Slavery in Aristotle's Works Essay example

Slavery in Aristotle's Works Essay example

Length: 3305 words (9.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Before a serious investigation of any aspect of Aristotle’s political theories is undertaken, we must take a moment to acknowledge that many of the institutions and doctrines he defends have been repudiated in modern political thought. In fact many such institutions are appalling and simply morally wrong. One such institution is slavery. Aristotle argues in the Politics that slavery is just. No argument is needed to conclude that Aristotle made a terrible ethical and moral error in defending slavery. Further we must accept that the argument of the abolition of slavery was available to him as his defense of slavery is in response to critics who claim slavery is unjust. What sparks intriguing debate is questioning why Aristotle defended slavery, and whether there is a flaw in Aristotle’s logic in his defense of slavery, or if it is in fact internally consistent with the rest of his writings on justice and virtue. Some scholars have claimed that Aristotle’s defense of slavery is a “battered shipwreck” of an argument. Yet, others maintain that the argument is in fact internally consistent. Any argument in favor of Aristotle’s defense of slavery is not in any way meant to morally support the institution of slavery; only that Aristotle used proper or unflawed logic in that argument. Likewise any argument against Aristotle’s defense is not a moral judgment toward slavery by this author. I am only concerned in how Aristotle builds his argument, and where flaws or contradictions may be located. Consideration of the context of slavery within Greek life of Aristotle’s time is also of importance.

Any investigation or commentary on Aristotle’s slavery argument must first begin with the context of slave...

... middle of paper ...

...s two separate, distinct entities. As intimated above, he more likely viewed them as a duality, that is, that they are part of one another. They were also, in the larger sense, part of the life of the household, as the household was part of the polis. However, this duality was strictly one way. It seems clear that he perceived the slave to be part of the master, not the other way around. But again, this was justified by Aristotle’s ultimate virtue, reason. To the extent that the master is seen as imbued with superior intelligence and understanding, it was his duty if not right to provide guidance to those less fortunate by birth. It is perhaps ironic that the justification of the benevolent dictatorship, so prevalent during imperialistic adventures by colonial countries, perhaps found its philosophical roots in the so-called democratic city-states of ancient Greece.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Evolution of Slavery in Justice Essay

- ... The payment for such crime called for one-half of the slave’s value. Had an ox supplanted the slave under the same circumstances, the owner of the ox could file no claim against the man who injured his bovine. (“Code of Hammurabi.” 1772 BC.) The significance of the bottom tier crime is that it entitles the enslaved person to a certain right. This thought says something profound about the nature of humanity. Humans value another man’s well-being much more highly than the well-being of an animal, no matter if the human is kin or a member of a conquered tribe....   [tags: Roman Republic, ancient Greece, Hammurabi]

Strong Essays
1177 words (3.4 pages)

Slavery in Ancient Rome Essay

- The experiences of enslaved women differed from the experience of enslaved men in ancient Rome; slavery within ancient Rome can be traced back to the first century BCE and was based primarily on the chattel slave system. Slavery within the ancient roman society was highly normalised as it was considered a part of roman culture. Slavery within ancient Rome was so heavily normalised that it is considered to be described as a “slave society” Joshel (2010, p. 6) states that “For slaves living in the Roman world, there was no outside – no place without slavery and no movement that declared slavery wrong....   [tags: gender roles]

Strong Essays
1484 words (4.2 pages)

Summary Of ' The Eyes Of Slavers ' Essay

- Although a practice not viewed positively by all, slavery, a least in this document, could be justified in the eyes of slavers. As these sources have illustrated due to the high demand for free labor, slavery became a prominent problem through this era. However, African enslaved did not simply obey their capture. The primary source The Slaves Mutiny written by in 1730 by William Snelgrave focuses on another aspect of slavery that the other sources didn’t quite touch on, or go into much depth, and that would be slave revolt or mutiny....   [tags: Atlantic slave trade, Slavery, History of slavery]

Strong Essays
1572 words (4.5 pages)

Aristotle's View of Slavery Essay

- 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....   [tags: Slave Slavery Aristotle Paper Essay]

Strong Essays
1276 words (3.6 pages)

Lucian 's Lychnopolis And The Problems Of Slave Surveillance Essay

- ... Later in this section, she examines the way Lucian describes the lamps of Lychnopolis as περιθέοντας and διατρίβοντας which parallels the language used in New Comedy to describe slaves (Sabnis, 216-217). This evidence clearly shows that Lucian was trying to evoke the stereotypical images of slaves in his portrayal of the lamps and, because of this, that Sabnis’ first point is valid. Further supporting Sabnis’ idea about the symbolism of lamps is her inclusion of Aristotle’s theories regarding slaves....   [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States, Lamps]

Strong Essays
1303 words (3.7 pages)

Aristotle, Kant, And Royce Ethical Works Essays

- ... The good for human beings, then, must essentially involve the entire proper function of human life as a whole, and this must be an activity of the soul that expresses genuine virtue or excellence. (Nic. Ethics I 7) Thus, human beings should aim at a life in full conformity with their rational natures; for this, the satisfaction of desires and the acquisition of material goods are less important than the achievement of virtue (Aristotle: Ethics). Stevens virtue was to be a butler to the home owner, and perform this tasked with greatness in the same nature that his father would perform these tasks....   [tags: Ethics, Morality, Human, Virtue]

Strong Essays
795 words (2.3 pages)

Politics by Aristotle Essay

- The subject which the question focuses on is the view of Aristotle’s ideal state. The distinction between hierarchy and equality is at the heart of the understanding of Aristotle’s ideal state. He claims that an ideal state ought to be arranged to maximise the happiness of its citizens. So happiness together with political action is the telos of human life. This end can be reached by living a better ethical life. However, he endorses hierarchy over equality. On one hand we have the equality which benefits everyone; on the other hand we have the distinction of classes meant in terms of diversities and differences where the middle one appears to be the means through which the state is balanced...   [tags: Aristotle's Ideal State, Happiness Politics]

Strong Essays
1847 words (5.3 pages)

Views of Slavery and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau's Works

- Views of Slavery and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau's Works Two men, similar in their transcendentalist beliefs and yet so different in their methods of expressing their beliefs on handling the issues of society, were major voices in the anti-slavery movement. While their focuses are more on the subjects of morality and individual choice, they still reflect on how slavery should be addressed by the American people, American referring to the free whites who actually make the decisions....   [tags: Slavery Racism Emerson Thoreau Essays]

Strong Essays
1726 words (4.9 pages)

Aristotle's Logical Foundation of Physiognomics Essay

- Aristotle's Logical Foundation of Physiognomics ABSTRACT: Whenever we meet an unknown person, our first judgment, even unwillingly and often subconsciously, starts from his or her external appearance. Since character can be properly recognized only from words and deeds observed over some time, at first sight we have to rely on what we immediately can see. This physiognomical first approach to each other is as old as humankind, and, though it has never been able to be proved a proper science, in everyday life we all believe in and use physioculture....   [tags: Aristotle]

Free Essays
1906 words (5.4 pages)

Essay Slavery

- Slavery is an issue we may never be free of, we may think this is bad but the Romans including people such as Hammurabi and Aristotle believed that slavery was essential to life and would have thought that this wouldn't matter. This especially didn't matter since slaves were only seen as objects or tools. Although there are still people who probably believe in what the Romans did, but now we now classify all people as equal. Anyone could have become a slave if they either: 1. Committed a crime 2....   [tags: Slavery Essays]

Free Essays
833 words (2.4 pages)