By Goodman, Lenn Evan; Talisse, Robert B.; Aristotle
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Additional info for Aristotle's Politics today
As a result, even individuals who are playing or working together see themselves as isolated and separated from others, each pursuing his own happiness apart from the others. Even while promoting individual activity and free association, the liberal state is promoting the sort of individual activity that does not constitute human fulfillment. This conclusion may well be hard to accept. Let us approach it from a different perspective. Consider an individual living in a liberal state who ARISTOTLE AND THE LIBERAL STATE 39 reflects on which ends to pursue.
This conclusion may well be hard to accept. Let us approach it from a different perspective. Consider an individual living in a liberal state who ARISTOTLE AND THE LIBERAL STATE 39 reflects on which ends to pursue. He is aware of his own ambitions and desires, but he judges it nobler to pursue larger ends. What end could be larger than the preservation of his society? But the aim of society is merely that individuals be allowed to pursue their individual ends. Hence, for him to dedicate himself to society is for him to allow others to be in the position of choice that he is in—but that can be no more of an end than his own choices in the circumstances.
Yet, what kind of significance does an individual have? Just because his choices are limited to himself or to facilitating others’ making choices for themselves, his significance must be minimal. This is what strikes me as the supreme irony of the liberal state: individuals are free to do nearly everything, but only because nothing that any of them could do is deemed really to matter. It is just because everyone’s choices are personal choices that no choice has real significance. If this conclusion seems hard to swallow, we should think of characters that have become familiar fixtures of our imagined world and, sometimes, of the real world of the liberal state.
Aristotle's Politics today by Goodman, Lenn Evan; Talisse, Robert B.; Aristotle