Chapter 1 Kelsen’s Blind Spot for the Pluralism of Antiquity

In: Hans Kelsen and the Natural Law Tradition
Liesbeth Huppes-Cluysenaer
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In 1937 Kelsen published an article on the political theory of Aristotle in which he interprets Aristotle’s Politics as a sophisticated defence of hereditary monarchy which purports to offer a favourable evaluation of democracy. The Kelsenian critique situates Aristotle as the transitional figure between the preceding Greek theory of democracy and the subsequent theories of monarchy. This transitional position is created, for Kelsen, by the dependence of Aristotelian Ethics and Politics upon the Metaphysics which replicate the contradiction of attempting to hold two conflicting principles together. This chapter will critically examine the Kelsenian critique of Aristotle, through a return to Aristotelian Ethics and Politics in order to indicate the blind spot in the Kelsenian approach. The blind spot will be revealed to arise from the project of a Kelsenian legal science of positive law and theory of democracy which misunderstands the relationship between nature, man and community in Aristotle.1

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