Page:Aristotle - The Politics, 1905.djvu/17

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9
Analysis

theorists have imagined. Otherwise we might waste our time over problems which others have already solved.

Among theorists, Plato in the Republic raises the most fundamental questions. He desires to abolish private property and the family (c. 1). But the end which he has in view is wrong. He wishes to make all his citizens absolutely alike ; but the differentiation of functions is a law of nature. There can be too much unity in a state (c. 2). And the means by which he would promote unity are wrong. The abolition of property will produce, not remove, dissension. Communism of wives and children will destroy natural affection (c. 3). Other objections can be raised ; but this is the fatal one (c. 4). To descend to details. The advantages to be expected from communism of property would be better secured if private property were used in a liberal spirit to relieve the wants of others. Private property makes men happier, and enables them to cultivate such virtues as generosity. The Republic makes unity the result of uniformity among the citizens, which is not the case. The good sense of mankind has always been against Plato, and experiment would show that his idea is impracticable (c. 5).

Plato sketched another ideal state in the Laws ; it was meant to be more practicable than the other. In the Laws he abandoned communism, but otherwise upheld the leading ideas of the earlier treatise, except that he made the new state larger and too large. He forgot to discuss foreign relations, and to fix a limit of private property, and to restrict the increase of population, and to distinguish between ruler and subject. The form of government which he proposed was bad (c. 6).