Aristotle's totalitarian tendency (from a quote)?

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Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 09:09 am
In Aristotle's Politics, Book V, in part VIII, it says,
"And since innovations creep in through the private life of individuals also, there ought to be a magistracy which will have an eye to those whose life is not in harmony with the government, whether oligarchy or democracy or any other."
Does it mean that Aristotle approves extensive state survellance, like in the Orwellian state or the modern totalitarian institutions? Or does he mean something else different?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 10:54 am
@EquesLignite,
EquesLignite;70618 wrote:
In Aristotle's Politics, Book V, in part VIII, it says,
"And since innovations creep in through the private life of individuals also, there ought to be a magistracy which will have an eye to those whose life is not in harmony with the government, whether oligarchy or democracy or any other."
Does it mean that Aristotle approves extensive state survellance, like in the Orwellian state or the modern totalitarian institutions? Or does he mean something else different?


Hi,

Who really knows what Aristotle thought. Translations, interpretations all differ. But, at least from this quote, it sure sounds like he (or whoever interpreted it) felt that some people were better than others and knew better than others who will watch over others.

Humankind never changes while it is changing. Fascinating!

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 12:44 pm
@richrf,
richrf;70634 wrote:
Hi,

Who really knows what Aristotle thought. Translations, interpretations all differ. But, at least from this quote, it sure sounds like he (or whoever interpreted it) felt that some people were better than others and knew better than others who will watch over others.

Humankind never changes while it is changing. Fascinating!

Rich

Aren't some people better than others? Wasn't Albert Einstein better than Charles Manson. Or Winston Churchill better than Adolf Hitler?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 01:56 pm
@EquesLignite,
Remembering the situation in which Aristotle wrote, it might be difficult to extrapolate his words to fit more modern concepts; a magistracy is not the same as a state police, something unknown in his world. Moreover, it would require some consideration of the context of the passage to understand what "have an eye" to those not in "harmony" with the government meant for Aristotle.

If the OP could provide standard citation (Bekker numbers) of the passage as well as the translation quoted, it might be interesting to compare the text to different translations and to the original.
Regards,
John
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 02:51 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;70664 wrote:
Aren't some people better than others? Wasn't Albert Einstein better than Charles Manson. Or Winston Churchill better than Adolf Hitler?


Hi,

I guess it depends upon who you asked. Millions of Germans loved Hitler. Don't know what to make of that. Actually lots of people in the U.S had lots of nice things to say about him. Charles Manson had his followers. There are all kinds in this world.

As for me, I don't think of myself as being better than anyone else, though others may believe I am. I just seem myself as different in some ways and similar in other ways. To each his own. If you feel you are better than someone else, then that's fine with me. Let me know what happens when you tell that person that you are better than him/her.Smile

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 08:30 pm
@richrf,
richrf;70695 wrote:
Hi,

I guess it depends upon who you asked. Millions of Germans loved Hitler. Don't know what to make of that. Actually lots of people in the U.S had lots of nice things to say about him. Charles Manson had his followers. There are all kinds in this world.

As for me, I don't think of myself as being better than anyone else, though others may believe I am. I just seem myself as different in some ways and similar in other ways. To each his own. If you feel you are better than someone else, then that's fine with me. Let me know what happens when you tell that person that you are better than him/her.Smile

Rich


What difference does it make whether some people loved Hitler, or that Hitler was nice to dogs and to babies? Hitler killed millions of people, and made millions more suffer horribly. What has the way some people felt about Hitler to do with the evil he did?The only thing that may show is that those who admired Hitler were stupid or were evil themselves. I don't understand your argument. Do you?

I don't usually tell people I am better than they are. Sometimes they know it is true so there is no point in it. And with others, they would not understand why it was true. So, why bother? But people have different talents and capacities. Some people are more intelligent than others. Some people play chess better than others. Some people are better looking than others. There are all kinds of differences among people as everyone knows. It is nonsense to think that everyone is equally talented in all things. Why would anyone think so beats me.
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 09:09 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;70754 wrote:
I don't understand your argument. Do you?


No argument. Just observation.

