Formats: eBook (PDF), Paperback, Hardcover
Price: $3.89 – $27.95
Author: Aristotle (and many different translators)
Overall Rank: 90 out of 100
The Politics is an eight-book series explaining the concepts, theories, and rational judgments of Aristotle’s thoughts on politics at the time of ancient Greece, after the death of Plato. Some view it as a continuation of Aristotle’s ethical theories in his prior book, Nicomachean Ethics, where he explained his views on the virtue and morality of man with regard to the achievement of happiness in life.
Each of the eight books outline a specific aspect of human society and the importance of their roles in how a proper societal community, including sovereign and government entities, should function in order for people living in said community to be happy. His views are heavily based his personal experiences with the government of Greece where he was living at the time.
Believing societal affairs to be more important than private ones, he refers to the society as a polis (political community), which roughly translates from Greek to “city” or “state.”
Book I: The origin and purpose of a polis and the people that compose it.
Book II: The relationship of the various types of citizens in a polis to themselves and to their government, with examples of some existing cities at the time (Athens, Sparta, Crete, etc.).
Book III: The roles, ethics, and hierarchy of the individual citizens with respect to their government.
Book IV: Explanation of the best regime (in practice) for a given form of government and the important role of the middle class in that regime.
Book V: The detrimental divide between the wealthy and the poor and how to overcome it.
Book VI: The most feasible among various types of democracies and the function of its economy.
Book VII: Explanation of the most ideal regime, polis, and its relevance to the virtue of man.
Book VIII: The ideal educational opportunities for the youth of a polis.
Why Should You Read It?
The Politics is one of Aristotle’s best known works and 2nd best known of his writings on the topic of ethics (the 1st being Nicomachean Ethics). Many concepts, which are still implemented in modern politics to this very day, can be found right here in this book.
It also gives rise to a completely different set of ideas from the contemporary philosophical theories of liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism, utilitarianism, stoicism, and various others.
If any of the following apply to you, you should get it. You _____________.
- are interested in or actively studying in political science
- are interested in or actively studying in ethics
- are interested in or actively studying in sociology
- want to learn a little about Greek history with regard to its government
- want to understand the various forms of government and societal leadership
- have already read the Nicomachean Ethics
- like Aristotle’s work in general
- are required to have this textbook for a class you are taking in school
What I Like (Pros):
- It’s fairly cheap (in most cases) and easy to get.
- It allows you to understand ancient Greek politics from the perspective of a normal citizen.
- It explains the concept of virtue as it pertains to various roles of people, both individually and for a society.
- It shows you some of the first ever theories and concepts of political science.
- It presents a good substitute to many modern-day political theories you may or may not subscribe to (liberalism, capitalism, socialism, etc.).
What I Don’t Like (Cons):
- Aristotle doesn’t exactly jump at the idea of equal rights for all people (he makes arguments for slavery and the inferiority of women).
- He doesn’t always use rational judgments and logical arguments to present his views and theories. (He uses observation instead.)
- It’s VERY lengthy (with 8 books, of course it will be).
Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars
Aristotle is one of the most well-known philosophers of all time and the work he left never ceases to amaze me. Though I will say, studying his work is not an easy task, as most of it has been lost over time (which is probably why his arguments don’t always seem to be logical). As mentioned earlier, Politics could be seen as a spin-off of Nicomachean Ethics, which are both really good readings together in the field of ethics.
On a societal level, Aristotle lays out the moral foundations he believes are best suited for a functioning community, and many of his theories and concepts are still utilized to this day with the set of morals we were taught since we were a child. It also gives you a pretty good perspective as to what was considered “moral” back then in those time, and when you read it, you’ll notice a lot of differences between the two lifestyles (past and present).
All in all, I think it’s a good read and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the baseline theories of ethics and morality that have influenced the way we live today.
There is an astonishingly large number of editions, copies, and versions of this one book series, mainly because of all the different editions, translations, and editions of said translations. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a short list to make it very easy to find the right version you’re looking for:
This is a paperback version published in 1985. It is the cheapest one out there that is still in good condition, despite its age. At the time of me writing this review, there are only 4 left at this price, so grab em’ while you can!
- Format: Paperback
- Condition: Very Good
- Translator(s): Carnes Lord
- Price: $3.89
I would recommend this edition for those on a budget and/or have adapted to the paperless world of ebooks. Keep in mind, however, that this is one of the oldest versions out there, so I would only recommend it to those don’t get a headache over trying to decipher the olden-day English writings,
- Format: ebook (PDF)
- Translator(s): William Ellis
- Price: $4.34
This edition is a bit more expensive, but it is freshly translated (February 2017) for a better understand of what he’s actually saying (as opposed to many of those translated writings using that super archaic English that makes it damn-near impossible to comprehend).
- Format: ebook (PDF)
- Translator(s): C. D. C. Reeve
- Price: $18.95
If you are one of those people that prefer the good ol’ fashion and authentic hardcover books, then this one is for you. Its been revamped by modern scholars and translation is also fairly recent, making it a bit easier to understand. It is a bit pricier than most, however.
- Format: Hardcover, Paperback
- Condition: Very Good
- Translator(s): Benjamin Jowett, H. W. Carless Davis (1874-1928)
- Price: $27.95 – $46.95
Take care and enjoy your reading!
Until next time,