In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Aristotle's Politics

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Book-Length Studies
  • Collections of Articles
  • Lexica
  • Bibliographies
  • Historical Context
  • Interpretative Strategies
  • Aristotle’s Critique of Predecessors and Existing Constitutions (Book II)

Classics Aristotle's Politics
Thornton Lockwood
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0159


Aristotle’s Politics is the second part of what the Nicomachean Ethics (EN) calls “a philosophy of human things” (EN X.9.1181b15). Its analyses range over the nature of the household, criticisms of previous thinkers and legislators, the underlying structure of different forms of political organization, varieties of different governments, the causes of political dissolution or revolution, and the nature of the best or ideal political organization. Scholars who work on classical history, ancient philosophy, and political theory have examined the work both for the evidence it provides about the 4th-century Mediterranean world and for the perennial insights it suggests about human nature and political organization. Scholarship on the Politics ranges over philological and exegetical conundra, historical debate about the evidence that Aristotle provides about the 5th- and 4th-century Mediterranean world, philosophical argument about the coherence and soundness of the positions which he presents, and theoretical debate about Aristotle’s relevance for contemporary political theory.

General Overviews

Numerous “companions” and “guides” to Aristotle and classical thought include introductory chapters directed primarily to undergraduates. Balot 2006 has the virtue of placing the Politics within the broader context of classical political thought. Rowe and Schofield 2000 contains individual articles on major topics written by leading scholars. Miller 2011 is the best online resource for guidance to basic scholarly debates and thematic overviews; Clayton 2005 provides more of an online paraphrase; Bragg 2008 is instructive for the beginner and enjoyable for the expert. Lord 1987 and Taylor 1995 are chapter-length introductions which refrain from scholarly debates; Roberts 2009 is a book-length introduction of similar orientation.

  • Balot, Ryan. 2006. Aristotle’s political thought. In Greek political thought. By Ryan Balot, 227–265. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470774618.ch7

    Detailed overview that is sensitive to the Politics’ place within the framework of classical political thought.

  • Bragg, Melvyn. 2008. Aristotle’s Politics. In Our Time. BBC Radio 4. First aired 6 November 2008.

    Highbrow radio discussion with Angie Hobbs, Paul Cartledge, and Annabel Brett. Reviews major ideas of the work in a popular fashion.

  • Clayton, Edward. 2005. Aristotle: Politics. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser and Bradley Dowden.

    Summarizes and discusses problems of the various subsections of the Politics; primarily intended for the undergraduate student. Includes brief bibliography but minimal discussion of scholarship.

  • Lord, Carnes. 1987. Aristotle. In History of political philosophy. 3d ed. Edited by Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, 118–154. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226924717.001.0001

    Straussian introduction.

  • Miller, Fred D, Jr. 2011. Aristotle’s political theory. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta.

    Clear and concise overview of the major themes by a major Aristotle scholar; includes glossary and bibliography.

  • Roberts, Jean. 2009. Routledge philosophy guidebook to Aristotle and the Politics. London and New York: Routledge.

    Shorter introduction for undergraduates with focus on the household and the nature of justice.

  • Rowe, Christopher, and Malcolm Schofield, eds. 2000. The Cambridge history of Greek and Roman political thought. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521481366

    Contains overviews of Aristotle’s method, naturalism, the nature of justice, and the analyses of constitutions written by senior scholars.

  • Taylor, C. C. W. 1995. Politics. In The Cambridge companion to Aristotle. Edited by Jonathan Barnes, 233–258. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Sensible but brief introduction, primarily to the problems of Books I and III.

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