here dually exists to provide for both the material and non-material well being of the πόλις. Lowry postulates as to why Aristotle’s politically centered economy never blossomed into the complex market economy of Adam Smith: “The highly individualized nature of bargaining and the lack of uniformity in most goods in ancient times would have made it easier to conceive of trade as an accumulation of separate transactions rather than as elements in a comprehensive self-regulating market system. This would explain why Aristotle did not develop a Smithian view of the market despite his naturalistic explanation of human motives.”39 While a fair point, one could add that in addition to the limitations of his time with respect to geopolitics, Aristotle did not develop such a market system because what he did develop was in fact sufficient for its purpose in the πόλις. This topic will be discussed further in chapter four of this project, when comparing the material sufficiency of both Aristotle and John Locke, given that each envisions a different end for his economic system. This final note on the τέλος of the economic system turns the analysis now into the end of the Aristotelian πόλις as a whole: education. Here arises a question concerning monetary limitedness and limitlessness: how can a people come to understand their place in the community, state, and therefore the distinction between what is natural and what is unnatural in terms of seeking wealth? To understand the distinction between household management and trade, Aristotle closes the Politics with the most important function of the city: education, the system by which individuals may come to understand the excellence of themselves, the state, and their respective means and ends. The system that allows individuals to become virtuous by actualizing their inherent propensity for wisdom—the essential human quality. Living in accordance with nature and in balance with the whole πόλις both materially and non-materially summarizes the idea of living well; from the very beginning of the Politics, Aristotle holds this as the reason why political agglomerations occur. Now, Aristotle defines this further: ἐπεὶ δὲ δύ᾽ ἐστὶν ἐν οἷς γίγνεται τὸ εὖ πᾶσι, τούτοιν δ᾽ ἐστὶν ἓν μὲν ἐν τῷ τὸν σκοπὸν κεῖσθαι καὶ τὸ τέλος τῶν πράξεων ὀρθῶς, ἓν δὲ τὰς πρὸς τὸ τέλος φερούσας πράξεις εὑρίσκειν (Aristotle, Politics 1331b26-29). “There are two things that living well 39
Lowry (1974), p. 62
consists in for all: one of these is in correct positioning of the aim and the end of actions; the other discovering the actions that bear on the end.”40 In this, the community must be mindful of the ends towards which they aim and thus take care of how those ends will be achieved when organizing into a state. In order to achieve this, each citizen must be aware of his or her own excellence: τὸ δὲ σπουδαίαν εἶναι τὴν πόλιν οὐκέτι τύχης ἔργον ἀλλ᾽ ἐπιστήμης καὶ προαιρέσεως. ἀλλὰ μὴν σπουδαία γε πόλις ἐστὶ τῷ τοὺς πολίτας τοὺς μετέχοντας τῆς πολιτείας εἶναι σπουδαίους: ἡμῖν δὲ πάντες οἱ πολῖται μετέχουσι τῆς πολιτείας. τοῦτ᾽ ἄρα σκεπτέον, πῶς ἀνὴρ γίνεται σπουδαῖος. καὶ γὰρ εἰ πάντας ἐνδέχεται σπουδαίους εἶναι, μὴ καθ᾽ ἕκαστον δὲ τῶν πολιτῶν, οὕτως αἱρετώτερον: ἀκολουθεῖ γὰρ τῷ καθ᾽ ἕκαστον καὶ τὸ πάντας (Aristotle, Politics 1332a31-38). “But the city’s being excellent is no longer the work of fortune, but of knowledge and intentional choice. But a city is excellent, at any rate, through its citizens’— those taking part in the regime—being excellent. This, then, must be investigated—how a man becomes excellent. Now even if it is possible for all to be excellent but now each of the citizen’s individually, the letter is more choice worthy; for all being excellent follows from all individually being excellent.”41 This excellence, in both productivity of material goods and insurance of the virtuous goods of the community, is achieved through education.42 Leo Strauss states: “the chief concern of the city must be the virtue of its members and hence a liberal education.”43 While the temporal happiness of individuals takes a variety of forms, the highest good, or greatest happiness that a person can achieve, is the same for all people: virtue. Given this, the pursuit of one’s own happiness additionally contains the pursuit of the good for the whole society because it is comprised of individuals who, if liberally educated, know well their place in the πόλις. Indeed, chapter one, book eight of the Politics establishes the public education system as established by the state and provided for by the community. Education is the system by which all citizens of the πόλις come to understand their excellence, and thus their place, in this sufficient community which provides for the living well of all. Knowing well their place, each works individually to ensure the sufficiency and virtue of the whole πόλις. As Strauss, Moira, and Terezis explain, education would enable a πόλις to overcome the distinction between the
Lord (2013), p. 209 Lord (2013), p. 210 42 Shaw (2005), p. 30 43 Strauss (1964), p. 31 41
community and the state by making the good of the individual, the good of the whole.44 Terezis elaborates that education liberates the individual so that he or she may discover the good of both the individual and the whole πόλις for themselves and, recognizing these goods as the same, guarantee the efficient striving of the whole city—which would be impossible if each part were not aware of its role in the greater design of the πόλις.45 A sharp distinction between the people and the government would create a lack of unity and thus lack of incentive for striving together if the people viewed themselves as outside the structure of their own city. The transcendence from a distinct community and state to a unified πόλις is achieved through the education of the people, by which the whole πόλις is liberated to pursue the most authoritative goods of the community, both material and non-material. Therefore, the education system holds primacy over the economic system because it cares for the highest intellectual goods of the city, in addition to facilitating the good striving of the community. In book one, chapter thirteen of the Politics, Aristotle declares: φανερὸν τοίνυν ὅτι πλείων ἡ σπουδὴ τῆς οἰκονομίας περὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἢ περὶ τὴν τῶν ἀψύχων κτῆσιν, καὶ περὶ τὴν ἀρετὴν τούτων ἢ περὶ τὴν τῆς κτήσεως, ὃν καλοῦμεν πλοῦτον (Aristotle, Politics 1259b18-21), “It is evident, then, that household management gives more serious attention to human beings than to inanimate property, to the virtue of these rather than to that of property (which we call wealth)...”46 Given that the πόλις takes its bearings from the household, it follows that the πόλις would dedicate more attention to the non-material goods of the community, understanding that non-material sufficiency is more essential to the living well that the πόλις is designed to ensure, rather than mere material satisfaction void of higher human potentiality. In an final note on the Aristotelian public education system, Walsh claims that Aristotelian education in fact abolishes the naturally slavery outlined in the last section of this chapter: “Aristotle’s free man not only does what he desires, but he desires what is truly good. The free man directs himself towards the telos which he has discovered through the use of his reason and deliberative capacity.”47 Such a view seems to imitate that of Strauss, and conveniently eliminates the idea of slavery, physically and intellectually, entirely from Aristotle’s πόλις, by educating everyone to their proper τέλος, while maintaining the stratified labor structure so necessary for the city to perform its highest function. If everyone is educated 44
Strauss (1964) p. 32 ; Walsh (1997), p. 503 ; Terezis (2005) Terezis (2005), p. 202 46 Lord (2013), p. 21 47 Walsh (1997), p. 502 45
to find their τέλος within the πόλις, then they are not in fact slaves but truly functional citizens of the city. While it may seem that Aristotle calls for a pure democracy when discussing the excellence of the whole πόλις, such is not the case. Instead, given the fact that the state allows for specialization of tasks in terms of production, so too does it provide for specialization in leadership. Aristotle calls for the excellence of all citizens at their specific task in the state: farmers farm well, wood workers work wood well, and rulers rule well. As is understood from his Metaphysics, Aristotle recognizes that only a few will ever have the leisure to pursue a truly liberal education that benefits the whole state.48 Thus the education of the community and its importance in the organization of the πόλις establishes the means by which rulers will become excellent at their task. There must be, according to Aristotle, a distinction between the necessary and the noble in order for the educational system to comprehensively benefit the πόλις; this idea comes to fruition in Politics IV.4, having established economic specialization through the Aristotelian notion of natural slavery.49 The discussions of slavery, the household and the πόλις, and the economic and educational systems, all parallel the same distinction between the necessary and the noble through Aristotle’s political thought. διόπερ ἐν τῇ Πολιτείᾳ κομψῶς τοῦτο, οὐχ ἱκανῶς δὲ εἴρηται. φησὶ γὰρ ὁ Σωκράτης ἐκ τεττάρων τῶν ἀναγκαιοτάτων πόλιν συγκεῖσθαι, λέγει δὲ τούτους ὑφάντην καὶ γεωργὸν καὶ σκυτοτόμον καὶ οἰκοδόμον: πάλιν δὲ προστίθησιν, ὡς οὐκ αὐτάρκων τούτων, χαλκέα καὶ τοὺς ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀναγκαίοις βοσκήμασιν, ἔτι δ᾽ ἔμπορόν τε καὶ κάπηλον: καὶ ταῦτα πάντα γίνεται πλήρωμα τῆς πρώτης πόλεως, ὡς τῶν ἀναγκαίων τε χάριν πᾶσαν πόλιν συνεστηκυῖαν, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ τοῦ καλοῦ μᾶλλον, ἴσον τε δεομένην σκυτέων τε καὶ γεωργῶν (Aristotle, Politics 1291a10-19). “Hence what is said in the Republic, though sophisticated, is not adequate. For Socrates asserts that a city is composed of the four most necessary persons, and he 48 49
Aristotle, Metaphysics (981b14-32) Aristotle, Politics (1254a21-28) & Lord (2013), p. 7 τὸ γὰρ ἄρχειν καὶ ἄρχεσθαι οὐ μόνον τῶν ἀναγκαίων ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν συμφερόντων ἐστί, καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκ γενετῆς ἔνια διέστηκε τὰ μὲν ἐπὶ τὸ ἄρχεσθαι τὰ δ᾽ ἐπὶ τὸ ἄρχειν. καὶ εἴδη πολλὰ καὶ ἀρχόντων καὶ ἀρχομένων ἔστιν—καὶ ἀεὶ βελτίων ἡ ἀρχὴ ἡ τῶν βελτιόνων ἀρχομένων, οἷον ἀνθρώπου ἢ θηρίου—τὸ γὰρ ἀποτελούμενον ὑπὸ τῶν βελτιόνων βέλτιον ἔργον: ὅπου δὲ τὸ μὲν ἄρχει τὸ δ᾽ ἄρχεται, ἔστι τι τούτων ἔργον. “Ruling and being ruled belong among not only the necessary but also advantageous things. And immediately from birth certain things diverge, some toward being ruled, others toward ruling. There are many kinds of things both ruling and ruled, and the rule is always better over ruled things that are better, for example over a human being rather than a beast; for the work performed by the better is better, and wherever something rules and something is ruled there is a certain work belonging to these together.”
