Friday, November 23, 2012


Corey Robin has an expose of one of the people David Brooks thinks will restore conservatism in America, Yuval Levin.  Robin discusses this article by Levin and I was struck by Levin's warped concept of virtue:
In the ancient view of politics, as expounded by Aristotle, political communities were necessary for the fulfillment of man’s nature, to seek justice through reason and speech. Man’s ultimate purpose was the virtuous life, and politics was necessary for the pursuit of that end.
Levin does not mention that for Aristotle the virtuous life included slaves & slavery:
From POLITICS, Book 1, [1255a]:
It is manifest therefore that there are cases of people of whom some are freemen and the others slaves by nature, and for these slavery is an institution both expedient and just. 
Aristotle was also not much of a careful observer:
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. He said also that children will be healthier if conceived when the wind is in the north. One gathers that the two Mrs. Aristotles both had to run out and look at the weathercock every evening before going to bed.
- Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society (1953)
Of course, for a real conservative like Levin the actual facts about Aristotle are really just inconveniences that he does not need to confront.

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