Saturday, August 22, 2020

How Practical Was Aristotle’s Politics?

Aristotle defines politics as a practical science. But was he aware of the practical political realities of his time? He was living in Athens, in a time of tumult. Yet he does not talk about the threat to Athens from Macedon. In his work on political theory Politics, Aristotle mentions Macedon twice, both times in a non-political context. Where did his loyalties lie: Athens or Macedon? He had lived and worked in Plato’s Athenian Academy for more than twenty years, but left Athens in 343 BC to become a tutor to the prince of Macedon, Alexander. Four years later, in 339 BC, Athens was conquered by King Philip II of Macedon. How did Aristotle feel about the conquest of Athens? Did he support the Macedonian takeover of Athens or did he oppose it? Plato is often seen as an idealist, but he displays a better awareness of the political realities in some of his dialogues than Aristotle, who is often seen as a realist, does in his own works.

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