says these are a weaver, a farmer, a shoemaker, and a builder; and then, on the grounds that these are not self-sufficient, he adds a smith and persons in charge of the necessary herds, and further both a trader and one engaged in commerce. All of these make up the complement of the first city, as it every city were constituted for the sake of the necessary things and not rather for the sake of what is noble, and as if it were equally in need of shoemakers and farmers.”50 Aristotle is in favor of a stratified labor system because it liberates individuals to perform a specific task for the good of the whole, rather than have each individual perform every task that is necessary for life. Given the use of money as a means to an end and not an end itself, Aristotle’s hierarchy is based not on wealth but upon virtue. Again, those who have wisdom are better able to lead than those without; therefore, as tasks are divided among the members of the city, a select few will be liberated to pursue an education indefinitely, to acquire wisdom for the good of the whole city.51 It follows that not everyone can have this indefinite amount of leisure because it would stagnate the city as a whole. Therefore, those liberated by the sharing of tasks in the community in order to pursue an education are best equipped to lead the state and shape the community through the education of the youth. Furthermore, money does not enable the σχόλη required for education, but the specialization of individual tasks facilitated by the state and the surpluses of labor that arise therein. While citizens produce a surplus of material goods, the absence of leisure does not allow them to pursue non-material sufficiency. Thus those who are liberated to pursue education through those surpluses provide productive citizens with access to the non-material goods that they cannot produce themselves. Thus, the leadership of the πόλις is not a commercial oligarchy, but an intellectual aristocracy: a small class of individuals whose excellence is their wisdom, and thus leadership. Additionally, this class is not at leisure for the sake of leisure itself, but at leisure so that it may have the education to benefit the πόλις as a whole as the wise heads of the state. Julia Shaw confirms the value of education for the whole πόλις as something that transcends from the theoretical to the practical: “This analysis might seem to taint the theoretic life with the very utility it is supposed to lack. The theoretic life, precisely because it is for its own sake, saves the city from despotism by siphoning off tyrannical urges that might be breeding in the community. As a manifestation of the truth that the practical, political life, if not highest, philosophy makes itself useful. Without planning, orchestrating, or otherwise getting involved in the life of the city, the theoretic life sustains the city... The theoretic life is of ultimate value to the social life of the city: far from 50 51
Lord (2013), p. 103 – 104 Aristotle, Politics 1252a31-34 & Walsh (1997)
inhibiting the activity of humans qua political beings, it guards and guarantees the very possibility of such flourishing.”52 Shaw demonstrates this value of education for the πόλις by interpreting education as a liberating force: opening the minds of individuals to both moral and intellectual growth, so that the mind may discover for itself the “proper aim and goal of life.”53 Each part of the πόλις is liberated to perform its unique task efficiently for the sake of the whole city through the sharing of labors even among those who rule, this much has been made clear. Education is essential to this system because it shapes the citizens of a πόλις to know their place in the πόλις well, ruling and being ruled in turn.54 Aristotle outlines at the very start of the Politics that mastery of slaves, household management, political rule, and kingship are not one of in the same; this is because these types of rule differ in quantity and quality of leadership. Thus education prepares all members of the city to rule and be ruled in turn, allowing for the cooperative labors of the πόλις to benefit all, even the leaders who are members of the community and not of a third-party governing body. Discussing the economic and educational systems of the πόλις reveals the second half of the ancient formula: economics is a system by which the πόλις guarantees its materially sufficiency. The economic system additionally provides the leisure necessary for the education of its people, especially the liberation of a select few to pursue wisdom indefinitely and become capable leaders. This leisure is provided by the structure of the state, which organizes the specialization of individual tasks. To summarize: as the household is to the πόλις, so too is the economic system to the educational system. The former provides the foundation for the latter to exist and perform its task, but the latter holds primacy over the former because it leads towards the comprehensive good of the πόλις. In the second case, economics secures the living well of all citizens through material sufficiency, which thus provides the leisure (through specialization) for education as to each person’s role in the πόλις. The idea of primacy that has been discussed throughout this analysis comes from Aristotle’s idea that a hand is not capable of performing its task without a body; thus while a body is only the sum of its parts, the good of the whole guarantees the good of the individual and thus the whole has primacy of importance over the parts.55 52
Shaw (2005), p. 35 Shaw (2005), p. 31 54 Aristotle, Politics 1254a21-22 55 Aristotle, Politics 1253a20-29 53
Analytic Synthesis: Aristotle Here now the two halves of this analysis come together: the first half is the formation of the community which is the agglomeration of individual units to strive, and the second half is the state by which people are organized to strive well for the sake of the πόλις as a whole. The formula of Aristotle’s πόλις is therefore: household : πόλις :: economics : education. The household and the economic system are the foundational units of the πόλις and the educational system, respectively. The πόλις and the educational system hold primacy over their respective comprising units (the household and economic system) because they represent the striving towards most authoritative of all people, not just the individual. Therefore, the household and the πόλις are the community: the collection of individuals and households who strive and make up the whole population of the πόλις. Likewise, the economic and educational systems are the state: the systems by which the community is organized into a πόλις through proper education and provided for sufficiently for by the strivings of the households through the economic system.
Chapter Two – John Locke: The Two Treatises of Government John Locke, an English philosopher who stands as a pillar of early modern philosophy and political thought, published the Two Treatises of Government anonymously in 1698. The first essay of the work is entitled The False Principles and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown, in which Locke attacks the Patriarcha of Sir Robert Filmer. John F. Henry summarizes the context of the First Treatise: “It must be remembered that Locke was a political economist (or social theorist)... As Ashcraft  makes very clear, Locke’s writings and activities are firmly enmeshed in the anti-feudal character of the English Civil War and its aftermath. The Two Treatises of Government was directed against George Filmer’s Patriarcha, which attempted to provide a defense of absolute monarchy in general and of Charles I and Charles II in particular.”56 The second essay of the work is entitled An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government. Robert Goldwin comments, “Book II of the Two Treatises (usually called the Second Treatise or Of Civil Government, and often published and read as if a separate work) begins with a brief summary of the argument of that First Treatise; having refuted the principle of divine right, which many then considered to be the foundation of princely power, Locke acknowledged his responsibility to explain what he considered to be the true foundation of government.”57 In this essay, Locke coopts theological principles to justify the freedom and equality of humanity, as opposed to Filmer’s interpretation that justifies the inequality and subjugation of humanity beneath human rulers. Goldwin summarizes Locke’s position: “All government is limited in its powers and exists only by the consent of the governed. And the ground Locke builds on is this: All men are born free.”58 Here, two important notes on context must be made. First, as Henry tells us, Locke was responding to a firmly established political theology and certain historical structures and events that the theological political enabled, including absolute monarchism. Second, as with Descartes, Locke wrote in a time when religious power dominated Europe. Thus, Locke was similarly bound to write with a degree of subtlety in order that he did not overtly overturn Christian theology, but reinterpret those principles to justify his non-monarchical political 56
Henry (1999), p. 613 Goldwin in Strauss & Cropsey (1987), p. 476 – 477 58 Goldwin in Strauss & Cropsey (1987), p. 476 57
system. Because of this, the Two Treatises are filled with both direct and prudential uses of religious principles as a means of reinterpreting Filmer’s theological principles in favor of a natural, rather than what may be conceived of as a divine origin of government. Nonetheless, God does play a role in the establishment and application of Locke’s political philosophy. According to Henry: “Initially, Locke proposes that the state of nature within which people interact as part of a God-created system in which certain moral rules are to be enforced as in which an individual’s relationship to God is established [see Tully 1980, 40-2, 589]. Whether one takes Locke’s God as a metaphor or at face value is not important in this regard.”59 In what follows, I will hold constant that the role God plays for Locke combines both possibilities: a metaphorical equal to the State of Nature that Locke establishes, thus securing his theological foundations without taking away from the metaphysical implications of the State of Nature. Ince summarizes the perspective nicely: “While acknowledging the complexity of this relationship and the unorthodoxy of Locke’s biblical interpretation, this essay deploys his notion of natural law as a universally valid and eternal framework of moral standards with ultimately theological underpinnings, which are normatively binding on human activity. Hence, the extent to which Locke actually derives the natural law from divine law or posits it as a self-standing edifice is less important for the purposes of this discussion.”60 In the following analysis, the non-theological bases for Locke’s political philosophy takes greater precedence than Locke’s actual theology, and thus where the State of Nature and God appear, we can take them as equal justifications for the equality and liberty of mankind metaphysically established by this state. Locke was a major influence on many subsequent philosophical traditions and has farreaching political influences, including social contract theory, modern political philosophy, epistemology, and was even a notable influence on the writing of the United States Declaration of Independence. Gordon Schochet believes that, “Locke, not Hobbes, was the hard-headed realist more in tune with the social and politics activities of the time and place. In view of the fact that Britain in a century and half was to raise the standard for the rest of the world to follow by 59 60
Henry (1999), p. 614 Ince (2011), p. 34
becoming the first industrial capitalist state, a development to which Locke contributed in not an insignificant way, he rather than Hobbes might possibly be labeled the first modern political thinker.”61 Jennifer Welchman confirms not only Locke’s lasting political and philosophical impact on the West, but also his active political life, evaluating slavery and inalienable rights as they appear in the Two Treatises in the context of Locke’s major contributions to British slave trade dominance in the 17th Century.62 Locke’s actual political involvements aside, the analysis of Locke will now move systematically through his chapters on the States of Nature and War, slavery, property, and political societies (the beginnings and ends of). While Locke’s section on paternal power is important for understanding the nature of authority under a civil government, such is not under debate here; the analogous section on this subject found in Aristotle was similarly passed over. Rather, this project will instead focus on these chapters, evaluating Locke’s ideas of man, property, and the state of their origin in order to weigh their contemporary political philosophical benefit. Furthermore, this chapter will analyze the Second Treatise using the same schematic employed in the Aristotle chapter in order to provide a uniformity of process for the sake of easy comparison.
