Aristotle’s ‘Politics’: A Reader’s Guide

Swanson, J. Aristotle’s ‘Politics’: A Reader’s Guide. Continuum Press, 2009


” Related to the subject of Aristotle on natural justice and nature generally, is the disputed unity of his corpus. Aristotle wrote a number of works on a number of subjects and maintains that different degrees of precision are obtainable about each subject: physics, logic, biology and metaphysics surpass ethics, politics and rhetoric by that measure. At the same time, each subject implicates nature, indicating their connectedness or unity. Yet nature, by virtue of being itself a plurality, appears not to meet the requirements of the new ability that Aristotle establishes and is logico-metaphysical works,  namely, categorizability or classifiability:  that which forms a class or category or a one is knowable.

classes or categories of things are noble or comprehensible because they each preserve distinctive forms or species. Because classes preserve  different species, they constitute separate subjects of study or bodies of knowledge and thus require separate methods or sciences to be known: “things which differ in genus have no means of passing into each other, and are more widely distant, and are not comparable.” As an unclassifiable plurality, nature seems to lack a science of its own and thus seems  hopelessly on knowable, incomprehensible.

On the other hand, the very fact that Aristotle refers to nature, often frequently, in his various sorts of work, induces consideration of the nature of the natural plurality; Ford appears to comprehend, join, or relate in some way the various branches of study.”