Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

On the principle of any domination. Aristotle’s reasons why slavery is by nature and for the better

Giampaolo Abbate


Aristotle’s account on natural slavery is neither misleading nor paradoxical, but plausible even though controversial, unlike many commentators think of. On his view natural masters are essentially the virtuous people, viz. those who have been perfected in their process of growing, and natural slaves are essentially the vicious people, viz. those who have been injured or corrupted in some way in their growing up so as to suffer from a lack of autonomous practical rationality. Of course, many barbarians are in this state, but there is no need to presume that all of them are. More to the point, some Greeks will be in this state, especially the many and he who the many have a high regard for. Because of this state, slavery is for the better allowing a slave’s life to become more worthwhile as an instrumental part of the master’s living a good life. Particularly, nature requires that some humans will be able to attain happiness some other will not. Masters and slaves are linked through the rational pursuit of happiness by the political community where they play different roles but equally required. Thus, master and slave will form a single system whose working unity does confirm that a clear separation between that which dominates and that is being dominated must always take place for natural things to be according the best standard.

Paraules clau

Aristotle; slavery; better; happiness; virtue; domination

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