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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: March 2008

15 - Aristotle: an introduction

from ARISTOTLE
Summary
The key to Aristotle's conception of politics is the figure of the legislator. In proposing a general study of legislation Aristotle indicates two distinct sorts of reason for undertaking the enterprise. First, successful lawgiving, and the ability to assess the merits of particular legislation, are largely matters of experience. Second, Aristotle complains that his predecessors have left the field of legislation uninvestigated. Aristotle's identification of the true politician with the architectonic lawgiver reflects a common Greek understanding of how their political institutions were and indeed should be created, which is reflected, for example, in popular conceptions of the work of Lycurgus and Solon, in the role actually assigned to lawgivers in the foundation of colonies, and not least in the legislative project of Plato's Laws. At its most general and fundamental level Aristotle's analysis of the polis is a highly abstract exercise in rational choice theory.
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The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought
  • Online ISBN: 9781139053716
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521481366
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