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A

JOURNAL

OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

May

1983

Volume 1 1 Number 2

139

Arlene W.

Saxonhouse

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War

171

Mary

Pollingue

The Good Life, Slavery,

and

Acquisition:

Nichols Catherine Zuckert

Aristotle's Introduction to Politics

1 85

Aristotle

on

the Limits and

Satisfactions

of

Political Life

207

Timothy

Fuller

Temporal Royalties

and

Virtue's

Airy

Voice

in The Tempest The Pursuit Happiness in Jefferson,


and

225

Jeffrey

Barnouw

of

and

its Background in Bacon


Robert Sacks The Lion
on

Hobbes

249

and

the Ass: a

Commentary

the Book

of

Genesis (Chapters 35-37)

JL JL A

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Volume

number 2

Editor-in-Chief Editors

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Queens College, Flushing, N.Y. 11367, U.S.A.

Copyright 1983

Interpretation

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


Arlene W. Saxonhouse

University

of Michigan

The Gorgias has

since

Hellenistic times had the

subtitle

Peri Rhetorikes.

The dialogue has thus

stood as

the classic Platonic analysis of rhetoric, specif


and sometimes must similar to
philosophy.

ically
its

rhetoric

as

contrasted

with

My
call

argument

is that the

analysis of

the

dialogue

be

extended

to

what

unspoken

dialogue,
War
and

war.

theme, that which lies behind the action and the discourse of the In the background of this dialogue stands the Peloponnesian
Thucydides'

particularly

account

of

that

war.

Within the

dialogue,
to the

the central character,


assumptions

Callicles,
politics of

stands

for Athens, giving


at

expression

behind Athenian
of

politics and

inconsistencies
express
more.

her

revealing international expansion. Both


which

the same time the inherent


rhetoric and war

the search for domination


as practiced

comes

from the
an

erotic

longing

for

Philosophy
response

by

Socrates is

also
and

eros

driven

activity.

The dialogue Platonic


upon

contrasts

the search for fulfilment

in the

process offers the


reflect

Thucydides'

to

history

of

the war, as it forces us to


and philosophy.

the relationship between rhetoric,


of

war

The

following

analysis with

the Gorgias

will

thus of necessity interweave Socratic discourse

Thucydidean

narrative and speech.

"Of

war

and

of are

battle, they
the first

say,

so

Socrates."

These
and

words of

is it necessary to have Gorgias. They are spoken


as

share, O

by

Callicles
Gorgias'

to

Socrates

Socrates'

companion,

Chaerephon,
recognizes

they

arrive after

rhetorical

display

has

ended.

Socrates

the

adage and responds:


late"

"But

then,
The

as the

saying goes, we have

come after

the feast

and arrive

(447a).
us

sentiments

here expressed,
of

as numerous editors of the

Gorgias have let

know,
much

are

worthy

Shakespeare's

Falstaff,

who

in

the same thought: "The latter end of a

fray

and

Henry IV, Part I, expresses the beginning of a feast /


whose

Fits

dull fighter

and a
of

keen

guest."'

Unlike Falstaff, however,

trepi

dation in the face


An
ciation

battles
this

can provide much comic counterpoint

to the story
Science Asso

earlier version of

paper was presented

at

the 1980 American Political

Meetings in Washington, D.C. I am indebted to the reviewers for this journal for several helpful points and to a most thoughtful letter from Robert Eden. 1. Act IV, scene 3. While it may make sense to arrive late for a battle, it hardly makes sense
to
arrive

late for

a war.

Thus,

the appearance of this

word right at

the

beginning

of the

dialogue
of

in

a somewhat awkward usage should


and

immediately

alert us

to

its

significance.

Newhall Barker

The Dramatic
1891), p.
nature of

Mimetic Features of the of Plato (Baltimore: Isaac Friedenwald, 31, comments on the "artistic placing of the first word, polemou, which indicates the but does not proceed to tell us in what way it does so. the
dialogue"

"Gorgias"

140
of

Interpretation
neither records

kings, Socrates is Symposium, for one,


through the
comes evident
with

fearful his

of

battles

nor overanxious

for feasts. The

reluctance

to hasten to feasts
Socrates'

(174a,

d)2

and,

Alcibiades'

medium of

speech,

courage neither avoids


which

in battle. As be

later in the Gorgias, Socrates


verbal

battles, sparring
and

words, nor eagerly awaits the


offer
him.3

feasts

Polus

Gorgias

are

ready to The

Socrates'

ostensible

cause

of

tardy

arrival us

friend. "He is
explains could

responsible

(aitios); he forced
anything.

