The Politics- Slavery.

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Reply Sat 24 May, 2008 04:55 pm
Here are a couple of extracts from Aristotle's 'The Politics'; I have chosen two extracts which highlight the mans stance on slavery.
The first extract is entitled- in my copy of The Politics, 'The Two Pairs' and it has many rich and suggestive ideas related to the two pairs of husband/wife and master/slave.
The second extract is entitled 'The Slave as a Tool' and in this chapter Aristotle goes on to describe how he sees slaves as a piece of property, a part that belongs to another and above of all a part that belongs to its master.


Aristotle The Politics, Book 1 Part II- Translated by Benjamin Jowett
http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/politics.1.one.html

"...that which can foresee by the exercise of mind is by nature intended to be lord and master, and that which can with its body give effect to such foresight is a subject, and by nature a slave; hence master and slave have the same interest. Now nature has distinguished between the female and the slave. For she is not niggardly, like the smith who fashions the Delphian knife for many uses; she makes each thing for a single use, and every instrument is best made when intended for one and not for many uses. But among barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of slaves, male and female."

Aristotle The Politics, Book 1 Part IV- Translated by T. A. Sinclair
http://www.penguinclassics.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780140444216,00.html

"Tools may be animate as well as inanimate for instance, a ships captain uses a lifeless rudder, but a living man for watch; for a servant is, from the point of view of his craft, categorized as one of its tools. So any piece of property can be regarded as a tool enabling a man to live, and his property is an assemblage f such tool; a slave is a sort of living piece of property; and like any other servant is a tool in charge of other tools. For suppose that every tool we had could perform its task, either at our bidding or itself perceiving the need."


Like many people I was quick to dismiss the ideas as foolish with age, but a few observations I made after reading have led me to conclude differently. I believe there are 'masters' and 'slaves', however I would not maintain these are natural positions but still are, as Aristotle suggests, necessary for smooth labor-system operation.

I considered the situations under which I would agree to be a slave and I would be easily convinced with social immunity, shelter etc. And I explored situations under which a slave and master relationship can be a healthy one, maybe one of friendship.

The slave does not have to life in destitution; he can live like masters child would live, in master's lap of luxury. What is important is accepting ones position and...

Choosing between joining a winning team as a valued player or making your own team to compete.

Let us make unfree labor, chosen-unfree labor by way of conviction.

Also I looked back at a single quote which is later on in the chapter 'The Slave as a Tool'-
'Any human being that by nature belongs not to himself but to another is by nature a slave'

I had related this back to some existentialist ideas about loosing ones self to the masses; when I go to work I act differently to when I'm at home, and when I'm at home I act different to when I'm at my friends house etc. We all have minor split/multiple personalities, but it is the true individuals who know the importance of not losing the real self to the pressures of society- home, work, friends etc. By knowing who you really are you are able to choose as your true self, therefore making the right choice. Those who lose themselves to social pressures are human beings that by nature belong not to themselves; they can not make real personal choices and therefore would be much better utilised as low-paid labor for those who know how to choose for themselves. This second idea is a far more unethical approach to unfree-labor but I think it demonstrates that there are different angles to be considered here.

How unethical am I being? How wrong is Aristotle? Is slavery ever right? Can we not work out a system that allows the slave/master relationship to bloom with happiness on both parts?

Dan.


 
urangutan
 
Reply Sun 25 May, 2008 04:39 am
@de budding,
I have wracked my brain and I have tried to respond to this all day. Each time I write something I continue to feel as though I am simply restating your statements. Whether in attack or defense of this I still see the horses face looking back at me but with all paintings that the face is always looking at you, one can always find the view they built the feature on.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 11:15 am
@urangutan,
I have been taking my time before I made this post in this topic. I have looked up a few things, but not found everything I was looking for unfortunately. That doesn't really matter though. I think that some of the thoughts you have n this, de budding, are very nice. They are not at all like Aristotle's though.

