Tuesday, February 02, 2010

So political...

I recently gave my Classical civilization students a test on Greek philosophy; one of the questions asked, “What does Aristotle mean by the statement, ‘Man by nature is a political animal’”? Answers varied from humans are “aggressive,” “animalistic,” and “survival of the fittest,” to humans are “conniving” and “deceptive”… Thanks to Darwin, democracy, and Spirit of the West, words like “animal” and “political” have far-reaching connotations these days!

What Aristotle really meant is that humans are communal in nature; we are inter-dependent. Personal isolation, according to Aristotle, cannot lead to happiness or fulfilment. This social dimension to our existence necessitates an ordered and governed society. For Aristotle, “good government” should make possible and enable its citizens to pursue lives well-lived, both as individuals and as a collective society.

Now, everything is so political.

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