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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter I
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter I Post by :Frank_Harris Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :2878

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter I

He who proposes to make that inquiry which is necessary concerning
what government is best, ought first to determine what manner of
living is most eligible; for while this remains uncertain it will also
be equally uncertain what government is best: for, provided no
unexpected accidents interfere, it is highly probable, that those who
enjoy the best government will live the most happily according to
their circumstances; he ought, therefore, first to know what manner of
life is most desirable for all; and afterwards whether this life is
the same to the man and the citizen, or different. As I imagine that I
have already sufficiently shown what sort of life is best in my
popular discourses on that subject, I think I may very properly repeat
the same here; as most certainly no one ever called in question the
propriety of one of the divisions; namely, that as what is good,
relative to man, may be divided into three sorts, what is external,
what appertains to the body, and what to the soul, it is evident that
all these must conspire to make a man happy: for no one would say that
a man was happy who had no fortitude, no temperance, no justice, no
prudence; but was afraid of the flies that flew round him: nor would
abstain from the meanest theft if he was either hungry or dry, or
would murder his dearest friend for a farthing; and also was in every
particular as wanting in his understanding as an infant or an idiot.
These truths are so evident that all must agree to them; though some
may dispute about the quantity and the degree: for they may think,
that a very little virtue is sufficient for happiness; but for riches,
property, power, honour, and all such things, they endeavour to
increase them without bounds: but to such we reply, that it is easy to
prove from what experience teaches us in these cases, that these
external goods produce not virtue, but virtue them. As to a happy
life, whether it is to be found in pleasure or virtue or both, certain
it is, that those whose morals are most pure, and whose understandings
are best cultivated, will enjoy more of it, although their fortune is
but moderate than those do who own an exuberance of wealth, are
deficient in those; and this utility any one who reflects may easily
convince himself of; for whatsoever is external has its boundary, as a
machine, and whatsoever is useful in its excess is either necessarily
hurtful, or at best useless to the possessor; but every good quality
of the soul the higher it is in degree, so much the more useful it is,
if it is permitted on this subject to use the word useful as well as
noble. It is also very evident, that the accidents of each subject
take place of each other, as the subjects themselves, of which we
allow they are accidents, differ from each other in value; so that if
the soul is more noble than any outward possession, as the body, both
in itself and with respect to us, it must be admitted of course that
the best accidents of each must follow the same analogy. Besides, it
is for the sake of the soul that these things are desirable; and it is
on this account that wise men should desire them, not the soul for
them. Let us therefore be well assured, that every one enjoys as much
happiness as he possesses virtue and wisdom, and acts according to
their dictates; since for this we have the example of GOD Himself, WHO
BECAUSE SUCH IS HIS NATURE. For good fortune is something different
from happiness, as every good which depends not on the mind is owing
to chance or fortune; but it is not from fortune that any one is wise
and just: hence it follows, that that city is happiest which is the
best and acts best: for no one can do well who acts not well; nor can
the deeds either of man or city be praiseworthy without virtue and
wisdom; for whatsoever is just, or wise, or prudent in a man, the same
things are just, wise, and prudent in a city.

Thus much by way of introduction; for I could not but just touch upon
this subject, though I could not go through a complete investigation
of it, as it properly belongs to another question: let us at present
suppose so much, that a man's happiest life, both as an individual and
as a citizen, is a life of virtue, accompanied with those enjoyments
which virtue usually procures. If (1324a) there are any who are not
convinced by what I have said, their doubts shall be answered
hereafter, at present we shall proceed according to our intended

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter II A Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter II

A Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter II
It now remains for us to say whether the happiness of any individualman and the city is the same or different: but this also is evident;for whosoever supposes that riches will make a person happy, mustplace the happiness of the city in riches if it possesses them; thosewho prefer a life which enjoys a tyrannic power over others will alsothink, that the city which has many others under its command is mosthappy: thus also if any one approves a man for his virtue, he willthink the most worthy city the happiest: but here there are twoparticulars which require consideration, one of

A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter VIII A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter VIII

A Treatise On Government - BOOK VI - Chapter VIII
r what has been said I proceed next to treat particularly of themagistrates; of what nature they should be, how many, and for whatpurpose, as I have already mentioned: for without necessarymagistrates no state can exist, nor without those which contribute toits dignity and good order can exist happily: now it is necessary thatin small states the magistrates should be few; in a large one, many:also to know well what offices may be joined together, and what oughtto be separated. The first thing necessary is to establish properregulators in the markets; for which purpose a certain magistrateshould be appointed to inspect