For the information of everybody except de budding I would like to say that de budding and I have agreed on two topics. De budding has started a topic on Aristotle's politics and I am going to open a topic on Aristotle's ethics. The idea is to nuance both our opinions and shine more than one light on the matters at hand.

I think wat is going to be a real "difficulty" in this topic is the seperation between politics and ethics. All posters are going to have to take a deep breath and try not to run over to ethical arguments. The difference is that ethics are the "guidelines" to live a "good" life and politics are the rules that have been set up to create a situation in which people can act (act-utilitarianismrule-utilitarianism) to act according to these guidelines.

I would like to start my case from this quote on legislators from the Ethica Nichomachea:

Legislators make their citizens good by habituation; this is the intention of every legislator, and those who do not carry it out fail of their object. This is what makes the difference between a good constitution and a bad one.
~Aristotle, Ethica Nichomachea.

My opening statement is that Aristotle's politics exist to make people act a certain way. This is done because of a certain "goal". I will not go into the discussion of what this "good" in the equasion is. That problematic discussion is reserved for my, still to create, topic on ethics.

A good question would be why people would have to be made to do anything if in fact, as de budding says, people have chosen a life as a slave (for instance).
 
de budding
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 12:54 pm
@Arjen,
Even the most empathetic, freedom-centered and individual-loving 'politics' are still going to be setting the stage for a specific form of state-existence and therefore employing some kind of control by which to mold the state into the ideal 'shape'.

Politics requires generalization, legislation, control, hierarchy etc. Which is why Hobbes was not wrong when he suggested that man required a 'social contract' to stop them murdering each other while they slept. So am I wrong to suggest that legislation is nothing more than an agreed contract between the individuals of a state, where in they agree to certain rules which they will follow providing everyone else does?



But this is a world away from the legislators described in Ethica Nichomachea, these men only enforce 'good' upon their citizens and if they don't they have failed.
Of course what is missing here is the acceptance of subjective good/evil, and it will be some years in philosophy before this emerges.

What is assumed is that there is 'good' to be forced upon the people and that it is not wrong to do so because what is being forced is good; any one who resists is evil.
Again this is why it might seem ok to Aristotle to enforce rather than contract.

So my closing statement is: It is the nature of politics to control and this control requires generalization, legislation, control, hierarchy etc. in order to keep peace and happiness while controlling and this is what is meant by 'good'. This is what excuses the enforcing and is 'why people would have to be made.' It the job of citizens to make the best of this situation, by for example reworking the principles of slavery to allow for unification within society.

I will defend Aristotle further by suggesting that he is the individuals politician; politics starts with the 'foundation' of the state- the individuals, and looks at how we, as individuals, organise ourselves into households- this is where slavery comes in, to allow a household to operate; even the poorest households will require some form of organic tool (slave), namely the ox- the poor man's slave.

Aristotle's politics recognizes the importance of a systems constituents and hence develops his politics upon those constituents.

Dan.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 02:29 pm
@de budding,
De budding, you could not be more wrong in several ways. I am going to try to cut your post up in several themes and reply to the themes in question. I am frst going to try to show where you are of different intent then Aristotle and then I am going to try and show something which I think you have not seen to conclude with a coutering of your closing statement, which I had expected by the way. It was the reason why I started the discussion at this point.

I am going to seperate the remark which you made about Hobbes. I do not think you know what you are talking about in that case. Very few do apparently. If you would like to discuss Hobbes do so in his subforum. If you would like to discuss social contracts, please feel free to create a topic somewhere. In this topic it will suffice to realise that a social contract consists of the willing interaction (or lack thereof, and therefore the possibility to choose not to interact) and law consists of forced interactions chosen by legislators and enforced by people paid by these legislators (such as police, prefectures, etc.). Laws are therefore the opposite of social contracts.

Quote:

Even the most empathetic, freedom-centered and individual-loving 'politics' are still going to be setting the stage for a specific form of state-existence and therefore employing some kind of control by which to mold the state into the ideal 'shape'.

