Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Republic and The Soul

My plan to blog The Republic has stalled, but to recap, my premise, a la Julia Annas, is that the "City" is not literal and merely a illustrative analogy for the main point -- the just ordering of the individual soul.

Today, Prof. Deneen post, which draws on Aristotle's concern about our propensity to become slaves to our own appetites, reminded me of why I think that point is so very important to the ancients:
Those two objects of our desire — both derived from instincts and impulses of the human body — are linked together by Aristotle in his discussion of the origins of political community. In “Politics” he wrote,

“Just as man is the best of animals when he perfected, when separated from law and justice he is the worst of all. … Without virtue he is the most unholy and savage of animals, particularly with regard to sex and food.”

Aristotle is pointing out that humans who are unable to restrain their most elemental appetites will prove unable to govern themselves in every other area of life.

For the ancients, being either a slave to somebody else or your own appetites made you less than human.

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