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Politics translated by Joe Sachs

This book doesn't seem to be compiled very well, but it is the form that exists. Some of it is about normative claims regarding politics, and other parts are descriptive claims and observations about government.

Book I

1 - The most sovereign of all associations is the city.

2 – That which has the power to look into the future by thinking is a natural master, but carrying this out is naturally slavish.

A city is more primary than a household, and a household is more primary than an individual. This isn't to say that the collective supersedes the individual, but that the activities of a city are where the activities of individuals move towards. So this may be like how the body overall is more primary than the cells that comprise it.

A complete human is the best animal, but separate from the law, he is him the worst.

4 – If labor were automated like robots, there would be no need for subordinates.

A household manager uses slaves as instruments over other instruments. As the instruments of the master, they are possessions. 

5 - A slave is like a tame animal.

7 - The relationship between slave and master should be mutual. It should not be merely dominance from the master, but something that benefits both people given their capacities.

8 – The social structures of animals seems to be different because of food. Consider the social lives of lions compared to the social lives of sheep.

11 – The story of Thales when he was told that philosophy was useless, so that winter he invested in all the olive trees based on philosophical reasoning, and became rich by predicting opportunity in the future.

13 – Aristotle says that slaves don’t deliberate, women deliberate without authority, children have incomplete deliberation. 

Women should be educated in politics because their children are what make up a city. 

Book II

2 - A city cannot be one in a platonic way, because it is many people. Households are more singular, and individualss more so.

A city is when an association of multiplicity that is self-sufficient.

5 – 

Aristotle mentions 3 ways property is divided.

Private property and common stock.

Common property and private stock

Common property and common stock

The people who work the land should not be those who take from the common stock because otherwise they will disagree with others about what they deserve. Those who work the land would believe that they deserve more from the common stock.

7 - Wealth is not always good for a city because it gives an incentive for others to attack.

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8 – Since written laws are universal, and actions are about particulars, then laws need to be changed sometimes. In other words, laws can strive to be universal in a sense, but they will always apply to particular instances that can easily be different and relevant ways.

9 - Spartan government

10 - Cretan government

11 - Carthaginian government

12 – Famous politicians

Book III

1- A citizen is one who takes part in judging and ruling. So people are citizens to the greatest extent in democracy in terms of what degree they participate as a multitude.

3- Form of government is what makes a city different, not the citizens being different, because the association of citizens is the form of government.

4 – A ruler learns to rule by being ruled.

5 - The qualifications of citizenship should grow stricter over time.

7 - 
Kingship – tyranny

Aristocracy – oligarchy

Constitutional - democracy

These are the forms of government and distinguished from their corrupted versions. But these distinctions evolve across the chapters.

8 – Oligarchy is when people rule because of wealth, democracy is when the poor are in charge. Fees and money are incidental. 

9 - Because a complete life is living happily and beautifully, and the city is an association of the people, a city is for the sake of beautiful action, not living together.

11- Familiarity with the house doesn’t only belong to the builder. The person living in the house is familiar as well, perhaps more so.

13 – Aristotle says that people of good birth are likely to be good people; but he disputes this in the book Rhetoric.

If one person is so much better than others in virtue, then it would be unjust for them to hold equal shares. They will be a god among humans. They would be the law. This is why ostracism existed. 

14 – 
Forms of kingship:
         - Heroic form, over willing subjects with limited function. 
         - Barbarian form, rule by family descent according to law.
         - Caretaker form, elected tyranny
         - Spartan form, generalship by family descent.

15 – Kingship is better for small cities.
16 – The law is intellect without appetite. I take this to mean that the law is blind, because it doesn't have feelings or emotions.

Laws from custom are the most authoritative.

18- Aristotle favors aristocracy.

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Book IV

1 - Laws should be adapted to the government, not the government to the law. In this way, I see the government as primary, but laws should be made as well as they can be for that form of government, even if there is an ideal government with ideal law.

2 – Of bad government, democracy is the best. Of good government, democracy is the worst. 

3 - First democracy – complete equality.

6 – 

Democracy: who can participate

First form: everyone can participate if they can take time off.

