Synopses & Reviews
With Aristotle’s Teaching in the “Politics,”
Thomas L. Pangle offers a masterly new interpretation of this classic philosophical work. It is widely believed that the Politics
originated as a written record of a series of lectures given by Aristotle, and scholars have relied on that fact to explain seeming inconsistencies and instances of discontinuity throughout the text. Breaking from this tradition, Pangle makes the work’s origin his starting point, reconceiving the Politics
as the pedagogical tool of a master teacher.
With the Politics, Pangle argues, Aristotle seeks to lead his students down a deliberately difficult path of critical thinking about civic republican life. He adopts a Socratic approach, encouraging his students—and readers—to become active participants in a dialogue. Seen from this perspective, features of the work that have perplexed previous commentators become perfectly comprehensible as artful devices of a didactic approach. Ultimately, Pangle’s close and careful analysis shows that to understand the Politics, one must first appreciate how Aristotle’s rhetorical strategy is inextricably entwined with the subject of his work.
“Thomas L. Pangle is an eminent political theorist whose interpretation of one of the fundamental books of the tradition will be widely welcomed. He employs, as always, an impressive range of scholarship, including not only the classical literature and most of the relevant contemporary scholarship, but an array of nineteenth-century scholars not often referenced or read. Aristotles Teaching in the 'Politics' is fresh and full of insight.”
“A tour de force of textual exegesis and scholarly-philosophic engagement. This is the best book-length commentary on the Politics and among the best studies of Aristotle’s moral and political thought in general.”
“In recent decades, there has been an extraordinary wave of fine scholarship on Aristotle. It has therefore become increasingly difficult to write a new book on Aristotles Politics that is both original and good. Pangles commentary succeeds admirably. Through a careful exegesis, Pangle unpacks Aristotles text and illuminates the works multilayered rhetorical structure. . . . Understanding the literary character of the work allows readers to clearly understand its substance. . . . Anyone with a serious interest in understanding Aristotle will benefit from, and enjoy, reading this book. Highly recommended.”
"Those who worry that esoteric readings drag us down through one obscure rabbit hole after another can rest reassured. Pangles pursuit of the details that reveal the arguments behind Aristotles arguments is admirably clear, well-informed, and intelligent."
About the Author
Thomas L. Pangle is the Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author or editor of numerous books.