Politics 1:2

Author

Aristotle

Genre

Article/Essay

Overview

At the outset of his classic treatise on political matters, Aristotle says that in order to learn about the origin and purpose of the city (polis) one must first examine its components: the family and the village. The natural reliance of family members upon one another and the similarly natural reliance of families upon one another in communities causes Aristotle to famously conclude that “man is by nature a political animal.” This leads him to the provocative claim that “while [the city] comes into existence for the sake of mere life, it exists for the sake of the good life.”

Full Text*

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Source

The Politics, Aristotle, (Penguin Classics, 1981).

Type

Reading

Themes

Citizenship and DemocracyConnection and RelationshipRoles and Boundaries

Big Questions

How do we hold our leaders accountable?What makes a "good" citizen?What causes division between people and groups?What makes it possible for us to connect to others? What gets in the way?What role do I play in my organization? Who determines this role?

Publication

Civically Engaged Reader

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think of Aristotle's power relations?
  2. What do you make of the line, "Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one"?
  3. What makes someone a citizen?
  4. How do you define community and society?
  5. In your own work, how do you cultivate community?
  6. In your professional life, what are the power dynamics?
  7. How do we uphold our communities with leadership but without abusing power or creating inequality?
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