Aristotle on Plato’s Republic VIII-IX: Politics v. 12, 1316a1-b27

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Mor Segev Department of Philosophy, University of South Florida 4202 East Fowler Avenue, FAO 226, Tampa, FL 33620 USA

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Toward the end of Politics V. 12, Aristotle criticizes Plato’s discussion of political change in Republic VIII-IX. Scholars often reject Aristotle’s criticism, especially because it portrays Plato’s discussion, allegedly unfairly, as developing a historically testable theory. I argue that Aristotle’s criticism is adequate, and that the seriousness with which he considers Plato’s account of political change as an alternative to his own is both warranted and instructive. First, apart from criticizing Plato’s account for its historical inaccuracies, Aristotle also exposes theoretical insufficiencies and internal inconsistencies within it. Second, Aristotle’s criticisms of historical inaccuracies in Plato’s discussion of political change are not misdirected, since there are reasons to think that Plato does intend that discussion to accord with the historical facts.

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