Monday, March 07, 2011

Aristotle: Politics Book VII notes.

Some notes on priests:

"Of the classes enumerated there remain only the priests, and the manner in which their office is to be regulated is obvious. No husbandman or mechanic should be appointed to it; for the Gods should receive honor from the citizens only. Now since the body of the citizen is divided into two classes, the warriors and the councillors and it is beseeming that the worship of the Gods should be duly performed, and also a rest provided in their service for those who from age have given up active life, to the old men of these two classes should be assigned the duties of the priesthood."

"But in speaking of the magistrates we must not forget another section of the citizens, viz., the priests, for whom public tables should likewise be provided in their proper place near the temples."

It is all a bit peculiar to me.

Regarding the office of elder:

"It remains therefore that both functions should be entrusted by the ideal constitution to the same persons, not, however, at the same time, but in the order prescribed by nature, who has given to young men strength and to older men wisdom. Such a distribution of duties will be expedient and also just, and is founded upon a principle of conformity to merit."

As has been noted by Plato, the end stage of Democracy goes through a stage where idolatry of equality runs amok and the young become equal to the old in wisdom. We are currently going through another one of these historical blips, where the slogan "Don't trust anyone over thirty" has been embraced quite generally by the old and young alike.

And who should qualify as a citizen:

"Now, since we are here speaking of the best form of government, i.e., that under which the state will be most happy (and happiness, as has been already said, cannot exist without virtue), it clearly follows that in the state which is best governed and possesses men who are just absolutely, and not merely relatively to the principle of the constitution, the citizens must not lead the life of mechanics or tradesmen, for such a life is ignoble, and inimical to virtue. Neither must they be husbandmen, since leisure is necessary both for the development of virtue and the performance of political duties."

I won't agree with this, but only note that the topic has been given far more consideration by Aristotle than by any one I have heard on this matter.

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