Ethics 113 (2):402-405 (2003)

More attention perhaps could have been given to the implications of Aristotle’s repeated insistence that education should be relevant to the constitution, that democrats should be educated democratically and oligarchs oligarchically. Curren claims (p. 101) that, because education to preserve any constitution must aim to moderate the constitution, education for both oligarchs and democrats will be essentially the same. Certainly, Aristotle believes that oligarchies and democracies will be more secure if they tend toward the moderate, “middle” constitution (‘polity’). Nonetheless, if education were always to be the same, why does Aristotle stress the need for relativism (as well as insisting on the difference between the good person and the good citizen [Politics 3.5])? Interesting modern questions suggest themselves. For instance, how should public education differ in relation to the differing political cultures of different countries? What needs to be taught to “preserve the constitution”? Should the British be brought up to respect monarchy? Should Americans be educated to be suspicious of government? What of education in, say, South Africa or Russia?
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