By Morris Weitz
20th-Century Philosophy: The Analytic culture (Readings within the heritage of Philosophy Series)
393 pp. CONTENTS: common advent; Realism and customary experience; Logical research; Logical Positivism; Conceptual Elucidation; Bibliography; Index.Keywords: PHILOSOPHY
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Fewer than ten or more than 100,000 cannot count as a polis at all. Citizens must be able to share and communicate among themselves, and have mutual knowledge of the character of other citizens to whom they are entrusting offices and whose performance they will be auditing. Moreover, the hierarchical division of human nature means that the obligations of citizens to anyone outside the political community are very limited. Thus Aristotle in practice offers a very elusive ideal. Even if he understands political participation in a free, self-governing community as being important to a life of virtue, he does so within the frame of a teleologically determined account of human nature, and appears to cater for a very limited cross-section of humanity, excluding by definition non-Greeks, slaves and women from any such possibilities.
While sometimes expressed in contractual terms, based on living under a set of laws, the relationship between citizens is in general a closer bond of feeling that springs from the shared benefits and familiarity that develops between them. Thus, faced with a choice between supporting friend or country, we should always put our country first. Citizenship is a different kind of relationship from those of race, tribe or language; it can include considerable diversity of wealth and rank, and can extend to larger numbers and a larger territory than Aristotle allows.
Where a tyrant rules, the state is not so much defective as non-existent. More than the absence of a monarch, or of the presence of any particular institutions, a republic is a state distinguished by the fact that the people constitute the original authority, and power is exercised in their interests even when it is delegated to magistrates. The term res publica literally means ‘the public thing’. Cicero’s briefest definition – ‘res publica res populi’: the republic is the people’s affair – indicates that the people are both the primary concern of government and the source of authority; so all government should be in their common interest, and they retain rights over the exercise of power.