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 The Politics Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

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The Politics: Novel Summary: Chapter 3

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In this last summary, Aristotle begins a new focus: the causes of rebellions and revolutions. Aristotle and his students presumably obtained this information when they studied the histories of the Mediterranean world's states. Revolution, Aristotle asserts, is caused by misuse of power or the perception of this misuse. Usually it's the lower classes that revolt against the aristocracy, when the poor no longer respect the superiority of the rich.
Next, Aristotle returns to the concept of government. He again establishes the fact that the best constitutions divide power between oligarchic and democratic factions, and have checks and balances between branches of government. Aristotle is particularly concerned that rulers in high office are prevented from abusing their authority. This can be accomplished through popular election and other means.
Since power is vested in those who carry arms, Aristotle asserts that the masses should bear arms, not to protect themselves from each other, but from the government. Here again, foreshadowing of the American constitution is evidenced.
Later, Aristotle criticizes Plato more heavily. He attacks Plato on grounds that his conclusions about politics and its causes and effects are too sweeping and simplified. Here, Aristotle, champion of common sense, points out that Plato is overly idealistic.
Next, the tutor of Alexander mentions a few more of his ideas concerning happiness and virtue-- namely his ideal city. Aristotle asserts that the man with the most developed sense of virtue and happiness is he that makes only a comfortable income, but doesn't engage in business, which is not conducive to a life of virtue. Too much or too little wealth takes man's mind off of true goodness. Here, again, Aristotle stresses the value and practicality of moderation. Secondly, Aristotle asserts that it's crucial that men engage in intellectual discourse with one another for recreation and relaxation; otherwise man's virtue has no means of cultivation. This is interesting to note: Aristotle believes that any individual who withdrawals from human contact is either an animal or a god.




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