Aristotle's View of Slavery

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Born in the year of 384 B.C. Aristotle was seen as conventional for his time, for he regarded slavery as a natural course of nature and believed that certain people were born to be slaves due to the fact that their soul lacked the rational part that should rule in a human being; However in certain circumstances it is evident that Aristotle did not believe that all men who were slaves were meant to be slaves. In his book Politics, Aristotle begins with the Theory of The Household, and it is here that the majority of his views upon slavery are found. With the beginning of Chapter IV, Aristotle's idea of slavery is clearly defined. "The instruments of the household form its stock of property : they are animate and inanimate : the slave is an animate instrument, intended (like all the instruments of the household) for action, and not for productions." This distinction between action and production, is based upon the understanding that 'production' is a course in which a result is desired beyond the immediate act of doing. Where as, the simple act of completing a task is identified as 'action'. Aristotle, who believed that life was action and not production theorized that slaves were instruments of life and were therefore needed to form a complete household. In fact Aristotle went as far as to say that a slave was comparable to a tame animal, with their only divergence in the fact that a slave could apprehend reason. For he concluded that a slave and animals only use was to supply their owners with bodily help. At the end of the Theories of the Household, Aristotle explains how slaves are different from andy other types of people, in the sence that they are the only class who are born into their occupation and become property of their masters. In examining this relationship we find that he thought that while masters were the masters of the slaves, they still held a life other than that of being master; However, Aristotle believed that not only was the slave a slave to his master, but the slave had no other life or purpose than belonging. From this consideration we begin to understand Aristotle's views on the relationship between Master and Slave. At the beginning of Chapter V of the Theory of the Household, the distinct role of master and slave is defined. There is a principle of rule and subordin- ... ... middle of paper ... ... Aristotle we find that he was a man of great curiosity, wisdom and ideas. Although his views on slavery seemed to hold true to the times, he had many variations on the conservative norms and beliefs. He had believed that slavery was a just system where both master and slave were beneficial from this relationship. And with this he thought that by nature, certain people were born to be slaves, yet with these beliefs we find many exceptions, where Aristotle allocates areas to describe those who by chance became slaves but in his opinion were born to be free. And in such incidence where men born free were not fit to be masters Aristotle explained how it would be easier for the master to obtain a steward who was more adept at giving instructions to run the household and leave the master of the house to more prudent issues. We can only guess as to what made Aristotle believe that by the human soul one could delineate whether or not a man was meant to be a slave or a freeman. And with his arguments we find that it was just as difficult for him to make that distinction as well. "Though it is not as easy to see the beauty of the soul as it is to see that of the body."

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