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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter V
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter V Post by :Jeff_Casmer Category :Nonfictions Author :Aristotle Date :January 2011 Read :672

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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter V

respect to music we have already spoken a little in a doubtful
manner upon this subject. It will be proper to go over again more
particularly what we then said, which may serve as an introduction to
what any other person may choose to offer thereon; for it is no easy
matter to distinctly point out what power it has, nor on what accounts
one should apply it, whether as an amusement and refreshment, as sleep
or wine; as these are nothing serious, but pleasing, and the killers
of care, as Euripides says; for which reason they class in the same
order and use for the same purpose all these, namely, sleep, wine, and
music, to which some add dancing; or shall we rather suppose that
music tends to be productive of virtue, having a power, as the
gymnastic exercises have to form the body in a certain way, to
influence the manners so as to accustom its professors to rejoice
rightly? or shall we say, that it is of any service in the conduct of
life, and an assistant to prudence? for this also is a third property
which has been attributed to it. Now that boys are not to be
instructed in it as play is evident; for those who learn don't play,
for to learn is rather troublesome; neither is it proper to permit
boys at their age to enjoy perfect leisure; for to cease to improve is
by no means fit for what is as yet imperfect; but it may be thought
that the earnest attention of boys in this art is for the sake of that
amusement they will enjoy when they come to be men and completely
formed; but, if this is the case, why are they themselves to learn it,
and not follow the practice of the kings of the Medes and Persians,
who enjoy the pleasure of music by hearing others play, and being
shown its beauties by them; for of necessity those must be better
skilled therein who make this science their particular study and
business, than those who have only spent so much time at it as was
sufficient just to learn the principles of it. But if this is a reason
for a child's being taught anything, they ought also to learn the art
of cookery, but this is absurd. The same doubt occurs if music has a
power of improving the manners; for why should they on this account
themselves learn it, and not reap every advantage of regulating the
passions or forming a judgment (1339b) on the merits of the
performance by hearing others, as the Lacedaemonians; for they,
without having ever learnt music, are yet able to judge accurately
what is good and what is bad; the same reasoning may be applied if
music is supposed to be the amusement of those who live an elegant and
easy life, why should they learn themselves, and not rather enjoy the
benefit of others' skill. Let us here consider what is our belief of
the immortal gods in this particular. Now we find the poets never
represent Jupiter himself as singing and playing; nay, we ourselves
treat the professors of these arts as mean people, and say that no one
would practise them but a drunkard or a buffoon. But probably we may
consider this subject more at large hereafter. The first question is,
whether music is or is not to make a part of education? and of those
three things which have been assigned as its proper employment, which
is the right? Is it to instruct, to amuse, or to employ the vacant
hours of those who live at rest? or may not all three be properly
allotted to it? for it appears to partake of them all; for play is
necessary for relaxation, and relaxation pleasant, as it is a medicine
for that uneasiness which arises from labour. It is admitted also that
a happy life must be an honourable one, and a pleasant one too, since
happiness consists in both these; and we all agree that music is one
of the most pleasing things, whether alone or accompanied with a
voice; as Musseus says, "Music's the sweetest joy of man;" for which
reason it is justly admitted into every company and every happy life,
as having the power of inspiring joy. So that from this any one may
suppose that it is necessary to instruct young persons in it; for all
those pleasures which are harmless are not only conducive to the final
end of life, but serve also as relaxations; and, as men are but rarely
in the attainment of that final end, they often cease from their
labour and apply to amusement, with no further view than to acquire
the pleasure attending it. It is therefore useful to enjoy such
pleasures as these. There are some persons who make play and amusement
their end, and probably that end has some pleasure annexed to it, but
not what should be; but while men seek the one they accept the other
for it; because there is some likeness in human actions to the end;
for the end is pursued for the sake of nothing else that attends it;
but for itself only; and pleasures like these are sought for, not on
account of what follows them, but on account of what has gone before
them, as labour and grief; for which reason they seek for happiness in
these sort of pleasures; and that this is the reason any one may
easily perceive. That music should be pursued, not on this account
only, but also as it is very serviceable during the hours of
relaxation from labour, probably no (1340a) one doubts; we should also
inquire whether besides this use it may not also have another of
nobler nature--and we ought not only to partake of the common pleasure
arising from it (which all have the sensation of, for music naturally
gives pleasure, therefore the use of it is agreeable to all ages and
all dispositions); but also to examine if it tends anything to improve
our manners and our souls. And this will be easily known if we feel
our dispositions any way influenced thereby; and that they are so is
evident from many other instances, as well as the music at the Olympic
games; and this confessedly fills the soul with enthusiasm; but
enthusiasm is an affection of the soul which strongly agitates the
disposition. Besides, all those who hear any imitations sympathise
therewith; and this when they are conveyed even without rhythm or
verse. Moreover, as music is one of those things which are pleasant,
and as virtue itself consists in rightly enjoying, loving, and hating,
it is evident that we ought not to learn or accustom ourselves to
anything so much as to judge right and rejoice in honourable manners
and noble actions. But anger and mildness, courage and modesty, and
their contraries, as well as all other dispositions of the mind, are
most naturally imitated by music and poetry; which is plain by
experience, for when we hear these our very soul is altered; and he
who is affected either with joy or grief by the imitation of any
objects, is in very nearly the same situation as if he was affected by
the objects themselves; thus, if any person is pleased with seeing a
statue of any one on no other account but its beauty, it is evident
that the sight of the original from whence it was taken would also be
pleasing; now it happens in the other senses there is no imitation of
manners; that is to say, in the touch and the taste; in the objects of
sight, a very little; for these are merely representations of things,
and the perceptions which they excite are in a manner common to all.
Besides, statues and paintings are not properly imitations of manners,
but rather signs and marks which show the body is affected by some
passion. However, the difference is not great, yet young men ought not
to view the paintings of Pauso, but of Polygnotus, or any other
painter or statuary who expresses manners. But in poetry and music
there are imitations of manners; and this is evident, for different
harmonies differ from each other so much by nature, that those who
hear them are differently affected, and are not in the same
disposition of mind when one is performed as when another is; the one,
for instance, occasions grief 13406 and contracts the soul, as the
mixed Lydian: others soften the mind, and as it were dissolve the
heart: others fix it in a firm and settled state, such is the power of
the Doric music only; while the Phrygian fills the soul with
enthusiasm, as has been well described by those who have written
philosophically upon this part of education; for they bring examples
of what they advance from the things themselves. The same holds true
with respect to rhythm; some fix the disposition, others occasion a
change in it; some act more violently, others more liberally. From
what has been said it is evident what an influence music has over the
disposition of the mind, and how variously it can fascinate it: and if
it can do this, most certainly it is what youth ought to be instructed
in. And indeed the learning of music is particularly adapted to their
disposition; for at their time of life they do not willingly attend to
anything which is not agreeable; but music is naturally one of the
most agreeable things; and there seems to be a certain connection
between harmony and rhythm; for which reason some wise men held the
soul itself to be harmony; others, that it contains it.
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A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter VI A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter VI

A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter VI
ill now determine whether it is proper that children should betaught to sing, and play upon any instrument, which we have beforemade a matter of doubt. Now, it is well known that it makes a greatdeal of difference when you would qualify any one in any art, for theperson himself to learn the practical part of it; for it is a thingvery difficult, if not impossible, for a man to be a good judge ofwhat he himself cannot do. It is also very necessary that childrenshould have some employment which will amuse them; for which reasonthe rattle of Archytas seems well

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

A Treatise On Government - BOOK VIII - Chapter IV
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