Sie sind auf Seite 1von 4





inherited the Platonic tradition, that is, the Academic Sceptics (Chapter 6), the Middle-Platonists (Chapter 7) and Numenius of Apamea (Chapter 8); finally, the conclud- ing chapters of the book (Chapters 911) aim at demonstrating that Plotinus interpretation of UP was the most effective (p. 308). In this book G. has tried to challenge the illuminist paradigm that regards the later Platonists (such as Numenius and Plotinus) as unfaithful followers of Plato, by showing, on the one hand, that the fundamental philosophical problems of the inheritors of the Platonic tradition are the same as Plato s and, on the other hand, that these problems are, above all, metaphysical problems, such as the relationship between the intelligible world and the sensible one, the derivation of the intelligible world from the idea of the Good/One, the role played by the Soul in the organisation of the chaotic matter and so on. In trying to achieve this objective, G. has developed a research methodology that could be regarded as more philosophical than philological, because he makes use of the philosophical categories of modern philosophy (such as materialism, mechanism, etc.) in order to demonstrate the correctness of his argument, instead of focusing on the philologic- al analysis of the common philosophical terminology used by Plato and his successors and describing how this developed over the centuries without losing its specific identity. Although G. s argument is convincing, I cannot avoid warning about the risks of applying a modern conceptual framework to ancient philosophy; G. is aware of this risk (see p. 20) but dismisses it too quickly, saying that these terms need only serve as labels, the contents of which must be specified (p. 20). The situation is much more complex than that. In order to use these concepts with certainty, we should be able to define first what ancient materi- alism, nominalism, mechanism, etc. were, how they differ from their modern variants and why they are more effective than historically grounded concepts in explaining the ancient philosophical thought. In conclusion, the main argument of the book, according to which the history of Platonism must be conceived of as the history of the different interpretations of its basic metaphysical structure, could be defended much more effectively if one made use of a different approach, which tried to conciliate the philosophical analysis of the sources available with the strictest philological and historical rigour.

Kings College London



D ESLAURIERS (M.), D ESTRÉE ( P . ) (edd.) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle s Politics. Pp. xvi + 426. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Paper, £18.99, US$29.99 (Cased, £55, US$85). ISBN: 978-0-521-18111-2 (978-1-107-00468-9 hbk).


This valuable addition to the Cambridge Companion series offers fourteen essays from dis- tinguished scholars, twelve philosophers and two political theorists. The chapters track the Politics eight books, allowing readers to engage the text with parallel commentaries at hand. The editorsintroduction frames the Politics historically and theoretically and pro- vides a useful and non-prejudicial road map for the volume. A comprehensive, well- organised guide for further reading, prepared by T. Lockwood, is appended. Considerable attention is paid to the relation between Aristotles ethical and political theories. D. Frede reads the Nichomachean Ethics as itself political. Because it is guided

The Classical Review 65.1 6163 © The Classical Association (2015)

Ethics as itself political. Because it is guided The Classical Review 65.1 61 – 63 ©





by a grand end viewof the human good (p. 29), Eth. Nic. embeds ruling and being ruled into its very structure. F. Miller reinforces this interdependence as he interprets Book 1 s sketch of the polis development as introducing ruling and being ruled into the text. Within household, village and city, just rule is some variation of the rule of reason, reflecting the moral psychology of Eth. Nic. (p. 62). M. Zingano sees political justice as the hinge linking Eth. Nic. and Politics and interprets the latter as completing investigations begun in the former (p. 200). Many of these essays acknowledge the importance of nature for Aristotelian ethics and politics but do so allusively. P. Destrées chapter focuses explicitly on the meaning of nature, especially in connection with the practical good of self-sufficiency (pp. 3034). Though it is offered later in the collection, readers unsure about this concept might begin here. A. Rosler, however, challenges strictly ethical readings of the Politics , arguing that much of the text depends on a distinctively political perspective (p. 145). This encourages readers to interpret the Politics in more complex ways. However, Rosler seems hasty in interpreting Aristotles politicality largely as an acceptance of contemporary Greek prac- tices, including political particularism and the valorisation of war (pp. 165, 1678). Other essays consider specific social and political foci. K.M. Neilsen examines prop- erty, emphasising that Aristotles support for private over communal ownership is not a simple embrace of property rights. He instead relies on habituation and correct lawsto prevent social divisiveness but is too sanguine about cultures ability to foster generosity and public spirit (p. 88). P. Pellegrin s essay on natural slavery argues that Aristotle endorses the institution only within the household and that he is critical of the public slav- ery of most Greek cities (p. 100). Nuanced readings of the Politicstreatment of this insti- tution are needed, but Pellegrin should comment on the slavery practised in Book 7 s city according to prayers . Going beyond the household, M. Deslauriers argues that inequality within Aristotles polis contributes not merely to economic self-sufficiency but to education in the virtues. Like all organic entities (pp. 1389), the city needs differences to thrive. This instructive reading may none the less call for more theorisation distinguishing social difference from political inequality. D. Morrison examines the common good, helpfully positioning Aristotles claim within a number of alternative conceptualisations. For Morrison, the com- mon good is the happiness (living well) of citizens related as members of a structured part- nership; however, Aristotle under theorises problems arising when the common good and justice towards individuals clash (p. 193). C. Horn further explores the relation between the individual and the community in his essay on law, governance and obligation. For Horn, Aristotle endorses a normative individualism that legitimates politics for its contribution to citizen well being. This perspective none the less accommodates civic loyalty within a system of laws avoiding arbitrary rule (p. 242). In assessing Aristotles political theory mostly from the standpoint of modern moral philosophy, Morrison (p. 191) and Horn (p. 224) might recall Rosler. The identity of citizens within regimes is politically conten- tious (Pol. 3.1); the character of law depends on the character of the regime (3.11). Recognising contentions dangers, Book 5 focuses on faction (stasis ). A. Hatzistavrou reconstructs this analysis of civic collapse, tracing interactions of social and psychological causality. Like Morrison (p. 186), Hatzistavrou (p. 295) sees Aristotle as a social scientist who avoids the binary of methodological individualism versus social holism. While commentators sometimes link Book 3s examination of the role of the multitude in governance to republican theories of democracy, M. Lane and B. Garsten urge caution. Through careful investigation of classical Greek civic practice and disciplined textual ana- lysis, Lane argues that Aristotle s limited acceptance of the multitudes political role is





