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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter III
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter III Post by :Joe_D. Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :2398

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VII - Chapter III

ill now speak to those who, while they agree that a life of virtue
is most eligible, yet differ in the use of it addressing ourselves to
both these parties; for there are some who disapprove of all political
governments, and think that the life of one who is really free is
different from the life of a citizen, and of all others most eligible:
others again think that the citizen is the best; and that it is
impossible for him who does nothing to be well employed; but that
virtuous activity and happiness are the same thing. Now both parties
in some particulars say what is right, in others what is wrong, thus,
that the life of a freeman is better than the life of a slave is true,
for a slave, as a slave, is employed in nothing honourable; for the
common servile employments which he is commanded to perform have
nothing virtuous in them; but, on the other hand, it is not true that
a submission to all sorts of governments is slavery; for the
government of freemen differs not more from the government of slaves
than slavery and freedom differ from each other in their nature; and
how they do has been already mentioned. To prefer doing of nothing to
virtuous activity is also wrong, for happiness consists in action, and
many noble ends are produced by the actions of the just and wise. From
what we have already determined on this subject, some one probably may
think, that supreme power is of all things best, as that will enable a
man to command very many useful services from others; so that he who
can obtain this ought not to give it up to another, but rather to
seize it: and, for this purpose, the father should have no attention
or regard for the son, or the son for the father, or friend for
friend; for what is best is most eligible: but to be a member of the
community and be in felicity is best. What these persons advance might
probably be true, if the supreme good was certainly theirs who plunder
and use violence to others: but it is (1325b) most unlikely that it
should be so; for it is a mere supposition: for it does not follow
that their actions are honourable who thus assume the supreme power
over others, without they were by nature as superior to them as a man
to a woman, a father to a child, a master to a slave: so that he who
so far forsakes the paths of virtue can never return back from whence
he departed from them: for amongst equals whatever is fair and just
ought to be reciprocal; for this is equal and right; but that equals
should not partake of what is equal, or like to like, is contrary to
nature: but whatever is contrary to nature is not right; therefore, if
there is any one superior to the rest of the community in virtue and
abilities for active life, him it is proper to follow, him it is right
to obey, but the one alone will not do, but must be joined to the
other also: and, if we are right in what we have now said, it follows
that happiness consists in virtuous activity, and that both with
respect to the community as well as the individual an active life is
the happiest: not that an active life must necessarily refer to other
persons, as some think, or that those studies alone are practical
which are pursued to teach others what to do; for those are much more
so whose final object is in themselves, and to improve the judgment
and understanding of the man; for virtuous activity has an end,
therefore is something practical; nay, those who contrive the plan
which others follow are more particularly said to act, and are
superior to the workmen who execute their designs. But it is not
necessary that states which choose to have no intercourse with others
should remain inactive; for the several members thereof may have
mutual intercourse with each other; for there are many opportunities
for this among the different citizens; the same thing is true of every
individual: for, was it otherwise, neither could the Deity nor the
universe be perfect; to neither of whom can anything external
separately exist. Hence it is evident that that very same life which
is happy for each individual is happy also for the state and every
member of it.
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have now finished what was introductory to this subject, andconsidered at large the nature of other states, it now remains that Ishould first say what ought to be the establishment of a city whichone should form according to one's wish; for no good state can existwithout a moderate proportion of what is necessary. Many thingstherefore ought to be forethought of as desirable, but none of themsuch as are impossible: I mean relative to the number of citizens andthe extent of the territory: for as other artificers, such as theweaver and the shipwright, ought to have such materials as are fit fortheir
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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
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