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Ernest Barker on the Composition and Structure of Aristotle's Politics

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E. Barker twice wrote essays entitled 'The composition and structure of Aristotle's Politics', first as a journal article in 1931, and later in 1946 as part of the introduction to his translation of the Politics. In these two essays, he came to exactly the opposite conclusions. In the first paper, he distinguished three periods in Aristotle's life and assigned to each of them three 'blocks' in the Politics, based on the criterion of how closely these blocks were related to, or are removed from, Plato's political theory. In doing so, he not only followed W. Jaeger's genetic approach, but also went beyond it by assuming that there were three different strata of Aristotle's political philosophy. In 1946, however, Barker rejected not only Jaeger's approach, but his own method of reading Aristotle's Politics. This paper evaluates the merit of Barker's arguments and comes to the conclusion not only that Barker's essay from 1946 ignored the intellectual context of the Politics, but also that his view of the Politics as unitary in composition and structure overlooks many problems this work poses.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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