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The Politics (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Aristotle , R. F. Stalley , the late Sir Ernest Barker
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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The Politics (Oxford World's Classics) The Politics (Oxford World's Classics) 5.0 out of 5 stars (5)
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Book Description

5 Mar 1998 Oxford World's Classics
The Politics is one of the most influential texts in the history of political thought, and it raises issues which still confront anyone who wants to think seriously about the ways in which human societies are organized and governed. The work of one of the world's greatest philosophers, it draws on Aristotle's own great knowledge of the political and constitutional affairs of the Greek cities. By examining the way societies are run - from households to city states - Aristotle establishes how successful constitutions can best be initiated and upheld. For this edition Sir Ernest Barker's fine translation, which has been widely used for nearly half a century, has been extensively revised to meet the needs of the modern reader. The accessible introduction and clear notes by R F Stalley examine the historical and philosophical background of the work and discuss its significance for modern political thought.

Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition of Revised edition edition (5 Mar 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192833936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192833938
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,121,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"Barker's translation has been given new life."--Polis

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Giant in Political Thought 6 Aug 2011
By Antonis
Few minds have stood the test of time as much as Aristotle's has. One of the greatest philosophers that have ever lived, he sets out to explain and analyse the political processes of his times in the classic treatise we know simply as "Politics".

Reading Politics today brings out the ever-lasting debates of political association to the surface. Aristotle seeks out to explain the ideal constitution by examining the already existing constitutions of ancient Greece. He divides them into oligarchy, aristocracy, democracy, constitutional government (polity), royalty and tyranny, emphasizing the need of specific constitutions for specific people. It is often argued that Western political philosophy is the everlasting debate between Plato and Aristotle - between the idea of a universal ideal political system and the counter-argument of the need of different political systems associated with different social and cultural factors and already existing political systems.

Aristotle's analysis puts forward ideas that were examined in detail again only during and after the Enlightenment period. One will find ideas such as the tyranny of the majority, the connection between the rise of revolutionary activity and the rise of poverty, and the need of a strong middle class to maintain social and political stability, being traced back to Aristotle and this specific text. The significance of Aristotle's work is enormous, for this, together with Plato's Republic, is the true basis of all Western political philosophy.

Some things found in the Politics are of course very outdated.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort... 23 Nov 2004
Aristotle was an important thinker, born in 384 BCE at Stagirus (a Greek colony), who is considered by many the founder of the realist tradition in Philosophy. He wrote many noteworthy books, among which "The Politics" stands out. "The Politics" is one of the first books I read at university, and even though it took me a lot of time to read it, I ended up being grateful to the professor that included it as obligatory reading material for History of Political Ideas I :)
In "The Politics", the author begins by analyzing the human being, that is in his opinion a political animal by nature. Afterwards, he explains what are, for him, the origins of the polis: family, small village and then, polis. Aristotle says that even though the polis is the last chronologically, it is all the same the most important, because it is autarchic. The polis (not exactly like our states, but similar to them in some aspects) is a natural community, because it answers to something that human beings need. Only in the polis will men find perfection, only there will they be completely human. Aristotle distinguishes between citizens and non-citizens (the vast majority), and points out that only citizens have political rights. The author delves in many other themes, for example the causes of revolution, the good and bad forms of government, and the "ideal" form of government. What is more, he also considers several constitutions, and talks about the adequate education that forms good citizens for the polis.
Now, why should you read a book that was written many centuries ago and that on top of that isn't especially easy to read?. The answer is quite simple: "The Politics" is worth it.
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59 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Politics 20 Oct 2001
By A Customer
I'm not a philosopher or philosophy student, but I like The Politics a lot -- some of it. I think what I find boring in the book is what Aristotle found most interesting: the analysis of different types of constitution, which was best, the flaws of each and so on. To my pragmatic mind this seems a strange interest. You live under a certain constitution, and it has flaws and benefits to a greater or lesser degree, and that's it! What does it matter that another constitution is better or worse; or that one can imagine a better or worse constitution! I must say that Aristotle's obsession with the mean seems bonkers to me. "The law is the mean" seems more helpful to me than his application of this idea to ethics. He must have been a passionate man, subject to violent extremes of behaviour.
Aside from this idee fixe -- the doomed philosophical wish to regulate human behaviour -- Aristotle seems immensely sensible. I love his characterisation of wealth as a tool, or the comment that an official becomes worthy of respect when they become an official (which applies to royalty too), or the comment that the drawback of communal ownership is that people take less care of things owned by many people than things they own themselves, or the comment that it s pleasant to have money because only then can we make a gift of it. Aristotle seems much more aware of human nature than Plato is, although I enjoy The Republic, not as a practical plan of a state but as an immense artistic creation, like a novel or a play, or (because of the depth of the thought) like an author's whole oeuvre: Shakespeare or Dickens or Henry James.
My favourite part of The Politics is the last two books, on education. It's astonishing to learn of the importance the Greeks attached to music. When did music become a pastime for us?
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