Schochet (2000), p. 365 Welchman (1995)
Community: the State of Nature and Civil Society Having debunked the political theology of Sir Robert Filmer in the First Treatise, Locke begins the Second Treatise with an alternative inception of political power: “To understand Political Power right, and derive it from its Original, we must consider what State all Men are naturally in, and that is, a State of perfect Freedom to order their Actions, and dispose of their Possessions, and Persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the Will of any other Man. A State also of Equality, wherein all the Power and Jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another: there being nothing more evident, than that Creatures of the same species and rank promiscuously born to all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal amongst another without Subordination or Subjection...”63 The State of Nature is the mode of existence into which all humanity is born, a state of total equality that gives rise to the freedom of the individual to act in accordance with a certain reason, the Law of Nature, without subjection to the will of another human. Yet, this idea has fallen under much debate in contemporary academia, questioning not only how Locke conceives of this state in reality, but also its value. Barry Hindess illustrates the one evaluation of the State of Nature, as first expressed by Richard Ashcraft: “Locke’s state of nature should be seen as a fiction. It is a logical construct which sets out the logical and moral condition of human existence and thus serves as a critique of existing society.”64 Indeed, an initial reading of these sections may lead some readers to the conclusion that the State of Nature is a type of precivilization construct and fiction, similar to the Garden of Eden; the next logical question is, therefore, how is such a fictional construct helpful to establishing the authority of actual governments? However, such a view does not reveal the depth of Locke’s political inception and thus Hindess provides his own expansion upon Ashcraft’s view: “it [the State of Nature] served as a means to both undermine the view that humans were born into a natural condition of subjection to the rule of others and to justify European expropriation of the land in the Americas. It also represented one end of a developmental continuum, running from the original, most primitive, condition of humanity through to the societies of contemporary Western Europe, which was thought to encompass all sections of humanity.”65 63
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.XXX.xxx), p. 269 Hindess (2007), p. 3 65 Hindess (2007), p. 4 64
The idea that Locke’s State of Nature provided a justification for the European colonization of the Americas is a conversation for another project. What is important here is that Locke’s origins for political power in the State of Nature represents a major philosophical shift and, as Hindess elaborates, accomplishes two major feats in the Second Treatise: the State of Nature provides alternative and revolutionary views on the origins of government, equality, and freedom, and sets up the property analysis so central to Locke’s political philosophy.66 According to Hindess’ view, the State of Nature represents the summation of all “stratified” political societies prior to the Two Treatises into a single category so that it may be swept away by delivering political philosophy and politics itself into a “liberal” notion of society.67 This view allows for the formation of civil societies within the State of Nature—because the conception of it as pre-civilization leads to historical inconsistency—and establishes Locke’s own views on the origins of civil society. Hindess confirms again the duality of Locke’s State of Nature: “there are, in fact, two states of nature at work in Locke’s analysis...; one historical and the other purely hypothetical. Both are necessary for his overall argument.”68 The idea that such a state has always existed theoretically, gives rise to Locke’s purpose in the remainder of his project: making this theoretical ideal, a historical reality. Meaning, Locke must now establish a political agglomeration that takes this theoretical ideal, the comprehensive equality of mankind, and expresses it in an historical medium—more specifically, a present reality. Because such an egalitarian view of mankind had not yet been explored, Locke is now himself liberated to perform a comprehensive overhaul of political organization in light of the State of Nature. With the above ideas in mind, Locke then immediately proceeds to outline the State of Nature, all the while laying the foundation from which, he believes, political society should draw authority. “But though this be a State of Liberty, yet it is not a State of Licence, though Me in that State have an uncontroleable Liberty, to dispose of his Person or Possessions, yet he has not Liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any Creature in his Possession, but where some nobler use, than its bare Preservation calls for it.”69 While mankind is born into this
Hindess (2007), p. 5 Hindess (2007), p. 6 “The long development of government and private property leading up to the establishment of liberal regimes is not a pre-condition of civil society, but something that may well take place within it.” 68 Hindess (2007), p. 13 69 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.6.1-5), p. 270 – 271 67
state of liberty, it does not in fact liberate absolutely, but bars the abuse and destruction of the person themselves, their property, or, most importantly, other people. Interestingly, Locke’s conception of the State of Nature, which in turn establishes the power of civil government, seems to imitate Aristotle’s metaphysical approach in its creation of equality. According to Locke, we are all equal in the State of Nature because we are all, in fact, the property of God: “All the Servants of one Sovereign master, sent into the World by his order and about his business, they are his Property, whose Workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s Pleasure.”70 While Lockean property will be discussed later, this view provides the foundation for mortal property: that property is made one’s own through the labor of the person on the gifts of the Earth.71 Here, Locke establishes the equality of the State of Nature, and thus equality of man under civil society, by subjecting all mankind below an immortal being; this as opposed to Filmer who subjects society beneath a monarch, who alone is elevated by the immortal being. What now becomes of issue is this: if, in Locke’s view, such a state of equality has always existed among mankind, why has a civil society not already adopted the Law of Nature in order to become a truly liberal civil society? The failure until now, Locke would say, is that mankind has lived without the proper reason to understand the Law of Nature. Reason is how mankind comes to understand this state of equality and freedom: “The State of Nature has a Law of Nature to govern it, which obliges everyone: And Reason, which is that Law, teaches all Mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another...”72 Indeed, Locke believes that the State of Nature and its Law are easily discoverable if man would only consult his reason. This reason also instructs those would use it when others ignore reason: where one person or group, infringing upon the life, liberty, and property of another individual or group, violates the Law of Nature. As the extent of human action is rationed, so to is the response when such an action violates reason: “For the Law of Nature would, as all other Laws that concern Men in this World, be in vain, if there were no body that in the State of Nature, had a Power to Execute the Law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders, and if 70
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.6.11-14), p. 271 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.27.4-13), p. 288 72 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.6.6-9), p. 271 71
any one in the State of Nature may punish another, for an evil he has done, everyone may do so... And thus in the State of Nature, one Man comes by a Power over another; but yet no Absolute or Arbitrary Power, to use a Criminal when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate hearts, or boundless extravagancy of his own Will, but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and conscience dictates, what is proportionate to his Transgression, which is so much as may serve for Reparation and Restraint.”73 Reason, which reveals the Law of Nature to mankind, is also responsible for its maintenance should violations of it occur. This balance is essential to prevent such a state of equality from erupting into chaos through ever increasing degrees of retribution should one “unreasonable” individual choose to violate it; the justice must be in accordance with the offence, so that order is maintained. In a broader conceptualization of his own work, Locke seems to believe that mankind, having employed their reason hitherto unconsulted, may now understand the State of Nature in order to establish a liberal civil society that will achieve the pinnacle of human existence; establishing a society that embraces the equality and freedom of the individual that will in turn allow all mankind to share in the fruits of the earth.74 While an optimistic view, Locke does in fact recognize that even after reading the Second Treatise, reason will, to some extent, remain either unconsulted or ignored. Therefore, the State of Nature can never exist perfectly—perfect here meant literally as “complete” or “whole.” It is when mankind, either as an individual or as a group, disobeys the Law of Nature and threatens the state of equality and freedom, by infringing upon the life, liberty, and property of others, that a State of War commences. Such an occurrence is inevitable in Locke’s conception of humanity, given the natural failure for mankind to consult his reason. “And hence it is, that he who attempts to get another Man into his Absolute Power, does thereby put himself into a State of War with him; It being understood as a Declaration of a Design upon his [the one threatened] life...To be free from such force is the only security of my Preservation: and reason bids me look on him, as an Enemy to my Preservation.”75
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.7.6-15 & 8.1-7), p. 271 – 272 Such a view, according to Hindess (1999) and Welchman (1995), has always existed in the State of Nature naturally, but has not been realized because of man’s refusal of or inability to consult, the Law of Nature. 75 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.17.1-11), p. 279 74
While reason does limit the extent of Punishment, Locke again recognizes that men will not always be reasonable. If there are those, being without reason, who would break the Law of Nature and enter into a State of War to begin with, what then stops the transgressed from persecuting the transgressor beyond the limits of reason and the Law of Nature? Locke recognizes this when discussing the State of War and thus excavates the first foundation for civil government: the desire for a common judge to ensure justice, rather than the natural inclination to pursue limitless and endless vendetta. Locke demonstrates this cycle between the States of Nature and War that exists without civil society to act as common judge and authority of justice: “But when the actual force is over, the State of War ceases between those who are in Society, and are equally on both sides Subjected to the fair determination of the Law; because then there lies open the remedy of appeal for the past injury, and to prevent future harm: but where no such appeal is, as in the State of Nature... the State of War once began, continues, with a right to the innocent Party, to destroy the other whenever he can, until the aggressor offers Peace.”76 While the State of Nature represents the state in which there is equality, providing a novel conception of humanity, there is in fact the potential for chaos, given man’s inclination to disregard his reason. Thus, when reason is disobeyed, the State of War begins and does not cease until there is either surrender or death on the side of the transgressor. While a reasonable person is endowed by Nature with the right to pursue vengeance, the individual transgressed upon cannot be entrusted with this right because they may also disregard reason, just as the transgressor did when they harmed this individual. Because of this imperfection by which individuals can disregard their reason, humanity requires an objective judge who may maintain the State of Nature, one that lacks the personal motive to take more severe than is allowed vengeance upon a wrongdoer. “To avoid this State of War (wherein there is no appeal but to Heaven, ... where there is no Authority to decide between Contenders) is one great reason of Mens putting themselves into Society, and quitting the State of Nature. For where there is an Authority, a Power on Earth, from which relief can be had by appeal, there the continuance of the State of War is excluded, and the Controversie is decided by that Power.”77 At this point, Locke’s foundation for political power is clear: that men are incapable of judging on their own behalf and require a third party to adjudicate on their behalf concerning 76 77
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.20.1-9), p. 281 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.21.1-8), p. 282