really a logical argument showing that appeals to virtue or wealth as justifications for non- democratic ruling unravel when they are confronted by aggregations of those same quali- fications in multitudes (pp. 2634). In allowing the collective multitude to elect and moni- tor officials, however, Aristotle points towards a representative democracy that is not robustly participatory (p. 269). Garsten, too, questions whether Aristotles understanding of political agency can be easily assimilated to the individualism of modern democratic theory (p. 327), but endorses Aristotles more original (p. 342) theorisation of how polit- ical communities may act together when some citizens rule over others within conditions of


R. Krauts concluding essay underscores Aristotle s importance for modern political

theory while returning to the political importance of Eth. Nic. Kraut finds Aristotles goodness as flourishing richer than J. Rawls s (Theory of Justice ) goodness as rational- ity. Applied politically, the Aristotelian framework (informing the contemporary work of

A. Sen and M. Nussbaum) focuses not on enhancing subjective satisfaction but on enab-

ling human capabilities (p. 371). The volume s analytic framework engages Aristotle s text as a systematic investigation of political puzzles aiming at clear resolutions (Destrée, p. 312). This challenges readers to interrogate the structure of Aristotles political theory through their own rigorous criticism. While broadly sympathetic to Aristotle, the authors do not hesitate to detect argumentative shortcomings, inconsistencies and failures. This approach also means, however, that aspects of the text less compatible with systematic practical philosophy are sidelined. At times, the authors analyse the work that Aristotle would need to compose in order to argue systematically. There are puzzles in Aristotles text that cannot be attributed to argumentative inad- equacy or cultural prejudice. If Aristotle depends on the purposiveness of nature (Pellegrin, p. 107; Morrison, p. 195), why does he emphasise (regarding natural slaves 1.5) nature s many failures? If kingship is the constitution that is everywhere the best (Zingano, p. 213), it is a troublingly depoliticised regime that is more like household man- agement (3.14). The best possible city (introduction, pp. 78; Horn, p. 238; Destrée, p. 316) relies on unnatural slavery (7.11). The texts politicality also includes a rhetoric, and not simply an argument, that moves across its books ( pace intro, p. 6). This rhetoric assumes an audience. Is the text an authori-

tative statement of a master-scientist in politics (Frede, p. 33) or is it multivocal and con- tentious (the aggressive claims of the pro and anti democrats of Book 3, pace Lane s logical focus)? Deslauriers s Aristotle sees integrated differences, but his political audi- ences may see contentious inequalities (5.1). Is every positively stated view Aristotle s? Perhaps only the committed legalist sees law as reason unaffected by desire (Horn,

p. 242). Appreciating Hatzistavrou s typology, why is faction, imaged in tales of sex

and violence, introduced when it is (M. Davis, The Politics of Philosophy [1996])? Are the prejudices of aristocratic Greek males (Miller, p. 62) reinforced by Book 1s poetic references? Can Euripides Iphigenia affirm without horrible irony the superiority of free Greeks to slavish barbarians (1.2)? Does the context of Sophocles Ajax support the claim that silence becomes a woman(1.13)? The analytic focus takes the volume in directions different from these. It would be churlish to be critical of that choice given the insights that the essays offer. However, the need for such choices reminds us that Aristotle s Politics has multiple sides that will

continue to challenge and therefore to educate its readers.

Georgetown University


Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.