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Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

3. Aristotle and bell hooks  

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.