is Chaerephon, to spend time in the

Socrates'

agora,"

Socrates (447a). What Socrates does

not explain

is how Chaerephon
eager to

have forced Socrates to do


would of

Had Socrates been Chaerephon to

hear

Gorgias, it is unlikely he Chaerephon as the cause


in
mind

have

allowed

restrain

him. But
we

his late

arrival about

has

other connotations ,

if

keep

Chaerephon's trip to the oracle at Apology Delphi. We do know, however, that Chaerephon is given to great enthusiams. In the Charmides, his welcome to a Socrates just returning from the battle at
Potideia is described In the
comedies of

the story told in the

by

Socrates

as

reaching

almost manic proportions

(153b).4

his time, his


addicted to

anemia and

reflect a man

study.5

Socrates

and

overly for study does

squeaky voice are intended to However, Chaerephon's enthusiasm for interest in


of an political things.

not preclude an

In the

Charmides,

with great

enthusiasm, he inquires

indifferent Socrates the

details surrounding the battle of Potideia, and indeed it is he who seats Socrates in the dialogue next to the future tyrant Critias. Nor does Chaerephon's en
thusiasm for Socrates preclude
other

friends

or prospective teachers.
of

Though in

Philostratus
the

records

the insolent questioning

Gorgias

by

Chaerephon,6

Gorgias, Chaerephon describes himself


reason

as

friendly (philos)
Socrates

with

Gorgias

(447b). For this

he

will

be

able

"to

heal"

the situation, the missed per


a

formance,
tion, if
that of
not

and

have Gorgias for friendship's


then tomorrow.

sake give

demonstra

today,

While Chaerephon is

friendly
with

with

Gorgias, his

association

does

not equal

Callicles, for it is

Callicles is gracious,

and

Callicles that Gorgias is staying while in Athens. he invites Socrates and Chaerephon to visit him at
"whenever"

any time to talk with Gorgias. But we do not wait for (447b) for Socrates to talk with Gorgias. Rather, Socrates is eager to begin the questioning
2.

At the

beginning

of

the Republic the promise of a


must

feast is

not enough

to bribe Socrates to

stay in the Piraeus. There novel torch race (328a).


3.

be

as

well

the promise of discourse with young men and of a


Gorgias'
Polus'

Throughout the dialogue there is the leitmotif


See Christopher Bruell, "Socratic Politics

of

and

speeches as

feasts
Plato's

(e.g.,
4.

447a and the elaborate comparison of a rhetor with a cook


and

in

Socrates'

speech, 46^-4656).
of

Self-knowledge: An Interpretation
"Introduction,"

Charmides,"

Interpretation, 6 (1977), 142; also Apology 21a. 5. Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, 483. E. R. Dodds, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959). P- 6, provides a list of the various
appears.

Plato's
which

"Gorgias"

comedies

in

Chaerephon

6. Philostratus

483.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


immediately. Thus the
are told conversation

141
undefined space.

takes place in an

All

we

is that it is

within

(endon,

447c).

It is

within

this

indefinite

space that

the

interlocutors

will

try,

not always

successfully, to

speak

freely,

to exercise

their parrhesia (46 ie, 487a,

b)

and

it is

within

this space that Gorgias sits

oracle-like, promising to answer any questions


Gorgias'

put

to him

by

those who are

eager,

after

display,

to hear more and to test the apparent universal


stand

wisdom

of this

man

who could

in the theater As
at

at

Athens

and

have the
ex

courage

to say "Do you propose a


this time at the prompting of
subsequent

theme."7

Delphi, Chaerephon,

plicitly
to

Socrates'

Socrates, is to ask the question which leads investigations. Thus the Gorgias, through Chaerephon's
abbreviated

initial
man

question and subsequent enthusiasm others

before

(485c), becomes in

for the questioning of a pompous form the life which Socrates

fateful questioning of the oracle of Apollo. The undefined locale Gorgias becomes the setting for the trial of Socrates, where, as in the Apology, he attacks the values of Athens, its goals and the grounds on which
led
after the of the

it bases its
about

actions.

