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Aristotle, Slavery, and the Entirety of Philosophy


In preparing to begin an entire series on Plato's longest dialogue the "Laws,” I use an almost casual comment by Aristotle in his discussion (or logos) on slavery in the Politics to discuss the way in which inquiry into the art of politics unfolds, and almost immediately (!), into the entirety of philosophy.  Among other things, I place great emphasis on the following in this discussion:


1.) The status of political philosophy in relation to philosophy or, alternatively, the most informative way of how the field of study known as political philosophy should be understood in comparison to the field of study known as philosophy.


2.) The meaning and significance of the life of man according to logos as Aristotle presents it, keeping in mind that the most definitive claims Aristotle makes about the nature of man is that (a) man is the only animal in possession of logos, (b) man is by nature a political animal, (c) man is by nature the most imitative of all the animals and, lastly, (d) man is by nature a coupling animal.


3.) The premises and, ultimately, the status of the analogy used by Aristotle to inquiry into slavery and, in particular, the existence of natural slaves along with what is required in order to justify rule over natural slaves either according to nature or contrary to nature.


4.) The subtleties of Aristotle's logos on slavery that allow for, and even invite the reader with dry comedy (!) to recognize, how it is that any discussion of rule unfolds into the enormous and fascinating question of a principle of order and possibly even harmony (!) within the entire cosmos and issuing most importantly from the relationship of both body and soul as seen in the most excellent of men.



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