conflicts that inevitably arise in the State of Nature. The source of these inevitable conflicts is the freedom and inequality of individuals in the State of Nature: according to Locke, and contrary to Aristotle, nature dissociates human beings because all human beings are free and equal. Having established the natural state of humanity as one of perfect equality, Locke now flushes out his idea of freedom both in the State of Nature and under civil government. Of Slavery represents the next logical step in Locke’s analysis because property (a person’s life, liberty, and actual property) is the main reason why men would violate the Law of Nature: unreasonable men will violate the Law of Nature either to have dominion over others so that they may increase their own wealth, or to hinder the prosperity of others so that their own prosperity may flourish to a greater extent. Liberty under the state of nature, therefore, is such: “The Natural Liberty of Man is to be free from any Superior Power on Earth, and not to be under the Will or Legislative Authority of Man, but to have only the Law of Nature for his Rule.”78 This summarizes the freedom of man under the State of Nature given Locke’s optimistic view of mankind’s reason—the ability to understand the Law of Nature. This natural view of liberty then gives rise to liberty under a civil government. Since Locke has previously recognized that in the State of Nature man is left wanting for an earthly judge to enforce the Law of Nature, it follows that by consent alone, mankind may enter into commonwealth so that the State of Nature is maintained continuously; “The Liberty of Man, in Society, is to be under no other Legislative Power, but that established, by consent, in the Common-wealth.”79 The consent of people who employ their reason to understand the Law of Nature is how mankind may enter into commonwealth and preserve the State of Nature. As Locke continues, freedom under government provides a common rule to live by, one in accordance with the Law of Nature, so that the liberty and equality of the individual is maintained, thus maintaining the State of Nature.80 While actual slavery does not become an issue until Of Political or Civil Society, it remains germane to this section of the Second Treatise and thus will be evaluated now, and recalled in the very next discussion. As with Aristotle’s discussion of slavery, Locke’s chapter on slavery also leads to the debate over whether his writings represent a metaphysical ideal or justify the actual ownership of another human being. Given that the discussion of slavery occurs 78
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.22.1-4), p. 283 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.22.4-6), p. 283 80 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.22.10-16), p. 284 79
before the founding of political society, it seems that Locke’s slavery argument creates a situation that, like the State of Nature itself, provides for the organic foundation of political society in order to solve the issue of reciprocal vendetta explored above in the State of War examination. Locke holds that slavery, which arises out of unprovoked force, is wrong because it violates the natural equality and freedom of the State of Nature, where: “For Men, being all the Workmanship of one Omnipotent, and infinitely wise Maker; All the Servants of one Sovereign Master, send into the World by his order and about his business, they are his Property, whose Workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s Pleasure.”81 This argument seems to agree with Delba Winthrop’s understanding of Aristotelian slavery: that it is a theoretical one rather than a practical one. Furthermore, Locke is more direct in Of Slavery where he states that: “For a Man, not having the Power of his own Life, cannot, by Compact, or his own Consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the Absolute, Arbitrary Power of another, to take away his Life, when he pleases.”82 It seems clear, then, that actual enslavement is wrong because it violates the fundamental equality and liberty set forth in the State of Nature. However, Locke does qualify this, demonstrating that slavery is allowable when someone violates the Law of Nature outside of political society. Locke himself states: “Indeed having, by his own fault, forfeited his own Life, by some Act that deserves Death; he, to whom he has forfeited it, may delay to take it, and make use of him to his own Service, and he does no injury by him.”83 Jennifer Welchman confirms this qualification, finding that slavery is only acceptable when someone has violated the State of Nature to the extent that he or she deserves death, but may instead live under the dominion of the person they have wronged—because, in effect, the wrongdoer may as well be dead, having violated the Law of Nature and the natural peace found in the State of Nature. Indeed, “Locke attempted to legitimize slavery by portraying it as a form of punishment for crimes committed where no central political authority or justice system exists.”84 Thus, for Locke, slavery is one method of eliminating the problem of indefinite retribution in the State of Nature, by placing the initial wrongdoer under the mastery of the wronged, because the wrongdoer has forfeited their right to participate in the reason that so easily illuminates the Law of Nature—which provides for comprehensive equality. Those who 81
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.6.10-14), p. 271 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.23.4-7), p. 284 83 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.23.9-13), p. 284 84 Welchman (1995), p. 67 82
are not reasonable enough to share in this state of freedom and equality, according to Locke, may as well not have that right at all and thus surrender it via action that violates the Law of Nature. While this argument for slavery has greater political and economic implications given Locke’s various political position throughout his life, such is not under debate here.85 What matters is that, given the State of Nature and its natural compact, this argument for slavery holds. Now that Locke has firmly established the liberty and equality of mankind, discussing the State of Nature and the idea of slavery, the “household”—as outlined in Aristotle—may now come to fruition. Given that mankind is all free and equal, the question of organization and survival now arises, given the natural precepts concerning mankind. These precepts provide a basis for Locke’s remarks on civil society in order to conclude the “community” analysis of Locke’s political schematic; on the basis of his account of civil society the next section will return to property and examine the end(s) of civil government when evaluating the economic and non-material situation of the Second Treatise. Similar to Aristotle, Locke finds that there is a necessity and convenience to political organization: “God having made Man such a Creature, that, in his own Judgment, it was not good for him to be alone, put him under strong Obligations of Necessity, Convenience, and Inclination to drive him into Society, as well as fitted him with Understanding and Language to continue and enjoy it.”86 In the State of Nature, Locke agrees that man is a communal animal and thus forms social groups of ever expanding complexity; however, those groups are not necessarily the liberal social groups that Locke is trying to construct in the Second Treatise. Yet, the foundation of a truly liberal society, given the lengthy discussion of the State of Nature above, is now complete with the construction of the household as the basis of political society. As a side note, the application of economic principles to the household shall not occur here as it did in Aristotle, but will instead take place in the next section of this chapter, where economic—rather than-interpersonal— relationships are of greater concern to both Locke and the scholarship surrounding his Second Treatise. 85
See Welchman (1995), p. 71 – 79 Welchman posits that Locke’s idea of slavery works to justify three things: the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror, the enslavement of Africans (because they lived in a state not in accordance with nature and thus forfeited their right to freedom), and the colonization of the Americas by European powers. 86 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.77.1-5), p. 318
“The first Society was between Man and Wife, which gave beginning to that between Parents and Children; to which, in time, that between Master and Servant came to be added: And though all these might, and commonly did meet together, and make up but one Family, wherein the Master or Mistress of it had some sort of Rule proper to a Family; each of these, or all together came short of Political Society.”87 While not forming a complete society outright, Locke seems to be in agreement here with Aristotle when he declares the household to be of a different kind of society than that of the political stripe. Locke then goes on to discuss the nature of familial power, limiting it in the same manner as the State of Nature limits all men.88 However, in order to fulfill its primary function, as explored in the next section, political society requires these household masters to surrender their dominion over house and home so that the State of Nature may be maintained throughout society, rather than allow each household to function as its own society. “Where-ever therefore any number of Men are so united into one Society, as to quit every one of his Executive Power of the Law of Nature, and to resign it to the publick, there and there only is a Political, or Civil Society... and thus puts Men out of a State of Nature into that of a Commonwealth, by setting up a Judge of Earth, with Authority to determine all the Controversies, and redress the Injuries, that may happen to any Member of the Commonwealth.”89 Thus Locke has established the form of the community: an agglomeration of households within a society, one that guarantees the protection and well being of each individual household. While the household may surrender certain powers to the society, each household does this in order to establish a common order, which shall in turn protect each household. Therefore, while households do comprise the πόλις, Locke’s idea of political society exists primarily for the sake of the households themselves, holding the benefit of other households as a secondary benefit of this communal legal compact. At this point, Locke has established the following claims. First, he has established a natural valuation of humanity based upon equality and liberty via the State of Nature. Second, 87
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.77.5-11), p. 319 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.86.1-21), p. 323 “Let us therefore consider a Master of a Family with all these subordinate relations of Wife, Children, Servants, and Slaves united under the Domestic Rule of a Family...when ‘tis plain, by what has been said before, That the Master of the Family has a very distinct and differently limited Power, both as to time and extent...But how a Family, or any other Society of Men, differ from that, which is properly Political Society, we shall best see, by considering wherein Political Society it self consists.” 89 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.89.1-15), p. 325 88
he has accounted for the cyclical injustice that will occur in that state, given men’s inclination to disregard their reason and thus provided a valid reason for civil government. Third, he has accounted for liberty outright, addressing slavery and justifying a certain type of slavery under his metaphysical suppositions. Finally, he has outlined the origins of civil society and its function: the household as the first type of community, and the protection of the household under civil government. This analysis will now turn to understanding the “state” established by Locke’s Second Treatise, exploring his chapters on property, and the beginning and ends of civil society itself. Following this, the schematic will be summarized and outlined, providing this project with a tool of comparison so that Aristotle and Locke may be evaluated against each other.
State: Economics and Education Of Property has undergone much debate in Lockean scholarship, and has had a lasting impact on contemporary views of civil agglomeration and economic perspectives. Charles Tarlton provides one overarching view of this chapter in the Second Treatise, citing its complexity—its repetitive affirmations and denials—as the result of Locke’s attempt to justify and simultaneously disapprove of the economic system that has existed both in the State of Nature and will continue to exist in liberal civil society. Tarlton, answering the question as to whether or not Of Property “deconstructs” itself, seems unsatisfied with Locke’s overall method: “Its [Of Property’s] first utterances portray an imaginary world of pristine simplicity, a natural place in which property was the indispensable moral and practical means to an individual’s survival—meat to eat, a secure place to sleep. The final attitudes of the text, however, are pronounced against a fully modern background of great inequalities of property and wealth, and we realize by then that this setting had been assumed from the outset, was always already present. If, as Proudhon insisted, all property was theft, then Locke’s chapter five was the eye-witness account and alibi.”90 While this view of Locke’s economics may seem harsh, much of the scholarship on chapter five of the Second Treatise does not favor its method or outcome. However, it is necessary to take Locke’s property economics seriously because it determines the ultimate goals of civil government. Of Property begins with two justifications for the accumulation of property, both leading to the same conclusion that the accumulation of property is in accordance with the State of Nature. The first approach draws upon the State of Nature, stating that reason discloses to mankind the right to pursue its survival through food and drink. The second approach states that through revelation it may be understood that God has given the world to mankind in common for his use.91 These arguments are not positions original to Locke, but reiterations of the theological foundation for mankind’s liberty and equality, which from the very beginning allowed mankind to accumulate property.92 90 91
Tarlton (2006), p. 107 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.25.1-8), p. 285 – 286 “Whether we consider natural Reason, which tells us that Men, being once born, have a right to their Preservation, and consequently to Meat and Drink, and such other things, as Nature affords for their Subsistence: Or Revelation, which gives us an account of those Grants God made of the World to Adam...has given the Earth to the Children of Men, given it to Mankind in common.”
