Plato, Aristotle, and the Purpose of Politics

Plato, Aristotle, and the Purpose of Politics

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In this book, Kevin M. Cherry compares the views of Plato and Aristotle about the practice, study and, above all, the purpose of politics. The first scholar to place Aristotle's Politics in sustained dialogue with Plato's Statesman, Cherry argues that Aristotle rejects the view of politics advanced by Plato's Eleatic Stranger, contrasting them on topics such as the proper categorization of regimes, the usefulness and limitations of the rule of law, and the proper understanding of phronesis. The various differences between their respective political philosophies, however, reflect a more fundamental difference in how they view the relationship of human beings to the natural world around them. Reading the Politics in light of the Statesman sheds new light on Aristotle's political theory and provides a better understanding of Aristotle's criticism of Socrates. Most importantly, it highlights an enduring and important question: should politics have as its primary purpose the preservation of life, or should it pursue the higher good of living well?
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 254 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1139335367
  • 9781139335362

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. A place for politics: the household and the city; 2. The beginnings and ends of political life; 3. Political knowledge and political power; 4. Political inquiry in Aristotle and the Eleatic Stranger; 5. Philosophy and politics in the Eleatic Stranger, Socrates, and Aristotle; 6. Modern politics, the Eleatic Stranger, and Aristotle; Conclusion.
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Review quote

'The book's complex arguments are clearly and persuasively communicated, laying the ground for future work on the important questions of Socrates's place within the conversation, and the way Aristotle understands and uses rhetoric.' Choice 'Plato, Aristotle, and the Purpose of Politics is a valuable addition to the literature on both the Statesman and the Politics. Students of Greek political thought can be grateful to Cherry for his clear and careful statement of the major interpretive issues surrounding the relationship between these two texts and for his provocative attempts to answer challenging questions that continue to deserve further study.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review 'Cherry's originality and contribution lie in his choice of Plato's Eleatic Stranger as a sustained interlocutor for Aristotle and also in the accounts of politics and philosophy he elaborates by way of their confrontation.' Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 'This is an ambitious book, rich in detail, widely read at the primary level and thoroughly researched at the secondary level, with a provocative thesis and concluding with an attempt to show the relevance of the ancient investigations to contemporary political philosophy.' Polis 'This book is clearly written, stimulating, and provocative. It is engaging, readable, and well produced.' Review of Metaphysics
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About Kevin M. Cherry

Kevin M. Cherry is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Richmond (Richmond, VA, USA). He has previously taught at Saint Anselm College and the University of Notre Dame, where he earned his PhD. His research has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, and History of Political Thought.
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