Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Aristotle
Pages of Nicomachean Ethics



Previous | Next
                  

Nicomachean Ethics   


depends on community. Now brothers and comrades have all things in
common, but the others to whom we have referred have definite things
in common-some more things, others fewer; for of friendships, too,
some are more and others less truly friendships. And the claims of
justice differ too; the duties of parents to children, and those of
brothers to each other are not the same, nor those of comrades and
those of fellow-citizens, and so, too, with the other kinds of
friendship. There is a difference, therefore, also between the acts
that are unjust towards each of these classes of associates, and the
injustice increases by being exhibited towards those who are friends
in a fuller sense; e.g. it is a more terrible thing to defraud a
comrade than a fellow-citizen, more terrible not to help a brother
than a stranger, and more terrible to wound a father than any one
else. And the demands of justice also seem to increase with the
intensity of the friendship, which implies that friendship and justice
exist between the same persons and have an equal extension.
Now all forms of community are like parts of the political community;
for men journey together with a view to some particular advantage, and
to provide something that they need for the purposes of life; and it
is for the sake of advantage that the political community too seems
both to have come together originally and to endure, for this is what
legislators aim at, and they call just that which is to the common
advantage. Now the other communities aim at advantage bit by bit, e.g.
sailors at what is advantageous on a voyage with a view to making
money or something of the kind, fellow-soldiers at what is
advantageous in war, whether it is wealth or victory or the taking of
a city that they seek, and members of tribes and demes act similarly
(Some communities seem to arise for the sake or pleasure, viz.
religious guilds and social clubs; for these exist respectively for
the sake of offering sacrifice and of companionship. But all these
seem to fall under the political community; for it aims not at present
advantage but at what is advantageous for life as a whole), offering
sacrifices and arranging gatherings for the purpose, and assigning
honours to the gods, and providing pleasant relaxations for
themselves. For the ancient sacrifices and gatherings seem to take
place after the harvest as a sort of firstfruits, because it was at
these seasons that people had most leisure. All the communities, then,
seem to be parts of the political community; and the particular kinds
friendship will correspond to the particular kinds of community.
10
There are three kinds of constitution, and an equal number of
deviation-forms--perversions, as it were, of them. The constitutions
are monarchy, aristocracy, and thirdly that which is based on a
property qualification, which it seems appropriate to call timocratic,
though most people are wont to call it polity. The best of these is
monarchy, the worst timocracy. The deviation from monarchy is tyrany;
for both are forms of one-man rule, but there is the greatest
difference between them; the tyrant looks to his own advantage, the
king to that of his subjects. For a man is not a king unless he is
sufficient to himself and excels his subjects in all good things; and
such a man needs nothing further; therefore he will not look to his
own interests but to those of his subjects; for a king who is not like
that would be a mere titular king. Now tyranny is the very contrary of
this; the tyrant pursues his own good. And it is clearer in the case
of tyranny that it is the worst deviation-form; but it is the contrary
of the best that is worst. Monarchy passes over into tyranny; for
tyranny is the evil form of one-man rule and the bad king becomes a
tyrant. Aristocracy passes over into oligarchy by the badness of the
rulers, who distribute contrary to equity what belongs to the city-all
or most of the good things to themselves, and office always to the
same people, paying most regard to wealth; thus the rulers are few and
are bad men instead of the most worthy. Timocracy passes over into
democracy; for these are coterminous, since it is the ideal even of
timocracy to be the rule of the majority, and all who have the

Previous | Next
Site Search