However, given the right to property that extends equally to all mankind, Locke must now reason as to how individuals may remove property from the common stock and make it one’s own. As demonstrated in the slavery analysis, individuals are limited by the Law of Nature to having possession only of themselves, but here, Locke adds the labor of the individual to that self possession. “Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left in it, he hath mixed with his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, it hath by his labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other Men.”93 Thus labor is how Locke enables the individual to remove property from the common stock of the earth in order to guarantee the individual’s survival; but why, then, is private property necessary? Privatization of property through labor guarantees the survival of the individual because it prevents what is popularly known in economics as the “tragedy of the commons.” John F. Henry describes the situation that Lockean labor attempts to solve: “Assume a non-propertied society in which rational, self-interested, utilitymaximizing individuals seek to advantage themselves. A resource (land) is used in common by all, each of whom is led to use that resource beyond the level that a rational collective decision-making process would promote. As there are no internal costs to the use of the resource (outside of one’s own labor), the resource is overused, and each individual imposes external costs on others, leading to the eventual “tragedy of the commons.”94 This idea justifies the privatization of land through labor because without individualistic incentive, individuals would simply abuse common land without regard for the needs or usage of others. Therefore, the Lockean view allows each individual to hold however much land they require for survival, which they will use rationally so as to maximize their own utility. However, there are three limitations to the accumulation of wealth that is allowed by the Law of Nature: the sufficiency limitation, the spoilage limitation, and the supposed labor 92
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.4.1-6), p. 269 “To understand Political Power right, and derive it from its Original, we must consider what State all Men are naturally in, and that is, a State of perfect Freedom to order their Actions, and dispose of their Possessions, and Persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the Will of any other Man.” 93 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.27.4-10), p. 288 94 Henry (1999), p. 611
limitation.95 These limitations are crucial to understanding not only Locke’s conception of property, but also the manipulation of the State of Nature in Second Treatise chapter five by the introduction of money. The “sufficiency limitation” arises immediately after the description of labor as the means by which men come to possess property for themselves individually: “For this Labour being the unquestionable Property of the Labourer, no Man but he can have a right to what that is once joyned to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.”96 Additionally, Locke states that: “Nor was this appropriation of an parcel of Land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other Man, since there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his inclosure for himself.”97 Locke first limits man’s acquisition of property by reaffirming the comprehensive equality endowed to all mankind by the State of Nature. Macpherson summarizes this point: “for each man has a right to his preservation and hence to appropriating the necessities of his life.”98 The phrase, “enough, and as good,” has come under much scrutiny in Locke scholarship: while it establishes a limit to property accumulation, it also places that limit on wheels, by leaving the idea of what is “enough” ultimately to the individual reader.99 However, this limitation appears to remain congruous with the Law of Nature. The “spoilage limitation” prohibits anyone from amassing more property than he or she is able to consume or make use of before it perishes, otherwise the excess returns to common usage because it has not created the productivity for which God has provided the earth to mankind; “As much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils; so much he may by his labour fix a Property in. Whatever is beyond this, is more than his share, and belongs to others. Nothing was made by God for Man to spoil or destroy.”100 Macpherson, Schochet, and Ince all agree that this limitation provides the primary impetus for the creation of money later in chapter five.101 95
Macpherson (1962) ; Schochet (2000) ; Ince (2011) ; Tarlton (2006) Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.27:10-13) p. 288 97 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.33.1-5) p. 291 98 Macpherson (1962), p. 201 99 Tarlton (2006), p. 113 “Critics of his labor-use theory of private possessions might have wondered, however, whether it was even possible to make such a calculation as “enough, and as good” would have required or if anyone aggressively engaged in carving out land from the commons would have had time or inclination to worry about it.” 100 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.31.7-11) p. 290 101 Macpherson (1962), p. 201, 204 ; Schochet (2000), p. 368 – 369; Ince (2011), p. 35 96
Finally, the “labor limitation” stipulates: “As much Land as a Man Tills, Plants, Improves, Cultivates, and can use the Product of, so much is his property. He by his Labour does, as it were, enclose if from the Commons.”102 While this argument does include a component of the spoilage limitation, Locke specifically focuses here on the labor justification for the privatization of property: allowing for the accumulation of only the amount of land the individual is able to enact his or her labor upon. Because there is in fact a finite limit to how much labor an individual can perform on a given piece of land, this appears to be the most definitive limit that Locke imposes on the property holding(s) of individuals.103 While these limits on the annexation of property remain in accordance with the State of Nature, they do not in fact reflect a realistic economic situation, past or present.104 Furthermore, these limitations sketch out a pleasant fantasy in which everyone has the right amount of property that will provide for them, but such does not reflect the reality of mankind’s acquisitive nature and thus remains an incomplete account of property. In spite of these inconsistencies, Tarlton does credit Locke with the fact that his philosophy remains consistent: “in the background, however, there remain always the inescapable originating conditions of equality and commonality, the right of everyone to use the earth and not to be excluded from that right by any solitary claims to precedence.”105 Nonetheless, Locke’s argument turns to the invention of money as a solution to the historical inconsistency, which appears to remain in accordance with the Law of Nature. As Tarlton again observes: “Property has this odd feature, that the very impulses that lead to its creation make possible its abuse. Labour creates property in a thing, but it also increases its value, thus intensifying the desire to possess more.”106 Locke thus establishes a view of property that is comprised of not only landed holdings, but also currency itself. “And thus came in the use of Money, some lasting thing that Men might keep without spoiling, and that by mutual consent Men would take in exchange for the truly useful, but perishable Supports of Life. And as different degrees of Industry were apt to give Men Possessions in different Proportions, so this Invention of Money gave them the opportunity to continue and enlarge them.”107 102
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.32.4-7) p. 290 – 291 Macpherson (1962), p. 201, 214 104 Tarlton (2006), p. 113 – 114 105 Tarlton (2006), p. 110 106 Tarlton (2006), p. 116 107 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.47.1-4 & 48.1-3), p. 301 103
Machpherson, Schochet, Tarlton, and Ince all agree that Locke employs his conception of money to circumvent the three limitations set down by the Law of Nature; while Macpherson takes this conception of money as the origin of “capital,” the other three view this conception as a means to justify the accumulation of wealth far beyond the limits that the Law of Nature has just established. This follows critically, given that these limitations, again, reflect no consistent understanding of human nature or history. Furthermore, Tarlton, Schochet, and Ince agree that Locke in fact creates systemic inequality with his monetary system, one that enables the unlimited accumulation of wealth and thus creates exponential growth of money for those that have property, and a subsistence living for those that must work for wages.108 This conception of money represents a major break from the State of Nature by overturning the theory of necessity in favor of the accumulation of wealth itself for its own sake. At the beginning of his examination into property, Locke clearly established that mankind’s right to property stemmed from either a natural or theological source. The natural source endowed the individual with the right to hold property in order to guarantee his or her survival; the theological source revealed that God gave the earth to mankind in order that the individual may make something productive of it. However, with the establishment of money, all three limitations on property set forth by those sources have been overturned and necessity gives way to unrestrained accumulation for its own sake.109 “It is plain, that Men have agreed to disproportionate and unequal Possession of the Earth, they having by tacit and voluntary consent found out a way, how a man may fairly possess more land that he himself can use the product of, by receiving in exchange for the overplus, Gold and Silver, which may be hoarded up without any injury to any one, these metalls not spoiling or decaying in the hands of the possessor.”110 Thus money enables the landowner to accumulate more goods than they are able to consume reasonably by exchanging them in the marketplace for non-perishable forms of value: currency. The sufficiency limitation is overcome by the creation of a market system through Lockean currency, whereby people may exchange currency for goods and labor for currency. Such markets of exchange are essential to city formation, as explored in the Aristotle analysis. This system of exchanging currency for goods and labor for currency, a system in accordance with the 108
Tarlton (2006), p. 116 ; Schochet (2000), p. 369 ; Ince (2011), p. 35 – 37, 44 Ince (2011), p. 33, 36 – 38 ; Tarlton (2006), p. 107 – 108 110 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.50.4-10) p. 302 109
