Chapter

Aristotle and the democratization of politics

Malcolm Schofield

in Episteme, etc.

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199696482
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738036 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696482.003.0014
Aristotle and the democratization of politics

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This chapter argues that Aristotle's very conception of the political sphere as political (and not the domain of a despot) is what dictates that citizens should have powers of deliberation and determination in the city's most important decisions, as members of the citizen body as a whole. The justification for their doing so is supplied by principled appeal to the wisdom of the collective body of citizens when assembled together — always provided that that body is not a corrupted dêmos that has itself become despotic. Ruling the city by his decision-making is what a citizen's job is as a citizen. What qualifies him for it — it always is him for Aristotle, as for the political universe he inhabited — is the modicum of virtue and wisdom which he brings (if he has it) to the deliberations of the political bodies of which he is a member. To that extent, Aristotle is a democrat — the sort of democrat with whom John Stuart Mill might have felt some affinity.

Keywords: Aristotle; political sphere; democrat; citizens

Chapter.  9548 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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