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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK II - Chapter IV
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK II - Chapter IV Post by :edbuckson Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :2596

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK II - Chapter IV

des, those who contrive this plan of community cannot easily avoid
the following evils; namely, blows, murders involuntary or voluntary,
quarrels, and reproaches, all which it would be impious indeed to be
guilty of towards our fathers and mothers, or those who are nearly
related to us; though not to those who are not connected to us by any
tie of affinity: and certainly these mischiefs must necessarily happen
oftener amongst those who do not know how they are connected to each
other than those who do; and when they do happen, if it is among the
first of these, they admit of a legal expiation, but amongst the
latter that cannot be done. It is also absurd for those who promote a
community of children to forbid those who love each other from
indulging themselves in the last excesses of that passion, while they
do not restrain them from the passion itself, or those intercourses
which are of all things most improper, between a Father and a son, a
brother and a brother, and indeed the thing itself is most absurd. It
is also ridiculous to prevent this intercourse between the nearest
relations, for no other reason than the violence of the pleasure,
while they think that the relation of father and daughter, the brother
and sister, is of no consequence at all. It seems also more
advantageous for the state, that the husbandmen should have their
wives and children in common than the military, for there will be less
affection (1262b) among them in that case than when otherwise; for
such persons ought to be under subjection, that they may obey the
laws, and not seek after innovations. Upon the whole, the consequences
of such a law as this would be directly contrary to those things which
good laws ought to establish, and which Socrates endeavoured to
establish by his regulations concerning women and children: for we
think that friendship is the greatest good which can happen to any
city, as nothing so much prevents seditions: and amity in a city is
what Socrates commends above all things, which appears to be, as
indeed he says, the effect of friendship; as we learn from
Aristophanes in the Erotics, who says, that those who love one another
from the excess of that passion, desire to breathe the same soul, and
from being two to be blended into one: from whence it would
necessarily follow, that both or one of them must be destroyed. But
now in a city which admits of this community, the tie of friendship
must, from that very cause, be extremely weak, when no father can say,
this is my son; or son, this is my father; for as a very little of
what is sweet, being mixed with a great deal of water is imperceptible
after the mixture, so must all family connections, and the names they
go by, be necessarily disregarded in such a community, it being then
by no means necessary that the father should have any regard for him
he called a son, or the brothers for those they call brothers. There
are two things which principally inspire mankind with care and love of
their offspring, knowing it is their own, and what ought to be the
object of their affection, neither of which can take place in this
sort of community. As for exchanging the children of the artificers
and husbandmen with those of the military, and theirs reciprocally
with these, it will occasion great confusion in whatever manner it
shall be done; for of necessity, those who carry the children must
know from whom they took and to whom they gave them; and by this means
those evils which I have already mentioned will necessarily be the
more likely to happen, as blows, incestuous love, murders, and the
like; for those who are given from their own parents to other
citizens, the military, for instance, will not call them brothers,
sons, fathers, or mothers. The same thing would happen to those of the
military who were placed among the other citizens; so that by this
means every one would be in fear how to act in consequence of
consanguinity. And thus let us determine concerning a community of
wives and children.
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We proceed next to consider in what manner property should beregulated in a state which is formed after the most perfect mode ofgovernment, whether it should be common or not; for this may beconsidered as a separate question from what had been determinedconcerning (1263a) wives and children; I mean, whether it is betterthat these should be held separate, as they now everywhere are, orthat not only possessions but also the usufruct of them should be incommon; or that the soil should have a particular owner, but that theproduce should be brought together and used as one common stock, assome nations at
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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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