I agree whole-heartedly. It is why I am an anarchist.

What you do not realise is that what you state here is the opposite of what Aristotle ment:
Quote:

It is an ethical part of the problem, but I will briefly elaborate. In ethics deontology and teleology is defined. Teleology is based on "goals" where deontology is based on "duty". What you describe above is based on "duty". Aristotle is always speaking of "goals", as my above quote on legislation shows (it was one of the reasons of picking exactly this quote). Aristotle, in this quote, uses the word "object", but I hope you can see that it means the same as the word "goal" in this instance. Aristotle always argues "goals" and never "duties". It becomes very apparent in his "rulebase" of virtues.

Quote:

What is assumed is that there is 'good' to be forced upon the people and that it is not wrong to do so because what is being forced is good; any one who resists is evil.
Again this is why it might seem ok to Aristotle to enforce rather than contract.

I do not think that it was an arbitrary decision to enforce. Enforcement was envisioned with a "goal" in mind (as the blackheart always has). The "goal" being creating a duality in society: good/evil; just/wrong.

Quote:

So my closing statement is: It is the nature of politics to control and this control requires generalization, legislation, control, hierarchy etc. in order to keep peace and happiness while controlling and this is what is meant by 'good'. This is what excuses the enforcing and is 'why people would have to be made.' It the job of citizens to make the best of this situation, by for example reworking the principles of slavery to allow for unification within society.

The end-goal Aristotle has in mind is called "Eudaimonia"; a certain blissfull delusion. We should keep such things for the ethical discussion.

My argument against Aristotle's state is that it directly contradicts what anybody would willfully choose. That is what the enforcement is for. Free choice contradicts central decisions. Perhaps we should look at why Aristotle exactly wants the central decision system enforced.

Proof of my above thoughts can be found in your statement:
Quote:

I will defend Aristotle further by suggesting that he is the individuals politician; politics starts with the 'foundation' of the state- the individuals, and looks at how we, as individuals, organise ourselves into households- this is where slavery comes in, to allow a household to operate; even the poorest households will require some form of organic tool (slave), namely the ox- the poor man's slave.

Aristotle's politics recognizes the importance of a systems constituents and hence develops his politics upon those constituents.

It indeed is true that Aristotle is taking into account the constituents of society. The "goal" is the utilisation of those constituents. The constituents are forced to play their part, just as the women in households were (and are) forced to play their part and just as the oxen are forced to play their parts. All are willfully forced to execute certain acts. The reason to force beings to that are "goals"; where the end-goal is "eudaimonia".

However, I do not think that ethical considerations have ever been a factor for the execution of laws. So, if ethics are no consideration, how do we judge a system of law?
-By seeing if the laws are fair (at least John Rawls states that in his work Justice as fairness). So; are the laws fair? Does everyone hae equal chances? Is there any form of fairness in the utilisation of the constituents?

-No.
 
de budding
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 04:12 pm
@Arjen,
Quote:
Even the most empathetic, freedom-centered and individual-loving 'politics' are still going to be setting the stage for a specific form of state-existence and therefore employing some kind of control by which to mold the state into the ideal 'shape'. I agree whole-heartedly. It is why I am an anarchist.


I wanna read your post a few times and make sure I have absorbed properly, so I'll just say thanks- thanks, and comment on your above quote for now:)

I always thought that the problem was population, I'll have to remind myself to find the quote in politics which talks about reaching self-sufficiency and describes going over this in a negative respect. I thought about this and decided that there would be a perfect population, it is the maximum amount of people that one person can remember, to ensure every one knows every one. My family has quite a fenland farming background and their simple contentment seems to be happiness, I just feel sad that we won't ever get the opportunity to try it and see what it is like to live in these perfect populations driven by self-sufficiency and no more.

But alas its never going to happen.

Dan.
 
