Thursday, March 03, 2011

Aristotle: The Theory of Relativity ... of Justice.

"Democracy, for example, arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal. Oligarchy is based on the notion that those who are unequal in one respect are in all respects unequal; being unequal, that is, in property, they suppose themselves to be unequal absolutely. The democrats think that as they are equal they ought to be equal in all things; while the oligarchs, under the idea that they are unequal, claim too much, which is one form of inequality. All these forms of government have a kind of justice, but, tried by an absolute standard, they are faulty; and, therefore, both parties, whenever their share in the government does not accord with their preconceived ideas, stir up revolution." - Politics, Book V.

This stands out as the second sensible comment regarding justice and equality that I have heard in the last few decades outside of the Bible. The other came from Anselm with a remark that an action can simultaneously be both just and unjust.

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