Zum Inhalt/content: Ronald Weed offers a fresh investigation of political conflict in Aristotle's Politics. While there have been a number of studies of stasis or factional conflict, few provide a thorough analysis of its intractable character dimensions. Weed presents a highly original and provocative analysis of the moral psychology of factional conflict in the middle books of the Politics. Drawing from key texts from Rhetoric, Nicomachean and Eudemian Ethics, Weed elaborates features of Aristotle's moral psychology that are not typically used to illuminate political pathologies in the Politics. Weed argues that that the character deficiencies of a citizenry are the central causes of stasis and indispensable for understanding both the nature of these conflicts and their remedies.
After reconsidering Aristotle's rich but neglected accounts of envy and vanity, Weed explains their propensity to inspire factional associations and fuel pathological effects. While Aristotle considers factional conflict to be as common in most cities as bad character is in most humans, his view does not require a thoroughgoing skepticism about the inevitability of wide-scale stasis. Instead, Weed contends that Aristotle draws a more moderate conclusion that stasis can be greatly limited without greatly reducing bad character, so long as the vices that breed it most are limited. Weed presents a novel and detailed explanation of how Aristotle's institutional remedies, such as the selective distribution of honor and wealth, may bypass circumstances that provoke stasis, if they account for what vices are triggered under those circumstances. These remedies reveal an implicit ranking of faction-causing vices and offer helpful criteria for making adjustments in the regime that would discourage the most destabilizing of vices.
Weed advances an understanding of Aristotle's practical thought that captures Aristotle's penetrating realism about political breakdown and pathology, while also preserving the robust and irreducible essence of his theory of character and rational choice.
Ronald Weed is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Tyndale University College, Toronto. He specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, political philosophy and ethics. He has published work on Aristotle, Rousseau, Kant, and contemporary philosophy.