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The best regimes of Aristotle's Politics

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What is the identity of the best regime in Aristotle's Politics? Although there are a few references to the best regime in Book III, the obvious answer is the regime discussed in Books VII and VIII. Aristotle calls it the best regime on numerous occasions and discusses it at great length. Yet, this is not the complete answer. In Book IV Aristotle makes certain curious remarks on the best regime that, on examination, do not fit the best regime of Books VII and VIII. They lead, instead, to the discovery of a systematic, though quiet, teaching on a very different best regime in Book III. The Politics actually contains a complicated yet coherent teaching on two best regimes. Grasping this teaching is key to arriving at a proper understanding of the distinctive character of Aristotle's political thought.

Keywords: Aristotle; Aristotle and Plato; Aristotle and Socrates; Aristotle and political science; Aristotle on happiness; Aristotle on philosophy; Aristotle on regimes; Aristotle on virtue; Aristotle's Politics; The Politics and The Republic; aristocracy; kingship; law and Aristotle; legislation in The Politics; nature in Aristotle; philosopher-kings; political philosophy; practical politics and Aristotle; the best life in Aristotle; the best regime

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Political Science, University of Toronto, 100 St George Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G3.

Publication date: 2000-02-01

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