Quote:
I don't usually tell people I am better than they are. Sometimes they know it is true so there is no point in it. And with others, they would not understand why it was true. So, why bother? But people have different talents and capacities. S


Yep, everyone is different. And everyone likes different things. Anyhow, that is how I look at it. Different strokes for different strokes. If you can figure out who is better, all power to you. :bigsmile:

Rich
 
EquesLignite
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 10:07 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;70683 wrote:
Remembering the situation in which Aristotle wrote, it might be difficult to extrapolate his words to fit more modern concepts; a magistracy is not the same as a state police, something unknown in his world. Moreover, it would require some consideration of the context of the passage to understand what "have an eye" to those not in "harmony" with the government meant for Aristotle.

If the OP could provide standard citation (Bekker numbers) of the passage as well as the translation quoted, it might be interesting to compare the text to different translations and to the original.
Regards,
John


What are the "Bekker numbers"? The translation I used is by Benjamin Jowett. The number of that passage on the book is Book V, 8, line 1313-1316. Don't know if that is the number needed to find this passage in original. Can you explain a little bit? Thanks a lot!
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 10:16 pm
@richrf,
richrf;70759 wrote:
No argument. Just observation.



Yep, everyone is different. And everyone likes different things. Anyhow, that is how I look at it. Different strokes for different strokes. If you can figure out who is better, all power to you. :bigsmile:

Rich


Wouldn't you agree that Bobby Fisher was a better chess player than you or I? We can figure that out simply by looking at the record of his chess accomplishments, and yours and mine. Or, that Albert Einstein was a better physicist than either you or I? Evidence. He won two Nobel prizes in physics, and we did not win even one. How about Tiger Woods and his prowess at the game of golf. Don't you really think he is better than you are at golf? Therefore there are some people who are better than other people at a great many things. Isn't that so. (Hell, there are, I suppose, some people who are better at logic and argumentation than others).
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 10:26 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;70765 wrote:
Isn't that so. (Hell, there are, I suppose, some people who are better at logic and argumentation than others).


Hi,

If you feel like you have to be better, fine. If you think other people are better, fine. If you think there is a concept of better. Fine. I don't. If it bothers you, I am sorry. You will have to somehow learn to live with it, because it is doubtful I am going to change my perspective any time soon.

I play chess. I took art classes. I play music. I embrace the concept of perspective. That is how I learned to play chess. Understanding the other persons perspective. Putting myself in my opponent's shoes.

Now, back to Aristotle and his perspective, and my perspective of what he wrote (or what someone translated and interpreted and said was Aristotle's perspective - or whatever).

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 10:48 pm
@richrf,
richrf;70767 wrote:
Hi,

If you feel like you have to be better, fine. If you think other people are better, fine. If you think there is a concept of better. Fine. I don't. If it bothers you, I am sorry. You will have to somehow learn to live with it, because it is doubtful I am going to change my perspective any time soon.

I play chess. I took art classes. I play music. I embrace the concept of perspective. That is how I learned to play chess. Understanding the other persons perspective. Putting myself in my opponent's shoes.

Now, back to Aristotle and his perspective, and my perspective of what he wrote (or what someone translated and interpreted and said was Aristotle's perspective - or whatever).

Rich


So does that mean you think that Bobby Fisher was a better chess player than you, or not? And, does that mean that you think that Einstein was a better physicist than you, or not? I don't think you got to that. Or, perhaps, by putting yourself into the shoes of others, you don't think at all? You know, there is a stage beyond open-mindedness by which you become empty-headed. You have to be careful not to confuse the two. What about Aristotle and perspectives?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2009 11:39 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;70769 wrote:
So does that mean you think that Bobby Fisher was a better chess player than you, or not? And, does that mean that you think that Einstein was a better physicist than you, or not? I don't think you got to that. Or, perhaps, by putting yourself into the shoes of others, you don't think at all? You know, there is a stage beyond open-mindedness by which you become empty-headed. You have to be careful not to confuse the two. What about Aristotle and perspectives?


Hi,

There are many dimensions to people. Everyone is his own person. None better than anyone else.

