Analysis of Book Two of The Politics
In Book II of The Politics Aristotle uses the examples of a number of political regimes in order to show the reader the nature of political life. In relating what is and what is not included in these regimes, discussing the problems associated with each of these, and by examining how well all of these regimes agree with Aristotle's own theory, Aristotle provides the reader with a comprehensive view of political life with regard to the nature of regimes. Three of the accounts of political life that are discussed are most useful in understanding Aristotle's own theory, as he thoroughly examines these regimes, recalling their mistakes and providing commentary on the correct ways in which to deal with such problems as are discussed. In discoursing on the problems inherent in the ideal regimes of Socrates, Phaleas, and Hippodamus, Aristotle is able to explain to the reader the reasons for these problems as well as come up with solutions that serve in part to comprise his own political theory.
Aristotle first examines Socrates view of political life in Plato's Laws. One of the problems he has with the regime described is that one of Socrates main tenets is that man should live with moderation concerning the use of property, as possessions are made equal in this regime. While Aristotle feels that to simply live with moderation is "too general" a defining principle for this matter, he also asserts that, "Moreover, it is possible to live with moderation but wretchedly" (65). As a result, Aristotle believes it is necessary to define the best principle regarding property use as living liberally in addition to "with moderation." Aristotle also finds problematic the fact that though possessions are equalized, there is nothing regarding the number of citizens that should live within the regime, nor does Socrates restrict reproduction in his state. He believes that by leaving the people to live without limits in this matter inevitably leads to poverty. More important than the poverty that is caused among the citizens is that "produces factional conflict and crime" (65). Aristotle further reasons on the regime of Socrates, taking issue with the manner in which it deals with rulers and their difference with those they rule. Aristotle seems to feel that it does not follow that, though an individual in Socrates' regime is able to increase the whole of his property as much as fivefold, he is not able to increase his ownership of land in this way. Aristotle seems to advocate a more consistent approach to the ruler's dealings with regard to property. The problems that Aristotle finds with specific details of the ideal regime of Socrates lead to trouble he sees in the organization of this regime as a whole.
Aristotle finds more problems with the description of the best regime in Laws. He considers the fact that Socrates' regime is a combination of democratic and tyrannical regimes, "which one might regard...