Aristotle’s Theory of the State by Curtis N. Johnson (auth.)

By Curtis N. Johnson (auth.)

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IS Yet Aristotle himself provides the warrant for believing that this is the case. First we must recall that for Aristotle all human knowledge or science (episteme) resolved itself into one of three principal types: theoretical, practical and productive. 19 Of particular interest here is the distinction between the first two of these. The theoretical sciences are concerned with things not subject to change, or to things whose principle of change lies within themselves, whereas practical sciences are concerned with variable (or changing) things, but whose principle of change consists in their being acted upon (ta prakta) by man.

His investigation of this aspect of things supplies him with the 'empirical' parts of his definitions: the polis is an association for self-sufficiency and existence because all poleis do in fact provide these things, and do so not accidentally but essentially. But on the other hand Aristotle's mind wishes also to grasp the proper order of nature, the goals which natural objects are trying to fulfill but from which they often fall short or 'deviate'. This is Aristotle's so-called idealism, ideal because what Aristotle finds in nature is not often seen in nature, particularly in human affairs.

Also Lord (1984), Introduction, III. Metaphysics E. i 1025 bl8-28; Topics VI. vi 145 al5-18; NE VII. ii 1139 a26-b4, VII. iv 1140 al-23. Aristotle identifies the 'theoretical sciences' as metaphysics, mathematics, physics, biology and the science of the soul. Ethics belongs with politics to the practical sciences. First- and Second-Order Questions in the Politics 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 33 Some such consideration may well explain Aristotle's important assertion that 'theoretical philosophy' will have a place in his political writing wherever it is proper to the inquiry, EE I.

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