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Superlative Virtue: The Problem of Monarchy in Aristotle's 'Politics'

W. R. Newell
The Western Political Quarterly
Vol. 40, No. 1 (Mar., 1987), pp. 159-178
DOI: 10.2307/448559
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/448559
Page Count: 20
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Superlative Virtue: The Problem of Monarchy in Aristotle's 'Politics'
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Abstract

According to my interpretation, the claim to monarchical authority of what Artistotle calls "superlative virtue" poses an especially great difficulty for achieving "political justice" as the Politics envisions it. For, as the extreme case of natural inequality, superlative virtue renders problematic Aristotle's intention elsewhere in the Politics to foster inclusiveness by recognizing the diversity of virtues and, therefor, of contributions to the common good. On the basis of my interpretation, I call into question the reading of Aristotle exemplified by the studies of R. Beiner and H.-G. Gadamer. Because they do not consider Aristotle's reflection on the good and bad potentialities of absolute rule, I argue, Beiner and Gadamer may be offering a one-sided presentation of Aristotle in which he appears too sanguine about the prospects for communitarian harmony and too easily adaptable to a contemporary democratic solution to the absence of community from current political life.

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