AmericanPop
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 07:48 pm
@de budding,
Arjen,

Teleology is inseparable from the idea of linear time, a concept that is post-Christian. The Greek view of the universe was cyclical, that the material realm fell in and out of sync with 'nature' (the metaphysical realm of superlative purities).

This intelligible realm was structured by a monolithic reason existing independent of the individual. A perfect state would coincide this structured reason, or the 'nature' of stateness. When you say that "free choice contradicts central decisions" you assume the two are incompatible. I do not know your particular take on freedom but let me refresh you on Aristotle's:

Aristotle believed that freedom unguided by reason was no freedom at all. Is a barbarian who responds instinctively to every primitive desire truly free? No. If there is one monolithic structure of reason to be followed, an individual should act in accord with whatever his/her 'nature' stresses. And if reason is a truly comprehensive, synthesized, and non-contradicting 'Oneness' or 'Whole', a city that is in perfect syncronization with its nature will contain citizens that are in perfect syncronization with their natures. So if the 'nature of stateness' requires slaves for its hard labor, it is justified that there exist individuals whose nature is slaveness.

You may be under the impression, from empirical observation, that it is natural for human beings to resist authority. But remember that no 'Universal Homogenous State' (as Hegel would call it) has yet came into existence.

You may refute some of Aristotle's premises, such as the existence of an external intelligible realm, but this is the manner in which he himself understood his philosophy.
 
de budding
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 08:31 am
@AmericanPop,


The trouble I have had is that I agree wholeheartedly with you and can not refute what you say with regards to 'goals', teleology and the resulting constituent-enforcement which is implied by the goals, but I can press that anarchy would be worse and that group settling is necessary to obtain certain goals like self-sufficiency and self-defense- anarchy would challenge this.

It is my fear of the immoral, belligerent and inconsiderate that drives my urge for laws and order and I can't help but feel this must be a universal quality- no one wants to be robbed, raped, beaten or killed, and this is what anarchy invites. But alas I'm sure as soon as the law turns against me I would forget the protection it entails and realize I'm trapped, as is the man who is imprisoned for stealing from me.

So is this going to boil down to legislation and law? The moment a state decides to impose and enforce on the constituents we can assume it is because the constituents don't behave in a correct manner, so immediately law is going to represent a 'goal' which is not yet met; this is self-evident. I think the only answer is ethical law, based on survey and majority consideration (some form of categorical imperatives) - or even more outlandish techniques like multi-states where there are different ethical structures enforced to cater to different groups of moral taste. But, as I drift into thinking about ethical law I realize that it was Aristotle's strikingly ethical and humanistic approach to politics that wooed me in the first place; "a state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange...Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship" - Aristotle

Aristotle sees the state as a collection of citizens or inhabitants who choose to reside there because they have something in common with each other, an urge for the good life. It is Aristotle's politics which incorporates happiness via virtue, true friendship*, humbleness and appreciation. But yes it is still a goal no matter how romantic it seems- alas I can only reiterate that political existence simply involves enduring laws and moral institutions, and that our other option is anarchy.

*True friendship to Aristotle was two bodies as one, a completely mutual and equally beneficial match made in heaven, how sweet Smile.

But I am going to go in circles, I think some one will have to briefly illuminate the alternative options like anarchy so I can see how they might work without resulting in me being murdered and robbed as I lye lifeless on the floor with no service to inform my family who can only assume I'm missing without state records to confirm my death.

Dan,
 
Arjen
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 12:29 pm
@de budding,
AmericanPop, Smile
AmericanPop wrote:
Arjen,
Teleology is inseparable from the idea of linear time, a concept that is post-Christian. The Greek view of the universe was cyclical, that the material realm fell in and out of sync with 'nature' (the metaphysical realm of superlative purities).

I assume that you are referring to the causality in the acting towards "goals". That is an interesting point, it does not, however, mean that Aristotle did not think in this manner. We could only understand it at a later point in time as being related to time.

