Law and Liberty: “Aristotle’s Investigation of the True Meaning of Citizenship”
By John Hungerford
A review of Aristotle: Democracy and Political Science by Delba Winthrop
“Delba Winthrop’s Aristotle: Democracy and Political Science addresses itself to modern political scientists who are, in her words, “partisans of democracy.” We may take it for granted that for such readers, the merits of democracy are so uncontroversial that “were someone to ask today, ‘Why democracy?’”—their visages “might well drop in surprised silence.” The question “Why?” takes some effort to recover. Upon recovering it, however, we find a series of questions and doubts lying just beneath the apparent certainty of the modern democrat.
These doubts begin with the troubling possibility that, although the strongest argument for democracy is that it alone allows people to live as they wish, in truth, democracy permits only a certain kind of people to live as they wish and at the same time removes from view the crucial question of what wish, and what way of living, deserve the freedom that only appears universal in democracy. Winthrop contends that this question, and its attendant puzzles and doubts, were understood deeply by Aristotle, who deftly navigated them in the third book of his Politics. Aristotle: Democracy and Political Science is a painstaking, line-by-line commentary on that book intended as a resource for the most serious friend of democracy who has become troubled by such doubts…”
John Hungerford is JMC’s Director of Faculty Development. He received his B.A. from Kenyon College, where he studied Political Science and Physics, and an M.A. from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston College. His research focuses on ancient political philosophy, and his dissertation addressed the perplexing relationship between reason and politics in Aristotle’s moral and political writings.
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