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How can men best live together?
Twenty-three centuries after its compilation, Politics still has much to contribute to this
central question of political science. Aristotles thorough and carefully argued analysis
is based on a study of over 150 city constitutions, covering a huge range of political
issues in order to establish which types of constitution are bestboth ideally and in
particular circumstancesand how they may be maintained.
Like his predecessor Plato, Aristotle believed that the ideal constitution should be good in
itself and in accordance with nature, and that it is needed by mana political animalto
fulfil his potential. His opinions form an essential background to the thinking of
philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Jean Bodin and Richard Hooker, and
both his premises and his arguments raise questions that are as relevant to modern society
as they were to the ancient world.
Aristotle (384-322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, scientist, and physician whose writings profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy and remain central to philosophy curricula today. At age twenty-one he became a student under Plato in Athens. In 342 he became the tutor of young Alexander the Great in Macedonia. After that, Aristotle returned to Athens to establish his own school and research institute, the Lyceum.
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