Quote:

This intelligible realm was structured by a monolithic reason existing independent of the individual. A perfect state would coincide this structured reason, or the 'nature' of stateness. When you say that "free choice contradicts central decisions" you assume the two are incompatible. I do not know your particular take on freedom but let me refresh you on Aristotle's:

Aristotle believed that freedom unguided by reason was no freedom at all. Is a barbarian who responds instinctively to every primitive desire truly free? No. If there is one monolithic structure of reason to be followed, an individual should act in accord with whatever his/her 'nature' stresses. And if reason is a truly comprehensive, synthesized, and non-contradicting 'Oneness' or 'Whole', a city that is in perfect syncronization with its nature will contain citizens that are in perfect syncronization with their natures. So if the 'nature of stateness' requires slaves for its hard labor, it is justified that there exist individuals whose nature is slaveness.

The popular objection to this remark is:

Who does Aristotle think he is, first saying people do not reason and then offering to help them reason for them. Is he totalitarian like Adolf Hitler?

Quote:

You may be under the impression, from empirical observation, that it is natural for human beings to resist authority. But remember that no 'Universal Homogenous State' (as Hegel would call it) has yet came into existence.

The thing of it is that I am not under any impression, nor have I ever been under any impression. Anybody falling in line under any government is acting "under impressions" of what is defined as "good" by this state. Aristotle is merely taking the first unsure steps to ensure dominance for a very small elite. So, being under no impression one has to look at the question if what one is doing will ensure survival (or continuation); is that what is done something that one can will everyone will do? This as opposed to following the candy of which the impression exists "is good". These are ethical considerations though and should be reserved for another topic. This topic is about law.

Quote:

You may refute some of Aristotle's premises, such as the existence of an external intelligible realm, but this is the manner in which he himself understood his philosophy.

Your remarks above are not what Aristotle thought.

I would appreciate it if you would keep ths topic for questions about law instead of questions on ethics. If you are willing to refute Aristotle's ideas on law or my thoughts on Aristotle's ideas about law you are welcome, but please keep the ethics out of this topic.



de_budding wrote:


There is no more wrong then claiming black is white.

Quote:

The trouble I have had is that I agree wholeheartedly with you and can not refute what you say with regards to 'goals', teleology and the resulting constituent-enforcement which is implied by the goals, but I can press that anarchy would be worse and that group settling is necessary to obtain certain goals like self-sufficiency and self-defense- anarchy would challenge this.

I do not understand who you place all that in anarchy. "Goals" can only exist if facilitated by "values". "Values" are decided upon. For instance by "laws" or predications of "good" and "bad" as Aristotle states legislators are for. Self-defence is not needed without such "states".

Quote:

It is my fear of the immoral, belligerent and inconsiderate that drives my urge for laws and order and I can't help but feel this must be a universal quality- no one wants to be robbed, raped, beaten or killed, and this is what anarchy invites. But alas I'm sure as soon as the law turns against me I would forget the protection it entails and realize I'm trapped, as is the man who is imprisoned for stealing from me.

I think you are misunderstanding the point.
- Robbers value money (because the states has decreed it of financial worth).
- Rapists value sex or women (because these are status symbols in the social interactions the rapists live in...the state decrees it as such)
- Aggrisive people ("beaters....") value strength (because the system they live in avlues dominance..the state again).
- Killers value their own dealing more than the lives of others (Because a certain value is placed on their own dealings, also a form of dominance may be present. Both of which are derived from the rules of state).

Without forms of states none of this would exist. The first forms of state were social contracts where absolute freedom of choice still existed; force and oppression were introduced with law.

Quote:

So is this going to boil down to legislation and law?
[/SIZE]
That is what the topic is about, isn't it?