Law of Nature, allows for the violation of the sufficiency limitation because if individuals can survive without producing their survival goods firsthand, they do not then require land for production, thus returning their unused land to the common stock so that it may be absorbed by an individual who will be productive with it.111 Ironically, the individual may well end up working on the land that the Law of Nature would have provided for them originally, in exchange for currency indirectly rather than directly for the sake of survival; thus the monetary system also overcomes the labor limitation by allowing the landowning individual to use his excess currency to pay for excess workers who will labor on behalf of the landowner, thus maintaining his or her ownership of an excess parcel of land. Such excess currency, provided by the excess land that became owned owing to the proxy labor of other individuals, is now allowable; it overcomes the spoilage limitation by allowing excess wealth to be stored up in a non-perishable form. There are two distinct modes of behavior by the landowner and the non-landowner, respectively, that arise from the Lockean conception of money: capital hoarding and want of natural rights protection. Macpherson holds that: “What is relevant here is that Locke saw money as not merely a medium of exchange but as capital. Indeed its function as a medium of exchange was seen as subordinate to its function as capital, for in his view the purpose of agriculture, industry, and commerce was the accumulation of capital. And the purpose of capital was not to provide a consumable income for its owners, but to beget further capital by profitable investment.”112 Macpherson believes that Locke’s monetary conception creates a cyclical system of investment, profit, and reinvestment so that, while the landowner’s wealth may be increasing, the gains generated return immediately back into the marketplace to accumulate ever increasing sums of wealth—meaning the individual’s overall holdings of property and currency. This repetitive cycle of investment, return, and reinvestment creates a sort of “hoarding for the sake of investment,” as elaborated upon by Ince.113 On the other side, Ince cites Ashcraft and Tully, believing that this monetary system, which is not necessarily post- or a-political, in fact encourages man’s agglomeration into political society because he wants for protection under natural law. 111
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.85.1-8), p. 322 Macpherson (1962), p. 207 113 Ince (2011), p. 36 112
It has been clearly laid out how the Lockean conception of money violates the limitations set in place by the Law of Nature from the very beginning of this analysis; Ince believes, drawing from Ashcraft and Tully, that because such a system in fact violates the Law of Nature, non-landowners will flock into political society seeking protection under the Law of Nature that provides for the equality and liberty of all men to survive, rather than be crowded out economically by a few landowners who accumulate any excess capital at a vastly alarming rate. Ironically, such protection under the Law of Nature is the same reason Locke cites when establishing why mankind would surrender certain rights to live under a political society.114 This interpretation of the monetary system simply makes the wealthy few the violators of the Law of Nature and those who, therefore, creates a State of War inside a political society. Either way, these two interpretations create a highly polarized economic society, where a landed few provide labor to a non-landed many in exchange for labor by proxy, which maintains the ownership of the landowner, while allowing the non-landowner to provide for their survival by exchanging their labor for currency. While the market system established by Lockean currency does allow everyone to survive materially, it does in fact create systemic inequality by shifting the focus of labor from survival necessity to the accumulation of wealth in and of itself.115 Furthermore, while the Lockean system does provide for the specialization of tasks necessary to a robust and efficient economy, as explored in chapter one, the inequality simultaneously generated does not justify the expanded focus on material wealth from necessity to its acquisition for its own sake.116 Importantly, this account of property becomes the basis for Locke’s understanding of the origins and ends of civil government, thus establishing in what the highest good of the society consists. As explored above in chapter seven of the Two Treatises, Locke establishes the foundation for political society as a mutual defense against others in the State of Nature: “The only way whereby any one devests himself of his Natural Liberty, and puts on the bonds of Civil Society is by agreeing with other Men to joyn and unite into a Community, for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure Enjoyment of their Properties, and a greater Security against any that are not of it.”117 114
Ince (2011), p. 37 ; Locke, Two Treatises of Government (2.20.1-9) p. 281 & (2.21.1-8) p. 282 Ince (2011), p. 33 ; Tarlton (2006), p. 115 – 116 116 Schochet (2000), p. 369 117 Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.95.4-9), p. 330 – 331 115
In order to guarantee the continuity of the State of Nature, Locke requires that mankind surrender only its liberty to punish wrongdoers—those who violate the Law of Nature—and instead place their faith in a civil government to act as peacekeeper with a set of laws commonly agreed upon by consenting individuals, in the vein of the Law of Nature itself. This view directly affects the end of civil government that Locke conceives: the protection of property. Having established the State of Nature, and the freedom and equality that it promises, Locke then poses the question: why would anyone subject himself to the rule of a civil government if perfect liberty was possible without it? He answers that, while such an ideal existence is possible, it is threatened by the constant invasion by other men. While not delving into the intricacies of human greed, Locke seems to understand that such a perfect state of existence, the State of Nature, is impossible given the inherent flaws in human beings. Therefore, men form into political societies in order to guarantee their liberty and their property—the means by which to survive and prosper: “The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.”118 For Locke, civil society is in fact only the lesser of two evils. The relationships that form a household are naturally binding, but those that form a political society are due to secondary motives: the desire to preserve one’s property from the greed of another. However, such greed must arise from human passion and self interest, otherwise no one would desire either to infringe upon the property of another, nor desire to limit their liberties beneath a government. Interestingly, this fact demonstrates the unspoken limits of civil government itself within its own society. In order to attract free men under its protection, civil government could not threaten the liberties of individuals further than the limits imposed by the Law of Nature itself, that law being the right to punish wrong doers who infringe upon the property of others. Therefore, the role of civil government is clearly demarcated: a legal body that only maintains the natural freedom and equality of individuals with the society and protects that society from a State of War beyond it. Any secondary actions that support these two main precepts must then be agreed upon by the majority of the society in order to be right.
Locke, Two Treatises of Government (II.124.1-3), p. 350 – 351
Analytic Synthesis: Locke This understanding of civil government helps to design a formula similar to the πόλις of Aristotle explored in chapter two. John Locke’s political agglomeration appears to be the inversion of the Aristotelian formula: πόλις : household :: education(?) : economics.119 While the Lockean system will be evaluated in the following chapter, the conclusion of this analysis previews that of this project: that Locke’s political system fails in comparison to Aristotle because it stops short of accounting for the non-material goods of a society. While households agglomerate to form a political society, the chief end of the society itself is to guarantee the material well being of individual households, rather than the non-material well being of the whole society. Therefore, the political community (πόλις) exists for the sake of the household. Furthermore, because Locke does not provide for education or other public goods in his political construction, outside of military protection and criminal justice, material goods of the city are superior to the non-material goods of the city. Based on the omission of non-material goods from the Lockean construction, it seems that the pursuit of non-material goods is made on a caseby-case basis of individual households, whose economic situation allows them to afford such non-productive goods.
119 While education is not discussed in the Second Treatise, it is left in the schematic to demonstrate it’s absence in Locke’s political design, and thus the theory put forth by this project.
Chapter Three – Aristotle v. Locke Having completed the analyses of Aristotle’s Politics and John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, this paper will now compare these two works, holding them as foundational representations of the ancient and modern political-philosophical schools, respectively. In an article entitled The Aristotelianism of Locke’s Politics J.S. Maloy attempts to disprove the traditionally accepted view that Aristotle and Locke stand as ideological opposites, a view that holds each as the founder of republicanism and liberalism, respectively. Maloy comments in his analysis that: “Recognizing Locke’s Aristotelian rejoinder to the long-running debate over analogies of power might, on further investigation, allow us to make sense of major cleavages between him and other key figures in early-modern political thought in ways that are unimaginable to those who can only see in the Second Treatise a thorough-going anti-Aristotelianism.”120 This point serves to illustrate again why Locke was chosen as Aristotle’s opposite number for this evaluation: first, because Locke’s political philosophy remains germane to numerous modern democracies (especially his economic theory) and second, because he attempted to modernize certain Aristotelian principles, as will be explored below. The Politics and the Second Treatise of Civil Government will undergo three comparisons based upon the following criteria: the nature of humanity and the reasons for civil agglomeration, the status of property and economics, and their views on the ends of civil agglomerations as they relate to the non-material well-being of a People. The first comparison examines the overall structure and logic of these works, beginning with each philosopher’s assumptions and/or observations in order to rate whether their work holds overall when placed under practical scrutiny. The second comparison builds from the assumptions examined in the first, and specifically focuses on the material implications of each philosopher’s view of civil agglomeration. By examining the economic ramifications of Aristotle and Locke in comparison, this criterion examines the material aspect of this project’s study into the relative value of ancient and modern political philosophy. The final comparison will be between the philosopher’s stated or otherwise interpreted end of civil agglomeration in order to examine which philosophical system provides better for the non-material needs of a society, fulfilling the second aspect of this project’s evaluation. 120
Maloy (2009), p. 256
