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Politeia

Volume 1, Issue 3, Summer 2019

Helen Tsalla
Pages 45-67
DOI: 10.5840/politeia20191319

Aristotle on Political Norms and Monarchy

Constitutions differ in kind, according to Aristotle (Politics, III), and the perverted ones are posterior to the nondeviant ones. This paper interprets Aristotle’s treatment of monarchy in light of his distinction in Posterior Analytics (I) between the order of being (constitutional types) and the order of experience (existing constitutions). The paper moves from an analysis of political definitions (Politics, III) and their psychological implications to Aristotle’s analysis of kingship as a species of constitutional correctness. It becomes apparent that, when discussing the relation between a political community and the rule befitting it, Aristotle is consistently using cognates of potency (dunamis) whereby a form already present in a thing becomes the principle of formal actualization of another. Such a mutual relation between rulers and ruled and between their psychological powers sheds light on Aristotle’s inclusion of kingship among proper constitutions, even in the absence of shared governance, and to his willingness to suggest policies that preserve even tyrannies.

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