At the

end of

the

dialogue,

as

in the Apology, he
achievements of

will

talk

death,

that which gives the


and

final lie to the

politics, a

world of

bodies

based

on

opinion.8

Among

the participants in the

acter, clearly identified

dialogue, Callicles is the one Platonic char deme, Acharnia, who remains elusive, unnoted in by

any other ancient source. The other characters of the dialogue are known. Gorgias is the famous orator and teacher from Leontini in Sicily who believed
that
soul

because

of

the

limits

of

human reason,
could

speech

had

more power over the

than physical
could

force
a

or

drugs

have

over the
of

employed cities.

be

magical

potion

capable of

Speech properly controlling individuals and


speech

body.9

As

we shall

see, it is not the


Callicles'

beauty

Gorgias'

that attracts the


not

youth who

follow him to

house. It is

desire to learn his craft,

for its own sake, but for the power which it promises to one who possesses it. Polus is also from Sicily, but from the most prosperous and fair city of
Agrigentum. Less famous
as and younger than
entitled

Gorgias, he is known in antiquity


and

the

author

of

work

Techne,

is the

recipient

of

somewhat

scornful mention

in the Phaedrus (267bc). Yet, it is Callicles its conclusion,

who

begins the
the
was

dialogue,
central,
a real

whose name signals

whose grand speech provides

pivotal point

in the dialogue. I

myself

have

no

doubt that Callicles

person.10

When Plato

wants characters

to

remain unidentified

they

remain

quite anonymous.

One
remains

can speculate on who so elusive

Callicles was,
researchers.

as

Dodds does,
gives

and us

then why he
some clues:

to modern

His deme

7.

Philostratus 482.
who strives with

8. Even Pericles
historian Thucydides
9.
10.

to give his city

immortality
this.

(Thucydides 11. 43. 2) cannot; it is the

his
on

words who must

do

Gorgias, Encomium See Dodds. p. 12.

Helen

11.

142

Interpretation
a

Acharnia,
invasion
mined

thickly

populated area north of and

Athens,

suffered

heavily

in the first

of the

Peloponnesians

the Acharnians "were for that


conclusion."11

reason

deter
comes

to fight a

war of revenge which

to a successful

He thus

from

an area

in

the aggressive prosecution of the Peloponnesian war


gives us other clues: of

is

approved.

His beloved

Demos,

the son of

Pyrilampos,

ties

early death for this outspoken young man of the dialogue, but his insignificance perhaps also underscores the inability of the Athenians themselves to accept openly the Callicles to the leaders
Athens
and

to

Plato.12

Dodds

suggests an

expression

of

the ideas behind their actions in

relation

to

other cities.

Such

language

could

only be
or

part of conversations within

houses, in the

councils of

government

leaders,

in the

works of exiled

historians.13

Callicles may have

been too ready to exercise his Athenian parrhesia publicly as well as privately. But perhaps Callicles is more than a real person who failed to become part
of

the standard

discourse

of

the fifth

and

fourth his

centuries

B.C.

would

like
the

to raise the question of


right

whether

Callicles

with

grand speech

defending

of

the stronger could indeed be


words

Athens, Athens from

431

to 404, ex

pressing in

the values

which

the

during

the Peloponnesian
which

War.14

He

shows

Athenians try to defend in their deeds the same indifference to


Socrates'

counter-arguments

the Athenians showed to

Socrates'

questioning
seeks on questions of pleasures.

and

similarly good life

refuses
and

to engage in the dialogue

Socrates
false

the

the differences between

real and

Athens is
Chrysis
at

at

war.

In 431, the forty-eighth

year

of

the

priestess-ship

of

battle
after

of

Argos, in the Ephorate of Aenesias at Sparta, six months after the Potideia, the Lacedaemonians break their thirty-year treaty with Athens

only fourteen years and invade Attica. The war between the two great powers of Greece has begun. The war will devastate much of Greece and signal
the end of what we know as the glory of Hellas. The

Athenians,
they

as

Thucydides

has led

us

to

believe,

are

fighting

to protect the empire

acquired after the

Persian Wars, while the Spartans fight from a fear of the expansion of Athenian power. The first year of the war is uneventful. The Thebans attack Plataea; the Lacedaemonians ravage the farms in the plains of Attica; Pericles speaks words of praise for Athens as he commemorates the Athenian dead. The next year, the
11. K. J. Dover, Aristophanic Comedy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1972), p. 79. 12. Plutarch, Lives. Pericles 13. 13. Terrence Irwin, Plato's "Gorgias", translated with notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Clarendon Plato Series, 1979), p. 175 asks: "How claim many would be shocked by
Callicles'

that aggression points,

by

powerful

states

is

all
not

With
say,"

reference

to

Thucydides, he
of

makes

two

"(1) Thucydides may be


what would

reporting,
to
do."

what the and

Athenians actually say


Thucydides'

but only it is just


14.

be

rational

"(2) Even

themselves, speakers do not say

and

fine to do

what

they

Cf.