In my opinion there is a greater likelihood that Fischer (note the spelling) would be in in a game of chess than I would beat him. As for Einstein, there was a greater likelihood that he would understand a physics formula than I.

As for the rest of your comments, I am simply attempting to be polite and respectful of the op at this point. I do not want to digress from the topic at hand.

Also, if I feel you are being disrespectful to me in the future, I will not respond.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 12:15 am
@richrf,
richrf;70777 wrote:
Hi,

There are many dimensions to people. Everyone is his own person. None better than anyone else.

In my opinion there is a greater likelihood that Fischer (note the spelling) would be in in a game of chess than I would beat him. As for Einstein, there was a greater likelihood that he would understand a physics formula than I.

As for the rest of your comments, I am simply attempting to be polite and respectful of the op at this point. I do not want to digress from the topic at hand.

Also, if I feel you are being disrespectful to me in the future, I will not respond.

Rich


Don't you think that "greater likelihood" is just a bit of an understatement? Fischer (thanks for the correction) would swamp you, and Einstein (well, what should I say?) Why do you fear the words "better" and "worse"? They are ordinary words in the English language, and sometimes they apply, and sometimes they don't apply. Mark Spitz is a much better swimmer than either one of us. That is simply a fact (not only an opinion). Just as much of a fact as that Quito is the capital of Ecuador. Is your repudiation of the terms, "better" and "worse" connected with your repudiation of facts and truth? So it seems.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 06:32 am
@EquesLignite,
"Bekker numbers" refers to the page numbers of the collected works (in Greek) of Aristotle in the critical edition of the Prussian Royal Academy, edited by Bekker.
These numbers have a format of four numbers (page), a letter for the column (a or b, since there were two columns) and lastly a line number of the Greek text.
All modern translations or editions of Aristotle indicate the Bekker numbers so that readers may find the reference easily no matter which translation they have, or to compare it to the original passage. A similar method of citation is used for most classical works (Plato's is the Stephanus edition).

My copy of Jowett's translation shows the Bekker numbers, beginning with 1252a1 and ending with 1342b30. 1313-1316 appear to be page and not line numbers and enclude (in my copy) about 7 actual pages of small text.
Cheers,
John
 
EquesLignite
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 12:25 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;70804 wrote:
"Bekker numbers" refers to the page numbers of the collected works (in Greek) of Aristotle in the critical edition of the Prussian Royal Academy, edited by Bekker.
These numbers have a format of four numbers (page), a letter for the column (a or b, since there were two columns) and lastly a line number of the Greek text.
All modern translations or editions of Aristotle indicate the Bekker numbers so that readers may find the reference easily no matter which translation they have, or to compare it to the original passage. A similar method of citation is used for most classical works (Plato's is the Stephanus edition).

My copy of Jowett's translation shows the Bekker numbers, beginning with 1252a1 and ending with 1342b30. 1313-1316 appear to be page and not line numbers and enclude (in my copy) about 7 actual pages of small text.
Cheers,
John


Thank you, I found it. It is 1308b13.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 07:02 pm
@EquesLignite,
In the context of the passage in which Aristotle is discussing wise precautions against revolution, he appears to be warning against the sudden increase in honour or fame, power, or excessive wealth. It is to monitor these, it seems, that he suggests an impartial magistry. In the sentences immediately following the quotation in question, Aristotle argues that to avoid these evils, it is necessary to "give the management of affairs and offices of the state to opposite elements;" this "balance of powers" will, he writes, put an end to revolutions caused by excessive power whether derived from too much money or through influence. Nothing in the text suggests Aristotle envisoned the need for a large secret police overseen by some council. I think we have to remind ourselves that Aristotle's political thinking in this treatise centered around the polis, or city-state, typical in Greece; the citizen population of Athens in Aristotle's time is estimated to be around 40,000. In this kind of "small-town" atmosphere, an extensive spy service of the type in Communist Poland would have been unnecessary.
Regards, and thanks for providing the citation.
John
 
EquesLignite
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 09:27 pm
@jgweed,
Thanks Jgweed for the explanation!
 
 

 
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