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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK II - Chapter II
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK II - Chapter II Post by :agape100 Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :2434

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK II - Chapter II

as a community of wives is attended with many other difficulties,
so neither does the cause for which he would frame his government in
this manner seem agreeable to reason, nor is it capable of producing
that end which he has proposed, and for which he says it ought to take
place; nor has he given any particular directions for putting it in
practice. Now I also am willing to agree with Socrates in the
principle which he proceeds upon, and admit that the city ought to be
one as much as possible; and yet it is evident that if it is
contracted too much, it will be no longer a city, for that necessarily
supposes a multitude; so that if we proceed in this manner, we shall
reduce a city to a family, and a family to a single person: for we
admit that a family is one in a greater degree than a city, and a
single person than a family; so that if this end could be obtained, it
should never be put in practice, as it would annihilate the city; for
a city does not only consist of a large number of inhabitants, but
there must also be different sorts; for were they all alike, there
could be no city; for a confederacy and a city are two different
things; for a confederacy is valuable from its numbers, although all
those who compose it are men of the same calling; for this is entered
into for the sake of mutual defence, as we add an additional weight to
make the scale go down. The same distinction prevails between a city
and a nation when the people are not collected into separate villages,
but live as the Arcadians. Now those things in which a city should be
one are of different sorts, and in preserving an alternate
reciprocation of power between these, the safety thereof consists (as
I have already mentioned in my treatise on Morals), for amongst
freemen and equals this is absolutely necessary; for all cannot govern
at the same time, but either by the year, or according to some other
regulation or time, by which means every one in his turn will be in
office; as if the shoemakers and carpenters should exchange
occupations, and not always be employed in the same calling. But as it
is evidently better, that these should continue to exercise their
respective trades; so also in civil society, where it is possible, it
would be better that the government should continue in the same hands;
but where it (1261b) is not (as nature has made all men equal, and
therefore it is just, be the administration good or bad, that all
should partake of it), there it is best to observe a rotation, and let
those who are their equals by turns submit to those who are at that
time magistrates, as they will, in their turns, alternately be
governors and governed, as if they were different men: by the same
method different persons will execute different offices. From hence it
is evident, that a city cannot be one in the manner that some persons
propose; and that what has been said to be the greatest good which it
could enjoy, is absolutely its destruction, which cannot be: for the
good of anything is that which preserves it. For another reaton also
it is clear, that it is not for the best to endeavour to make a city
too much one, because a family is more sufficient in itself than a
single person, a city than a family; and indeed Plato supposes that a
city owes its existence to that sufficiency in themselves which the
members of it enjoy. If then this sufficiency is so desirable, the
less the city is one the better.
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admitting that it is most advantageous for a city to be one asmuch as possible, it does not seem to follow that this will take placeby permitting all at once to say this is mine, and this is not mine(though this is what Socrates regards as a proof that a city isentirely one), for the word All is used in two senses; if it meanseach individual, what Socrates proposes will nearly take place; foreach person will say, this is his own son, and his own wife, and hisown property, and of everything else that may happen to belong to him,that it
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e then we propose to inquire what civil society is of all othersbest for those who have it in their power to live entirely as theywish, it is necessary to examine into the polity of those states whichare allowed to be well governed; and if there should be any otherswhich some persons have described, and which appear properlyregulated, to note what is right and useful in them; and when we pointout wherein they have failed, let not this be imputed to anaffectation of wisdom, for it is because there are great defects inall those which are already 'established, that I have
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