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Aristotle turns to the question of how people should be educated in his ideal city. This is a matter of determining both the suitable aim of education and the proper means to achieve this end. This end, as both the Politics and the ##Nicomachean Ethics## make clear, is a life of good quality, or happiness. To the extent of having such things as health and wealth, this happiness is partly contingent on fortune. But absolute, positive happiness (as opposed to simply the absence of unpleasantness) depends on the knowledge and purpose of the individual or city.
Aristotle argues that people can be made good through nature, reason, and habit. In his earlier discussion of nature, he concludes that the Greek combination of high spirit, skill, and intelligence is ideal. He holds off on explaining how reason and habit should be taught.
Aristotle states that in a city of equal citizens, everyone should take turns ruling and being ruled. The younger should first learn how to be ruled properly before they themselves take a hand in government.
Aristotle distinguishes within the soul a part that rules (reason) from a part that is not rational but that can be ruled by reason (feelings, passions, or qualities). Reason, the superior part, can further be divided into practical and speculative aspects. The practical aspect is important, but speculative reason is the ultimate end in itself. Military concerns, far from being a priority, should only be a security measure. A number of virtues—particularly wisdom and temperance—are necessary to make proper use of leisure time.
Aristotle returns to the question of how reason and habit should be trained, concluding that habit should be dealt with first. As babies, humans have only desires and appetites, whereas reason, the end toward which we train our habits, is a later development.
Aristotle addresses questions of marriage and childbirth that serve as preliminaries to raising a child. He believes that conception should take place in the winter and when the wind is northerly. He recommends that men marry at the age of thirty-seven and women at eighteen, that they cease reproducing about seventeen years later, and that they both keep in reasonably good physical shape without overexerting themselves. He also considers questions of inducing miscarriage or leaving babies to die of exposure in order to limit the population and recommends harsh punishment for adultery.
Early in book one, Aristotle states, “for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good.” The wording of “they think” in his statement implies that humankind seeks “good” based on their subjective definition of the term. If humankind seeks what they think is good, it naturally falls that individuals will seek what they believe to be good for themselves, which then seems to lead naturally to the accumulation of coin because of its ability to bring material comforts.
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