[quote]
The moment a state decides to impose and enforce on the constituents we can assume it is because the constituents don't behave in a correct manner, so immediately law is going to represent a 'goal' which is not yet met; this is self-evident. I think the only answer is ethical law, based on survey and majority consideration (some form of categorical imperatives) - or even more outlandish techniques like multi-states where there are different ethical structures enforced to cater to different groups of moral taste.
[/quote]
That is exactly what law does. That is how it forces people into brutalising others.

[quote]
But, as I drift into thinking about ethical law I realize that it was Aristotle's strikingly ethical and humanistic approach to politics that wooed me in the first place; "a state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange...Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship" - Aristotle
[/quote]
Noble actions in the sense of aristocratic actions. This is completely truthfull I think. Aristotle was an Aristocrat. He needed "the state" do make others do his bidding.

Quote:

Aristotle sees the state as a collection of citizens or inhabitants who choose to reside there because they have something in common with each other, an urge for the good life. It is Aristotle's politics which incorporates happiness via virtue, true friendship*, humbleness and appreciation. But yes it is still a goal no matter how romantic it seems- alas I can only reiterate that political existence simply involves enduring laws and moral institutions, and that our other option is anarchy.

I think that people choose to live in states because they have been bought. Politcal existence involves being brutalised into accepting the states judgements. The other options is Anarchy. I think that you are confusing anarchy with nihilism though. Nihilism being a defining of rules as "not good" and anarchy being not following "rules"; often giving off an irratic impression, while it is more constant and logical than rules.

Quote:

*True friendship to Aristotle was two bodies as one, a completely mutual and equally beneficial match made in heaven, how sweet Smile.

I think in that passage Aristotle was setting the scene for a caste system where peope of one caste cannot interact on an equal base with people of another caste.

Quote:

But I am going to go in circles, I think some one will have to briefly illuminate the alternative options like anarchy so I can see how they might work without resulting in me being murdered and robbed as I lye lifeless on the floor with no service to inform my family who can only assume I'm missing without state records to confirm my death.

Dan,

You are right. We are going around in circles. Let us get back to the question of justice as fainess. Do you think Aristotle's laws are fair in the sense that they allow all members of the state the same possibilities within the system?
 
chad3006
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 01:48 pm
@Arjen,
I suspect that most people who justify slavery align themselves with the role of master. To know if a slave/master relationship is just in some way, we'd have to also examine the writings of slaves.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 08:17 pm
@chad3006,
chad3006 wrote:
I suspect that most people who justify slavery align themselves with the role of master. To know if a slave/master relationship is just in some way, we'd have to also examine the writings of slaves.

I agree on that. I would like to show the joke is on them by quoting Justin's signature though:

"By a divine paradox, wherever there is one slave there are two. So in the wonderful reciprocities of being, we can never reach the higher levels until all our fellows ascend with us." - Edwin Markham
 
chad3006
 
Reply Thu 29 May, 2008 08:41 am
@Arjen,
The Markham quote can be applied to anything really. It's kind of a Yin & Yang thing. Slave labor isn't free it's just a deferred cost. Cheap oil has a deferred cost as well.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Wed 1 Oct, 2008 06:49 pm
@chad3006,
I just finished this (again... don't ask) and again found myself disappointed.

It's hard to describe, but I'll try: I think that within the context in which "politics" was addressed, throughout all books, is so completely contingent upon the framework he knew (as that which existed at that time) that its utility, to us, is minimal. I realize this could easily be said of all writers, everywhere. But it has an especially-potent applicability to observations made on social structures.

Also, one of the things that makes a work timelessly valuable is its applicability over time. My view is that Aristotle indeed has many of these! It just struck me - over and over - that trying to shoehorn much of Politics into anything we can glean insight from - without having lived with him there - is problematic.


---------
 
Arjen
 
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 04:25 am
@Khethil,
I am glad you don't think it is applicable now, Khethil. It wasn't then either (to you). I was personally shocked by the simularities in which certain people still use the exact same tactics as were used in Aristotles time and were advocated by Aristotle.
 
 

 
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