The compromise between the life of political action and the life of speculative philosophy is one of the central tensions of Politics. Aristotle’s remarks that all citizens should know one another and that the population be “surveyable” reinforce the intimate nature of the polis and the fact that the political life is necessarily social. The contemplative life, on the other hand, requires a great deal of solitude. Though citizens must engage in political life to govern the city, Aristotle ultimately concludes that political life is merely a means to the end of philosophical speculation, as it helps maintain the conditions that make the speculative life possible.

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