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Thursday September 11, 2014

PHL 265 Introduction to Political Philosophy

Lecture 2
Relation between invididual and polis
- The polis is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the individual
- since the whole is of necessity prior to the part
i.e. the relationship of a hand to a body
- man is by nature a political animal
mans natural state to be in political communities
the human being can only fully develop and exercise his potentialities in a
political community (teleology: the nature of a thing is its end)
if there is a human being who is living outside of a political community, he is
either a beast or god (below status of ordinary human being or some sort of God)
human being needs to live in a community with other people in order to have a
flourishing life
almost everything you want to do has some connection with relationship to other
man alone has language; the power of speech is intended to set for the expedient
and inexpedient, and therefore likewise the just and unjust
justice and injustice rational ways of ordering group of human beings
a social instinct implanted in all men by nature
- If the human being is a creation of nature, and human nature is incomplete without the
polis, then polis is a creation of nature
City exists by nature
City inseparable from human nature
Cant imagine real human beings without political communities
Contrasts with hobbes: thinks of the city, commonwealth as an artificat; creation
created for convenience
The good of the polis
- every community is established with a view to some good
- The polis orginates in the bare needs of life, and continues in existence for the sake of the
good life
- A polis is nore a mere society, having common place, established for ht prevention of
mutural crime and for the sake of exchang e
These are conditions without which a polis cannot exist; but all of them together do not
constute a polis, which is a community
Two questions
1. Why is polis directed toward the good life?
- Might it not be possible for the polis to serve its function as a precondition of the
good life without being directed toward the good life?
2. What is the good life

PART III: the good life

Aristotless philosophy of human action
- Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at
some good
i.e. why did you enroll in college?
- Many goods, we observe, are subordinate to others
i.e. some people care about careers, because they want to make money,
some goods are instrumental others are subordinate to one another
the nature of the human good
this picture raises several questions
1. are the same things good for everyone? Or do different people have different goods?
2. Do we desire anything for its own sake? Thsat is, are there any ginal goods?
3. If there are ginal goods, are there many, or is there a single final good for which
everthing is desired?
4. Are there goods that, if attained, leave nothing left to be desired? That is, are any goods
These questions would appear to e most relevant to the science of politics, which is the science
or study concerned with the organization of all human affairs
Eudaimonia as the chief good
- both the general run of men and people of superior reginement say that [highest of all
goods achieveable by action] is happiness
- and they identify living well and doing well with being happy
- But with regard to what happiness they differ
the many
What does happiness really consist in?
- Happiness = living wel and doing well
- What is it for human being to live and do well?
- Generally, the good or well of something is thought to depend on the things function
Ie. The function of an eye is to see; thus, a good eye is to see well
- So perhaps knowing the function
What ist he characteristic activity of human life?
- What is life?
The activity of the soul
All living things have a soul
Therefore, we need to study different kinds of souls
Life of nutrition and growth: plants,

Life guided by perception: passions, desires, associate with non human animals i.e. horses, cats,
gods; not highest part of human soul; more to human being than just an animal
Life in accord with reason:
Happiness, reason, and virtue
- So, the function of the human being is life guided by reason
- To live well is to be well guided by reason
- This, then, is the virtue (or excellence) of a human being: to live in accord with reason
- Therefore, human happiness (living well) consists in acting virtuously, which is to say,
being guided, not by appetite alone
Happiness and other goods
- It follows that happiness cosnts not in pleasure, wealth, fame or power but in living
virtuously, which is to say, in accord with reason
- People who pursue those other goods thinking they bring happiness are mistaken
- But there is some truth to many of these common opinions
The virtuous persons life is pleasureable, because he takes pleasure in living
reasonable and his pleasures are not in conflict with one another
While happiness doe not consists in external goods like wealth, power and
friends, a certain measure of these goods is usually a precondition for happiness
How do people become virtuous?
- Argument and teaching are not powerful by themselves; those who live by passion do
not hear or understand them
- The soul or character must first be cultivated by meanas of habits for taking pleasure in
what is good and finding painful what is bad
- People who were brought up poorly, or who are of inferior natures, cannot be made
virtuous, but they can be forced to avoid shameful actions
The ultimate purpose and nature of law
- the ultimate purpose of law is to simulate men to virtue and urge them forward by the
motive of the noble, on the assumption that those who have been well advanced by t
a doctrine sometimes called perfectionism
- the nature of law the law has compulsive power, while it is at the same time a rule
proceeding from a sort of practical wisdom and reason
part IV: what is common in political community?
Three possibilities
The inhavitants of the plist must either have
1. all thngs in common
the polis as an individual
the communism of the republic

1. the members of the ruling class should not have private property or private houses. They
should share everything and somewhat like the Spartans live in barracks
2. like the Spartans, children should be raised in common
3. unlike Spartans, women of the ruling class should live the same way as men
4. unlike the Spartans, there should be no permanent pair bonding; no private families;t he
ruling class sitself should be one communal family
notice that platonic communism is grounded in concern for unity, not distributative fairness