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Annick Jaulin


What is the criterion for distinguishing between the excellence of the excellent constitution κατ’ εὐχήν in Politics VII and the excellence of the other excellent constitutions ? Every constitution includes in its composition necessity and good. Yet, unlike what happens in the other excellent constitutions, in the best constitution of Politics VII there is a convergence, not an opposition, between necessity and goodness. This point is confirmed by a change in the meaning of the word ἀναγκαῖον (1328b13-14). In the constitution delineated in Book VII, ultimately matter and form are identical. Both the convergence between necessity and good and the fact that every citizen should be a good man or a ‘maker of virtue’ lead to equate the excellent constitution with the completed form of political capacity. Hence, the relationship between πολιτεία and ἀρίστη πολιτεία is similar to the relationship between ἔργον κιθαριστοῦ and ἔργον σπουδαίου κιθαριστοῦ.

Athanasios Samaras


The text of the Politics itself establishes beyond reasonable doubt that Aristotle’s best city is, in the philosopher’s own terms, an aristocracy: in Books III and IV Aristotle defines aristocracy as the regime that aims at the best, has virtue as its mark, does not allow citizenship to artisans and wage-earners, and distributes offices by merit. Books VII and VIII unequivocally attribute all these essential characteristics of aristocracy to Aristotle’s best city. In addition, his conception of the virtue of the citizens of this polis conforms to the traditional aristocratic interpretation of the term.

Aristotle – citizenship – kaloskagathos – aristocratic virtue

Thornton C. Lockwood Jr.


Politics VII.1-3 enacts a contest that concludes that ‘whether for a whole city-state in common or for an individual, the best way of life would be a practical one’ (ἄριστος βίος ὁ πρακτικός [VII.3 1325b15-16]). Scholarship on VII.1-3 has focused on the best way of life for an individual to the neglect and even misunderstanding of the best way of life for a polis. The best way of life for a polis is, I argue, a specification of the foreign policy or ‘inter-polis’ relations for the best constitution. Such a foreign policy appears to include the possibilities of both isolationism and regional hegemony, although Politics VII-VIII more broadly suggests that such latitude is constrained by the teleology of life, which shows that war should be pursued only for the sake of peace.

Jean Terrel


In Politics VII, Aristotle not only gives us some general ideas on what makes a good city and the conditions of its implementation, but also provides a description of such a regime: 1. Citizenship is reserved for those whom, due to their natural attributes and sufficient wealth, may achieve political and ethical excellence; 2. In relation to their age, they are successively hoplites, citizens or priests. Therefore, all that remains to be examined is the relationship between such a regime and the “politeia”, which in the previous books (Politics IV-V) is the standard regarding cities whose citizens are rich, poor, or belong to the middle class.

Pierre-Marie Morel


In the last lines of Politics VII, 3, Aristotle states that the happy city acts nobly. This implies that the city has a practical life, and that this life has its end in itself. This claim seems to contradict the famous distinction, which has been made elsewhere by Aristotle, between the practical and theoretical (or contemplative) lives. It is argued in this paper that there is, here, neither contradiction nor inconsistency in Aristotle’s conception of human action. Some readings, according to which this passage deals with the role of the philosophers in the happy city, are also ruled out. The proposed solution consists in showing that this text refers to a broader conception of action, one that is beyond the sphere of human practical activities: any genuine praxis has its goal in itself, even when it produces external effects.