Aristotle’s Political Theory

Mulgan, Richard. Aristotle’s Political Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.

From Review:

“Mulgan  as an article and orderly Van Aristotle himself. He begins with the human good and as with political disorder (no cynicism is intended); in between, the nature of political science, the polis, the household, constitutions, the ideal state and the polity—an arrangement that takes books 7 and 8 before 5 and 6. Not all books are given equal coverage: one third of the way through we are still on book 1 (perhaps the least self-explanatory of the folks),  whereas there is little on 2.

On each topic Mulgan  summarizes Aristotle’s views, discusses, explains  and where necessary clarifies them, criticizes those which he believes to be missed taken or invalid, and draws attention to what is still of value. The job admirably done: he steers a moderate and balanced course between uncritical acceptance and ill tempered abuse. To explain the central concepts, he refers the reader to Aristotle’s other works—not only the Ethics  but Metaphysics   on freedom and on wholes and heaps, Hist Anim.  on the politial animal, Phsyics on priority, and Rhetoric on tyranny  and the administration of law, not unlike Morral  he austerely refrains from citing  parallels from other Greek authors, except where reference to Plato is unavoidable.  Discussion and criticism often proceed by Aristotle’s own method of drawing distinctions: for example between and inclusive and exclusive meaning of panelists; 2 senses of political; 3 ways in which the individual may be subordinate to the state; 4 kinds of organic theory of the state; the relative and intrinsic merits of an absolute ruler; and 2 ways in which constitutions may be opposite. These distinctions are always illuminating. On the legal enforcement of morality, racial superiority and educational authoritarianism, the author is not content merely to say that Aristotle  is mistaken, but goes on to show what led him to hold such beliefs.”

– Review from The Classical Review, Vol 32, Issue 1.