The Nature of Humanity and Civil Agglomeration When examining both Aristotle’s Politics and John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, one may find many similarities between both philosophers’ structures in how they approach political philosophy. Several times throughout the Second Treatise, a reader of Aristotle may find key sentences whose themes and even wording closely resemble those in the Politics. This is worthy of note because, as Maloy tells us, “Within the modern academy “liberals,” “communitarians,” and “republicans” have again made a habit of pronouncing the names of Locke and Aristotle in tones of antagonism. In broad outline the reasons have not changed in two or three centuries: the first stands for natural-rights individualism and the second for an organic conception of community.”121 Maloy comments that such adversity is awkward because Locke responds to Robert Filmer on his belief that Filmer had misinterpreted, or outright ignored, the difference between household management and kingly rule. This is an idea that Aristotle had painstakingly demarcated early in the Politics, and one that Locke draws directly from Aristotle in the Second Treatise. Put another way, the adversity between Aristotle and Locke in contemporary study is strange because Locke uses the Aristotelian principle of diversified forms of leadership to respond to Robert Filmer, but also wholly disagrees with Aristotle’s conceptions of humanity. Thus Locke fails in his political construction from the beginning because he cannot reconcile freedom and absolute equality with the Aristotelian system, one that is founded on hierarchy and diversified tasks. While both Aristotle and Locke address the metaphysical state of humanity as their foundations for political power, each approaches the issue in distinct fashions. Locke, in responding to a political theory so dedicated to the inequality of mankind, thus spends the first thirteen pages of the Second Treatise reestablishing the natural equality of mankind and reminds the reader at every possible point that that view is the true foundation of political power. The method employed is the State of Nature, something that many scholars question the value of given its fictional quality. Furthermore, Locke is so dedicated to the comprehensive equality of humanity, that he is then forced to contradict this claim in Of Property in order to align his philosophy with his political reality; this is a fact for which Locke has received immense 121
Maloy (2009), p. 236
criticism.122 Onur Ince claims that this inconsistency arises from Locke’s theological foundation: “While it is possible to maintain that Christian religiosity and capitalist behavior are reconcilable at the individual level, it is much harder to accommodate the social principles of both moral economy and market economy within the same theological paradigm.”123 On the other side, Aristotle establishes the foundation for political power in a mere seven lines through an observation of how human beings actually live (Aristotle, Politics 1252a1-7): that man is a communal animal. Aristotle only establishes his natural understanding individuals when it becomes germane to the design of the city itself, and even then takes what Delba Winthrop regards as a “more sober view” of human existence.124 The Aristotelian view of freedom and slavery accepts ex ante that mankind is a natural slave, as demonstrated in the slavery section of the Aristotle analysis. The task then falls to Aristotle to design a political economy that cooperates with the reality of mankind’s natural slavery: gearing each individuals’ natural surpluses and deficiencies towards the comprehensive good of the city materially and non-materially.125 Because it is not coerced but natural, Aristotle’s “slavery” creates a stratified society whose material efficiency creates the ability for all citizens to share in the non-material goods of humanity, which therefore excuses the lack of freedom and absolute equality that Locke holds so dear. While the Lockean view of human equality is a noble vision, one that aptly responds to that of Robert Filmer, it is forced to account for the inequality that naturally arises in human agglomeration by violating the equality established by the Law of Nature in Of Property. Some scholars posit that in doing this, Locke’s economics enforces, if not justifies, the inequality for 122
Hindess (2007) ; Schochet (2000) ; Tarlton (2006) ; Machpherson (1962) I have addressed Locke’s view of human equality and liberty as “comprehensive” throughout this project with great intention. Not only does Locke’s equality and liberty extend to the very core of every individual, it maintains this depth throughout the entirety of humanity, thus making his property chapter all the more concerning where Locke is forced to justify the inequality that so naturally occurs in human agglomeration. 123 Ince (2011), p. 32 124 Winthrop (2008), p. 190 “Hobbes posited that men start out perfectly free in the state of nature, and yet subjected them to the slavery of their passions, as manipulated by political science. Does that sort of political science make sense, and will is cause trouble in politics through its foolish optimism? Aristotle’s more sober view that freedom is problematic warns us away from the extremes of both freedom and slavery. 125 Some foresee better with the mind than others, and thus should rule (Aristotle, Politics 1252a31-34)
which Of Property attempts to account.126 By contrast, Aristotle recognizes that political agglomeration arises from a necessity of survival, not protection, and addresses natural inequality by accepting it as fact, and then creates a system of economics and education that manipulates this inequality to ensure the best possible human outcome.127 Finally, while Locke establishes a state of perfect equality and liberty, throughout the Second Treatise he repetitively places restrictions upon that liberty and equality. This process ironically culminates in chapter five, Of Property, where he overturns that equality and liberty with money, a silently consented to mechanism that essentially states: all humanity is free, so long as you have the wealth to support that freedom. Aristotle, on the other hand, approaches civil agglomeration conversely, recognizing that individuals are not in fact free from the outset, but that by agglomerating into society, can engage in the higher pursuits of humanity that will liberate the individual from this natural enslavement. This Aristotelian view of moderate liberty through education does not overturn necessity, as Locke’s economic system does, but allows individuals to understand necessity as such and therefore liberates man to enjoy the non-material fruits of civil agglomeration. Thus individuals in the Aristotelian πόλις would not miss the total liberty of living apolitically, because both their material and non-material goods are guaranteed. Locke’s State of Nature teases the individual with a fictional existence wherein no individual should desire to harm another, but instead offers civil agglomeration to humanity as the lesser of two evils: maintaining a state that should have existed all along in exchange for protection from an evil that should not really exist. Aristotle, by contrast, recognizes that such absolute liberty was never the case, even before politics, and constructs a civil agglomeration, accepting that community is a reality of humanity, which opens higher realms of human existence to the individual; this view takes away nothing, because man’s liberty was never his own to begin with. Aristotle does not offer the city, but accepts it as a historical reality. Locke does offer the choice, by stating that mankind must consent to political life, but in reality this choice is coercion. Schochet comments on the difficulty surrounding Lockean consent:
Hindess (2007) ; Tarlton (2006) ; Schochet (2000), p. 376 “A principle difficulty with it [Locke’s doctrine of obligation and resistance] is that it does not seem to apply to people without economic property in the sense intended by Chapter V, that is, the property of land, money and other goods. Those with no property to be protected would not only have no ground for a duty to obey constituted authority, they would have had no apparent reason for leaving the state of nature in the first place.” 127 Shaw (2005) ; Walsh (1997) ; Terezis (2005) ; Vasillopulos (2011) ; Strauss (1964)
“This principle [Consent] necessarily applied not only to those who had lived in the state of nature, but with equal force to their descendants and to any who joined civil societies that already existed. Otherwise, Locke would have been forced to concede Filmer’s argument that denying the freedoms of the first generation to its successors would have validated one of the primary patriarchal contentions, that the acts of parents can bind children. As Filmer put it, ‘It if be allowed that the acts of parents can bind the children, then farewell the doctrine of the natural freedom of mankind; where subjection of children to parents it natural, there can be no natural freedom.’”128 Unfortunately, in order to maintain the equality of the State of Nature in political society, Locke had to formulate the idea of tacit consent, so that those born into this society were not bound to it by convention, but by choosing to remain there. However, consent prevents individuals from seeking out the Law of Nature for themselves because by being born in this society they have already consented to its precepts. Therefore, any generation of individuals born under the Lockean regime would be bound to follow the Law of Nature as their ancestors interpreted it. Such a view eliminates the possibility of conversation and reform. By contrast, the cooperation of Aristotelian slavery and education provide for the growth and of the individual, and thus the city as a whole; since education is a reform of the self, it follows, according to Aristotle, that reform is enabled for the whole city.129 Despite their differences on the philosophical origins of societies, both Locke and Aristotle in their own way appeal to the purely economic origins of societies by appealing to the specialization of tasks that leads to greater productive efficiency. While Aristotle divides labor throughout the whole city, Locke seems to divide the daily and non-daily needs of the household within the household itself. This could be why Locke is more specific than Aristotle when discussing slaves and servants, because in order to divide labor within a household there must be 128
Schochet (2000), p. 383 & Filmer, The Anarchy on a Limited or Mixed Monarchy (1648) in Political Works, ed. Laslett, p. 287 129 Aristotle, Politics 1332a31-38 & Lord (2013), p. 210 τὸ δὲ σπουδαίαν εἶναι τὴν πόλιν οὐκέτι τύχης ἔργον ἀλλ᾽ ἐπιστήμης καὶ προαιρέσεως. ἀλλὰ μὴν σπουδαία γε πόλις ἐστὶ τῷ τοὺς πολίτας τοὺς μετέχοντας τῆς πολιτείας εἶναι σπουδαίους: ἡμῖν δὲ πάντες οἱ πολῖται μετέχουσι τῆς πολιτείας. τοῦτ᾽ ἄρα σκεπτέον, πῶς ἀνὴρ γίνεται σπουδαῖος. καὶ γὰρ εἰ πάντας ἐνδέχεται σπουδαίους εἶναι, μὴ καθ᾽ ἕκαστον δὲ τῶν πολιτῶν, οὕτως αἱρετώτερον: ἀκολουθεῖ γὰρ τῷ καθ᾽ ἕκαστον καὶ τὸ πάντας. “But the city’s being excellent is no longer the work of fortune, but of knowledge and intentional choice. But a city is excellent, at any rate, through its citizens’—those taking part in the regime— being excellent. This, then, must be investigated—how a man becomes excellent. Now even if it is possible for all to be excellent but now each of the citizen’s individually, the letter is more choice worthy; for all being excellent follows from all individually being excellent.”129
a more clearly delineated role structure. Whereas because Aristotle appears to divide labor throughout the city, he thus leaves specificity in terms of who performs the labor to interpretation. While both philosophers defend their philosophical views of city formation, it should be clear by now that the Aristotelian model better accounts for political agglomeration as a whole. This is because Aristotle begins with the observation that man is a communal animal, and the natural conception of humanity remains congruous throughout the development of the πόλις, accepting and working with mankind’s natural realities. Because human beings are communal animals who always seek some kind of good, the political agglomeration of these individuals seeks the good for the whole because the good of the whole is the good of every individual. In contrast to Aristotle, Locke begins with an idealized view of humanity that he then has to overcome, through his economic system, in order to account for the reality of human nature. While this system begins with the precept of liberty and equality, it ends up enforcing inequality by making material well being the goal of the individual; Of Property seems to tease the nonlanded individual: you are free, so long as you can pay for it.
