The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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Aristotle considered as the core of Plato's ideal polity the proposal of communism in its double form, community of women and children and community of property for the guardians who, thus, would be able to provide the means to achieving the perfect unification of the state. Aristotle objected to these innovations and came out as a defender of common sense and common Greek political practice. His arguments were intended to show not only the impracticability of Plato's proposals and their incompatibility with common Greek practices but also their undesirability. He believed that, human nature being what it is, a political reform would have a better chance if it does not aim at realizing heaven on earth but at a political "golden mean," by minimizing the existing evils. It is perhaps indicative of Aristotle's common sense approach to the political problems of his time that he decided to follow the Laws in drawing his own ideal state which was designed to fit most people at most times under more or less normal conditions. In so doing Aristotle was to become the champion of constitutionalism. But neither his nor Popper's criticism of the Republic has diminished its appeal as an ideal designed to serve as a source of inspiration for aspiring educators and legislators who refuse to be satisfied in playing the role of the expert practitioners of the art of the probable and the practicable.


Christos Evangeliou presented “Even friends cannot have all things in common: Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s Republic” at the Society's meeting with the American Philological Association in San Diego in 1995. A revised version was published in Philosophia 25, 200-12, 1996.

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