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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter III
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter III Post by :dockrue Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :1683

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter III

There are four things which it is usual to teach children--reading,
gymnastic exercises, and music, to which (in the fourth place) some
add painting. Reading and painting are both of them of singular use
in life, and gymnastic exercises, as productive of courage. As to
music, some persons may doubt, as most persons now use it for the sake
of pleasure: but those who originally made it part of education did
it because, as has been already said, nature requires that we should
not only be properly employed, but to be able to enjoy leisure
honourably: for this (to repeat what I have already said) is of all
things the principal. But, though both labour and rest are
necessary, yet the latter is preferable to the first; and by all means
we ought to learn what we should do when at rest: for we ought not to
employ that time at play; for then play would be the necessary
business of our lives. But if this cannot be, play is more necessary
for those who labour than those who are at rest: for he who labours
requires relaxation; which play will supply: for as labour is attended
with pain and continued exertion, it is necessary that play
should be introduced, under proper regulations, as a medicine: for
such an employment of the mind is a relaxation to it, and eases with
pleasure. (1338a) Now rest itself seems to partake of pleasure, of
happiness, and an agreeable life: but this cannot be theirs who
labour, but theirs who are at rest; for he who labours, labours for
the sake of some end which he has not: but happiness is an end which
all persons think is attended with pleasure and not with pain: but
all persons do not agree in making this pleasure consist in the same
thing; for each one has his particular standard, correspondent to his
own habits; but the best man proposes the best pleasure, and that
which arises from the noblest actions. But it is evident, that to live
a life of rest there are some things which a man must learn and be
instructed in; and that the object of this learning and this
instruction centres in their acquisition: but the learning and
instruction which is given for labour has for its object other things;
for which reason the ancients made music a part of education; not as a
thing necessary, for it is not of that nature, nor as a thing useful,
as reading, in the common course of life, or for managing of a family,
or for learning anything as useful in public life. Painting also seems
useful to enable a man to judge more accurately of the productions of
the finer arts: nor is it like the gymnastic exercises, which
contribute to health and strength; for neither of these things do we
see produced by music; there remains for it then to be the employment
of our rest, which they had in view who introduced it; and, thinking
it a proper employment for freemen, to them they allotted it; as Homer
sings:

"How right to call Thalia to the feast:" and of some others he
says:

"The bard was call'd, to ravish every ear: "

and, in another place, he makes Ulysses say the happiest part of man's
life is

"When at the festal board, in order plac'd, They hear the song."

It is evident, then, that there is a certain education in which a
child may be instructed, not as useful nor as necessary, but as noble
and liberal: but whether this is one or more than one, and of what
sort they are, and how to be taught, shall be considered hereafter: we
are now got so far on our way as to show that we have the testimony of
the ancients in our favour, by what they have delivered down upon
education--for music makes this plain. Moreover, it is necessary to
instruct children in what is useful, not only on account of its being
useful in itself, as, for instance, to learn to read, but also as the
means of acquiring other different sorts of instruction: thus they
should be instructed in painting, not only to prevent their being
mistaken in purchasing pictures, or in buying or selling of vases, but
rather as it makes (1338b) them judges of the beauties of the human
form; for to be always hunting after the profitable ill agrees with
great and freeborn souls. As it is evident whether a boy should be
first taught morals or reasoning, and whether his body or his
understanding should be first cultivated, it is plain that boys should
be first put under the care of the different masters of the gymnastic
arts, both to form their bodies and teach them their exercises.

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those states which seem to take the greatest care of theirchildren's education, bestow their chief attention on wrestling,though it both prevents the increase of the body and hurts the form ofit. This fault the Lacedaemonians did not fall into, for they madetheir children fierce by painful labour, as chiefly useful to inspirethem with courage: though, as we have already often said, this isneither the only thing nor the principal thing necessary to attend to;and even with respect to this they may not thus attain their end; forwe do not find either in other animals, or other nations, that couragenecessarily attends the
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education is, and how children ought to be instructed, is whatshould be well known; for there are doubts concerning the business ofit, as all people do not agree in those things they would have a childtaught, both with respect to their improvement in virtue and a happylife: nor is it clear whether the object of it should be to improvethe reason or rectify the morals. From the present mode of educationwe cannot determine with certainty to which men incline, whether toinstruct a child in what will be useful to him in life; or what tendsto virtue, and what is excellent: for
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