Scientific classification and essentialism in the aristotelian typology of constitutions

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Abstract

This article examines Aristotle’s ideas of scientific classification in his typology of constitutions. In particular, it considers how his theory of biological classification is used in the Politics and how his notion of scientific definition plays a role in developing his political theory. A key idea behind his typology is that different combinations of parts determine different characteristics of their wholes. Within this framework, Aristotle uses a Platonic idea that the influential part of a state determines the nature of a constitution. The article thus illuminates Aristotle’s scientific background for considering how to arrange constitutional elements for good governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-218
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of Political Thought
Volume40
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Aristotle
  • Essentialism
  • Scientific classification
  • Taxonomy
  • Typology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy

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