Economics and Property, The Material Goods of a Society In daily life, the material well being of a society is important; Aristotle and Locke would both agree on this issue, given that material security is what fulfills survival necessity. However, their differences arise in the final end of civil agglomeration. Aristotle finds that non-material well being takes precedent over the material because the economic system has already provided for material security and laid the issue to rest. By contrast, Locke finds that material security is the only end of civil agglomeration, given the fact that wealth can be amassed indefinitely, thus leading to the issue of interpreting what is “enough and as good” for Locke. Regardless of this point, the evaluation will now deal with each philosopher’s accounts of material well being because it is of more immediate consequence, and the very next issue addressed by both philosophers, having established the philosophical basis of political agglomeration. Aristotle and Locke both use successive chapters to address slavery and property. While Aristotle discusses currency instead of actual land holdings, it is important to note that both philosophers discuss slavery and then household property in a similar manner. Aristotle’s discussion of slavery is problematic because it appears vague, setting up a social distinction between higher and lower—a distinction that is not clearly defined or employed in the city until the economic-education system. Locke’s slavery clearly provides for a rudimentary system of justice in the State of Nature: stating that someone may become a slave when they have violated the Law of Nature and thus surrendered their right to participate in its ratio.130 However, Locke’s stance on slavery remains vague in civil society because it was conceived of in the State of Nature, where individuals maintained justice for themselves. By contrast, Aristotle’s slavery becomes clear when the economic-education system is outlined, as demonstrated in the Aristotle analysis. The discussion of property, especially currency, is equal frustrating and contradictory when it comes to Locke, but is much more defined by Aristotle. This frustration occurs because Locke’s economic system circumvents the principles of the Law of Nature that provided for this economic system’s very existence. For both philosophers, currency is a tool. However, the ends of this tool vary greatly. Throughout the Second Treatise, Locke bases wealth upon property holdings and the productivity that property has. By contrast, Aristotle never discusses physical 130
property, but instead appears to disregard land wealth as worthy of consideration through its omission, recognizing instead that while some members of the city farm and hold land, others are manufacturers, traders, or even philosophers whose worth to the city, and thus wealth, is determined by the degree to which they provide for the material and/or non-material goods of the city. In the Politics, Aristotle holds wealth as a means to trade and to secure the well being of the city—both material and non-material well being—through the leisure required to pursue the highest goods of the city. Aristotle is explicit that personal wealth in and of itself is not in accordance with living well, but that wealth throughout the whole city contributes to both the material and non-material goods of the city. Concepts like interest, earning money off of money, encourage behavior not in accordance with the highest good of the city or the individual, but promote the overvaluation of materials, rather than the proper and rationed mutual valuation of material and non-material things. By contrast, Locke sees wealth as the means by which individuals can expand their personal value and liberty through means other than property. Because property that goes to waste by producing more materials than the land owner can use is returned to common use, currency provides the means by which an individual can maintain, if not increase, an abnormal share of land by exchanging excess goods for a communally agreed upon currency. Therefore currency is simply a means of guaranteeing property security for an individual/household, which is the end goal of Locke’s political philosophy. As was discussed at length in the Locke analysis, this view of currency stands in opposition to the naturally established limits of property set forth by Locke in the discussion of the State of Nature. The use of currency to circumvent this issue was also discussed at length, and thus overturns the entire State of Nature discussion that preceded it; again calling into question the value of the State of Nature to begin with. Tarlton summarizes the effect of currency: “It is interesting here, to note that in no other context within the Second Treatise does the individual have the power autonomously to overturn nature.”131 Finally, Locke seems unconcerned with shared productivity among households within a civil society, but merely the independence of each household. Aristotle, on the other hand, is mindful of how households and individuals within a πόλις and household each fulfill different tasks for the sake of other households and individuals who fulfill other tasks. Locke’s focus on individuality seems to raise the question: why even agglomerate at all if each household is still 131
Tarlton (2006), p. 112
an independent unit within the civil agglomeration? Furthermore, when he includes slaves and servants in the household unit, Locke sets up a complicated class structure of landowners, workers, and slaves.132 The result of this is that only some members of the household and civil society actually have wealth, while others are forced to sell their labor in exchange for wages because of the snowball effect which currency creates with regard to the accumulation of wealth: those who have land continue to expand their wealth and land holdings while more and more non-land owners are forced to labor under the landowner because it is the only way to provide for oneself, thanks to currency which can now be earned through labor and traded for survival goods. In Locke’s initial view, everyone would have enough land to produce the goods needed to support themselves, but instead this vision results in a skewed system of landowners and a majority of non-land owners. This seems eerily similar to the absolute monarchism that Locke is writing against: while writing in favor of individual liberty, Locke again and again places more restrictions on the individual by subjecting him or her to civil society, enforcing the need for currency or land to survive, and promoting a system of exchange in order for non-land owners to survive. Such a system reminds us of the City of Pigs, in that material security is made the paramount goal of the individual and society as a whole. In contrast to all of this, Aristotle appears to set up a system by which individual households may share their labor towards both the collective material and non-material good(s) of the city. Given that there are limits to wealth, it would seems thus that every household, and therefore individual, in the city would have what they needed in order to live and live well. The limits established by Aristotle are maintained throughout his construction of the ideal city, while Locke seems to circumvent his own limits at every turn. Aristotle’s balanced system is provided for by the education system of the city, explored in the final section of this chapter.
As a side note: if, as Jennifer Welchman (1995) finds, slavery is a rudimentary means of justice in the State of Nature, should it not be eliminated once a uniform code and system of justice is established within the civil agglomeration?
The Ends of Civil Agglomeration and The Non-Material Goods of a Society As has been made clear, John Locke does not address non-material well being in his political construction, and instead holds material well being as the ultimate end of political agglomeration. Thus this final section of evaluation is forcibly brief with regard to Locke because the end of his political society was explored in the section above. On the other hand, because Aristotle equally divided his time between material and non-material well being, this section will focus mainly on Aristotle, for whom non-material well being is the ultimate end of political agglomeration. In the Second Treatise, Locke is explicit on the reason for civil agglomeration: the protection of private property. Households are individual and independent units that maintain their own well being, appealing to the mutually established civil government only when the Law of Nature is violated within, or from outside, a given society. Therefore, any non-material goods are maintained within individual households to the extent that this individual household desires and/or can afford. Civil government only acts as the earthly judge of wrong when the Law of Nature is violated; why the Law of Nature would be violated to begin with in the State of Nature is something that Locke does not address outright, but leaves as a tacit understanding—i.e. man’s failure to consult his reason. Aristotle, on the other hand, would be able to solve for the unreasonableness that creates Locke’s civil agglomeration. For Aristotle, the highest good of the city is that all citizens live well; he finds that the excellence of a city results from all its parts (citizens) being excellent. This concept of excellence consists in not only having the material needs fulfilled, but also the higher needs of humanity cultivated. Such higher needs include art and philosophy, fostered by education. Education is the system by which a city fulfills its highest good because it trains souls to their excellence. While this excellence varies among individuals, this approach appeals to the “weakest link” train of thought; the fact that a chain is only as good as its weakest link means that a populace, with each individual well educated for its role in society, will be a strong community, not merely a grouping of people under a common law. In the Lockean theory, individuals who desire to pursue the higher goods, those beyond merely the goods for survival, would have to afford the leisure to do so through monetary status. In the Aristotelian theory, citizens are educated to fulfill their greatest potential; while for some that may be farming, for others it is trade, or craftsmanship, or even philosophy. Therefore, given the sharing of tasks, those who are educated in philosophy would pursue the highest goods
of humanity for the sake of the whole city, because they have been granted the leisure to do so through the labors of others in “lower” tasks. Thus, the entire community prospers under a state that not only provides for individual necessities, but also allows for each citizen to participate in a rich human life, beyond mere survival. Here, having compared Aristotle and Locke on the genesis of political agglomeration, the material and the non-material goods of a society, and the ends of civil society, it should be clear how each philosopher stands opposed on the question of private good versus public good. While the Lockean model appeals to individuality, by protecting the property of the individual from others and allowing the individual freedom to do as he or she pleases, it does not provide for non-material goods for all—only those that can afford it are allowed higher, and truly human, realms of existence. Such a system enables only a few to truly live well, at the expense (labor) of the many. In contrast, the Aristotelian model provides for the material and non-material goods of all individuals by educating its citizens to by mindful not only of themselves, but of their whole community. While Aristotle’s model does not allow for vast wealth, it truly provides for its citizens by reducing the inequality of wealth in a society and by opening up higher realms of human existence through public education. Locke’s model seems to allow for a few very wealthy, and a majority of very poor, whereas Aristotle’s model asks that all members of the society live a moderate existence so that all members of the community may partake in the comprehensive goods of the city and live truly excellent human life.
Conclusion – The Good None of this critique should instill an attitude of distaste toward Locke. While Locke’s ideas were revolutionary for their time, what has been demonstrated is that this philosopher and his school should not be taken as the final source on political thought. Furthermore, this critique has shown that there are ideas and practices in ancient philosophy that contemporary politics can learn from in order to assuage the failings of modern political thought. The Aristotle analysis has demonstrated that, despite being pre-modern, ancient political philosophy does in fact influence and offer solutions to contemporary politics. Lockean political philosophy was revolutionary for two reasons: one contextually and the other philosophically. While Locke was able to defend the freedom and equality of humanity, and construct a political society based upon that view, the greater implication of this inception was the founding of modern individualism. The implications of Locke’s individualism are far more noteworthy than his response to Filmer because he demonstrated that a society does not necessarily have to precede the individual, but that a society can exist while protecting the individuality of its members. Locke allowed individuals to remain individuals in society, without surrendering their identity to that of the society itself. While the implications of Locke’s failure to account for the comprehensive goods of a people have been demonstrated above, such individualism was one that had not yet been accounted for in political philosophy. However, it is clear from this project that by structuring a political agglomeration around the public good (as seems to be the very nature of political agglomeration itself) a greater comprehensive good can be achieved. The founding principle of Aristotle’s πόλις is that it pursues the most authoritative good of the community and thus in pursuing the public good, accounts for the private needs of all members of the community. While the public good inclusionary, the private good is exclusionary. Emphasis on the private good creates competitive tension within the community, which was founded precisely to prevent such internal struggle so that a more peaceful and prosperous existence could be achieved. By contrast, Aristotle’s emphasis on the public good, comprised of all private goods, founds a city that embraces the nature of political agglomeration. While Locke presents political society as the lesser of two evils, where individuals in the society are only less inclined to harm others as they were in the State of Nature. In his book, Democracy’s Discontent, Michael Sandel attempts “to identify the public philosophy implicit in our practices and institutions and to show how tensions in the philosophy
show up in the practice.”133 Sandel finds on the one hand that the issue with democracy, especially in the United States, arises from an overly serious devotion to our ideals; a devotion that blinds us to the distinction between theory and practice. On the other hand, Sandel finds that theory is inherent to the very practice of politics, because the practice must take its direction from some ideal or theory. “But if political philosophy is unrealizable in one sense, it is unavoidable in another... Political institutions are not simply instruments that implement ideas independently conceived; they are themselves embodiments of ideas. For all we may resist such ultimate questions as the meaning of justice and the nature of the good life, what we cannot escape is that we live some answer to these questions— we live some theory—all the time.”134 While there may be a distinction between the theory and the practice of politics, it behooves us to investigate this relationship because, in reality, the theory has vital implications on actual human behavior. As the most human of all activities, I believe that it is philosophy’s duty to pursue its pure theories to their practical edifices, so that it may truly benefit not only those who engage in it, but also live their lives by it. While both Aristotle and John Locke address the why and how of civil agglomeration, each approaches this practical reality from a radically different theoretical conception of humanity. This difference extends into Aristotelian and Lockean political philosophy to such a degree that it perfectly characterizes the debate between the public and private good. Rather than normatively evaluate the theory behind the practical, my actual argument has broached, through two significant thinkers, the two issues discussed at the outset of this presentation: that not only is there a necessary relationship between the practical and the theoretical in politics, but also that there are ideas in ancient philosophy that reveal a more complete discussion of political philosophy by considering a view of humanity that preceded modern individualism. I have accomplished this by demonstrating that the Aristotelian system better provides for the comprehensive goods of a people than John Locke’s system. With this thought in mind, I conclude with on those who value material things over non-material things: σπουδάζειν περὶ τὸ ζῆν, ἀλλὰ μὴ τὸ εὖ ζῆν (Aristotle, Politics 1258a5-6). “They are concerned about living, but not about living well.” 133 134
Sandel (1996), p. ix Sandel (1996), p. ix
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