Given how helpful Steven B. Smith (of Yale) was on the Republic, I had to check him out this time around for Aristotle’s Politics.
Watch the first Aristotle lecture on YouTube.
Get the audio from iTunes.
In Smith’s three lectures, you can learn:
-More about Aristotle’s life, and his non-citizen status in Athens, establishing the Lyceum and his (lack of) role as a critic of the political systems of his time
-A bit more about his arguments against Plato
-How later philosophers interpreted him differently… some as an elitist, some as a dangerous democrat
-More on this “political animal” business
-His conception of freedom, which “only comes through the exercise of political responsibility” (first lecture, 29 min in)
-His arguments for the naturalness of slavery: “Inequality is the basic rule of human beings” (the whole latter portion of the first lecture, ending with the identification of Yale as a hotbed of elitism, as referred to on the episode)
-“The Regime,” referring both to the form of government and to the way of life of a people (second clip)
-More about the role of the individual in society according to Aristotle, and the definition of a citizen
-Do many chefs make for a better dinner than an individual chef (i.e. the idea of a democracy pooling the talents of many)
-Consideration of why he’s so keen on monarchy… a possible Alexandrian streak
-Some idea of Aristotle’s take human nature and its reflection in different parts of society a la Plato, i.e. thumos (spirit) vs. reason (and the natural slaves are those ruled by desire)
-More on the rule of law (near the end of the second lecture), including why lawfulness itself is a good habit, even when the law is unjust
-Much more than we gave on “the polity” (i.e. the good form of democracy), which mixes characteristics of democracy and oligarchy to avoid the problems of both of these (near the beginning of the third lecture)
-Aristotle’s take on business, i.e. that the purpose of the state is not the creation of wealth, whatever someone like Adam Smith or an American president might say
-And more hypotheses about what Aristotle might say about our current Western society