Polis 25 (2):208-232 (2008)

Steven Skultety
University of Mississippi
This paper develops and defends a new interpretation of Aristotle's conception of democratic and oligarchic identity. Rejecting interpretations that ground partisan identities in class, greed, or conceptions of justice, this interpretation posits that Aristotle thought of democrats and oligarchs as being defined by the confluence of four distinct traits: having an incorrect conception of happiness, having an incorrect conception of political desert, suffering from an emotional defect, and habitually inferring equality/inequality in all respects from one respect. The argument for this interpretation is that it best explains why Aristotle attributes a despotic attitude to partisans and it explains why democrats and oligarchs are depicted as being unstintingly hostile towards one another. The paper concludes by arguing that Aristotle chose these four traits in order to show that partisans are citizens who devote themselves to a life of discriminatory elitism
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DOI 10.1163/20512996-90000132
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