Second form: Only citizens

Third form: All free people may participate

Fourth form: Everyone does take part and they all can take time off, and the populace ends up acting like a tyrant. This is when demagogues may arrive.


First form: When people are inferior and possess small property.

Second and third form: Less and better property, begins to give way to favoritism and nepotism

Fourth form: Confederacy of the powerful

8 – Constitutional rule leaning towards oligarchy is called aristocracy just because of being well off with money. This is why aristocracy is viewed as something bad even though it is about virtue.

10 - Tyranny only has a view to its advantage.

11 – Extreme neediness breaks a spirit, so these people only know how to be ruled in a slavish way. Extremely fortunate people don’t know how to be ruled. Combining these people makes a city consist of slaves and masters only. This is far from friendship, an important aspect of a healthy city.

14- How the government deliberates 

16 – Three characteristics of courts: from among whom members are drawn, what they judge, how they are appointed.

Book V

2 – The causes of factional conflict: the condition people are in; for the sake of which they engage in conflict, and initial occasions of turmoil.

4 – Why governments change

5 – Tyrants are generals and demagogues. A demagogue without military skill primarily has skill with rhetoric still lacks the same degree of power or ability that a tyrant would have.
6 – Oligarchies can change in war and peace when, due to distrust of the people, mercenaries are used for defense and security. Those mercenaries eventually take over.

7 – Governments are preserved when the things that destroy them are far away, and when those things are held close, they cause people to cling to the government out of fear.

10 – Tyrants arise in support of the populace, in opposition to prominent people.

Tyrants seek pleasure, kings seek beauty.

Kingship is primarily destroyed from within. Either the king becomes tyrannical, or creates factions.

Kings of unwilling subjects are tyrants.

11 - Tyrants are warmongers, so that people don’t have leisure and will always need a leader.

Tyrants aim to make people think small, get people to distrust one another, and hinder actions.

Book VI 

2 – The things common to democracy

4 – Constitutional government comes about best from farmers because their territory is spread out. But this is really only something that matters when non-farmers are close enough to where actions of the government take place. Aristotle's concern is that those people would have more opportunity to be disruptive.

5 – What is conducive to a government is not the manner that makes the government take its form to the greatest extent possible, but what makes the government last.

8 – Minimal offices of the government

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Book VII

1 – External things are acquired and safeguarded by virtue.

4 – A city that is too small will lack capacity to act a certain way, while a city that is too big will be in poor condition.

8 - Minimal requirements of the city

9 - I can’t tell if Aristotle is saying that farmers, mechanical craftsmen, and market people should not be citizens because he says that these are not the lives most conducive to virtue.

10 – Aristotle suggests that everything has been discovered infinitely many times. 

11 - Geographical placement of the city
12 - Buildings and areas of the city

13 – Necessity is good like retribution, but it would be more choiceworthy for a city to have no need for it.

Saying that external things cause happiness is like giving credit for beautiful harp playing to the harp rather than the person playing.

14 – Necessary action is for the sake of beautiful action.

16 – having children

17 – raising children


3 - Greeks were customarily educated in letters, gymnastics, music, drawing.

Education in music is education in terms of learning how to best to spend leisure time. Music is suitable for leisure time because it is suited for freedom, and it is beautiful.

5 – Music education habituates people to a capacity to enjoy things properly.

Within music is a true imitation of a state of character such as anger and courage.

6 – Aristotle has a negative opinion of professional musicians. He suggests that performers act for the sake of others and seek to please spectators primarily. But it is interesting how he is basically directly considering second headedness.

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23 hours ago, Eiuol said:

10 – Aristotle suggests that everything has been discovered infinitely many times. 

Given the context of when he says this, I don't think he means this literally. The idea seems to be that if existence is eternal, then there can be infinitely many earlier civilizations. So given the capacities of man, knowledge would be inevitably discovered multiple times even if those civilizations have been long gone. This is very similar to Nietzsche's eternal recurrence. It isn't a metaphysical thesis, but what would happen if people are thrown into the same situation with the same knowledge multiple times for eternity. 

Edited by Eiuol
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