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Delimiting Aristotle's Conception of Stasis in the Politics

In: Phronesis
Author:
Steven SkultetyDepartment of Philosophy and Religion, Bryant Hall, Rm. 020, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677-1848, USA

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Abstract

Some scholars have claimed that Aristotle uses the word "stasis" to refer to any sort of conflict in the political realm, covering everything from civil-war to social rivalry. After developing an interpretation of Politics V.1-4, where Aristotle discusses the topic at length, I argue that he is in fact carefully delimiting the concept of stasis so that it applies only to civil-war and open sedition, showing how his analysis excludes partisan antipathy, legal disputes, and political competition. I conclude with some reflections on the significance of this position: by defining stasis narrowly, Aristotle not only offers a profound critique of Plato's theory of regime change, but adopts a position that allows his political philosophy to be relevant for modern theories requiring acceptance rather than rejection of conflict in the political realm.

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