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Tony Burns

This chapter examines the argument of Aristotle's Politics in relation to the theory of justice that he articulates in his Nicomachean Ethics. It first provides a biography of Aristotle before discussing his view of human nature, the starting point for understanding his views on both ethics and politics. In particular, it considers what Aristotle means when he describes man as a ‘social and political animal’ (zoon politikon). It goes on to explore the theory of justice developed in Aristotle's Ethics, focusing on the notions of proportional and arithmetical equality. It also analyses the two areas of social life in which the concept of justice has a practical application: the spheres of rectificatory and distributive justice. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the continuing relevance of Aristotle for political philosophy today, especially for the debate between John Rawls and his communitarian critics.


Manjeet Ramgotra

This chapter compares Aristotle’s and bell hooks’ conceptions of politics. Even though he was a foreigner in Athens and therefore not a citizen, Aristotle writes from the position of the ruling classes; whereas bell hooks writes from the position of a Black American woman. The chapter examines Aristotle’s theory of teleology in relation to knowing and being, which it then contrasts with hooks’ conception of knowledge as constructed through experience and positionality in relation to marginalized groups. It further compares Aristotle’s understanding of human nature comprised of reason, appetite, and spirit to hooks’ view that human beings are political subjects constituted by systems of power that situate them in hierarchical categories, but who can reclaim agency and create their own subjectivities. Finally, the chapter focuses on the home as the first social institution in which individuals learn about authority, gender, and social relations. It contrasts Aristotle’s defence of patriarchy with hooks’ conception of homeplace as a site of resistance that Black women created to nurture and restore human dignity.