492d.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


war continues and

143
and then voted

the plague strikes.

Pericles is fined
(503c).*

back

into

office.

Shortly

afterwards, Pericles is dead


around

Some

years

later,

427,

while

the

war still

rages, extending

now

to

northern and western


and

some,

such as

Greece, and while the Athenian subjects become restless the Mitylenians, begin to rebel, Gorgias from Leontini visits
time.*

Athens for the first

His

mission

is

not to

teach the art of rhetoric nor to

display

comes to Athens as an envoy for his city, requesting that the Athenians fulfill their treaty obligations and help the Ionian Leontines against the threatening Syracusans, allies of Sparta. His crowds.
prose

his talent before the

Rather, he

speech,

of an elegance unheard

before in the assembly, fascinates the


success.16

Athenians,15

but

scholars

differ in

their assessment of his


north and

In 422,

as the war continues


man named

in the

both

sides

begin to feel

war-

weary, a young
and

Demos,
sides

the son of

Pyrilampos,

was of such an age

beauty
of

to

become the beloved

of an older

man.*

Peace

Nicias, giving both

in the

war

There follows shortly the several years of respite from

battle. But
the

during
of

this time another young man who


and

had

shown

his

courage

in

battles

Delium He

Potideia

comes to

dominate the Athenian

political

and social world.

secures

for Athens

alliances with the

formerly

pro-Spartan

Argos, Mantineia,
the Olympic
makes

and

Elis. He

wins an unprecedented number of victories at

games.

He

parades adorned

luxuriously
Socrates
so

through the city and

he

Eros

with a

thunderbolt his heraldic design. He spends time with and is

in the his

awkward position of

trying

to seduce
a

at

the same time as

being

beloved.*

He,

who

speaks

with

lisp,

scorned

by

Callicles (485b),
on to

persuades

the Athenians to venture to


even

Sicily

and presents them with visions of of

great conquests and

extending Libya. "We are told that Socrates the


believe that any
received

beyond the island

Sicily itself,

Carthage Socrates
guardian

philosopher and

Meton the

astrologer

did

not

good would come premonition not of

to the city from this

venture.

may have
spirit."17

the

future from his familiar


who

But Alcibiades is
uses

among those

die in the forests


enchant

or salt mines

of

Sicily. He instead

his

artful speech

to persuade and

the

Spartans,

urging them to send Sicily.

help

to Syracuse and thus ensure the Athenian debacle in

Meanwhile in Macedonia, Archelaus,


murdered

slave

to the

his

master and

his

master's

son, thrown the king's

king's brother, has son down a well Archelaus be

(47ia-d)
comes an

and taken control of the

kingdom.*

Soon

afterwards

ally

of

the

Athenians,

praised

by

them as a good man who acted with

*A11 the

events

marked with

an asterisk are

described

as

having

happened recently

or

being

contemporaneous with

the dialogue.
xn.53.

15. 16.

Diodorus

Siculus,

Compare for

example

the assessments in F. E.

Adcock, "The Archidamian War,


1927),

431-421

B.C.,"

The Cambridge Ancient


the

History
17.

(Cambridge:

University Press,
p.

V,

p.

223, and A. F.

Woodhead, The Greeks in


17.

West (New York: Praeger, 1962),

83.

Plutarch, Lives. Alcibiades

144

Interpretation
to do
whatever good

enthusiasm and

he

was able

to

do.18

Poets

such as

Euripides
the invita

Agathon

spend time at earns

his

court.

tion.19

Archelaus

the

praise

Socrates is invited, but of Thucydides: "On his


on a

refuses

accession

he

cut

straight

roads, and otherwise put the kingdom


and other material than
him"

better

horses, heavy infantry,


kings that had
wood

had been done

footing as regards by all the eight


supplies the

preceded

(ii.

100.2).

For the Athenians, he

for the ship building on which their naval power is built. By the year 399, the year in which Socrates is to be executed by the citizens of Athens, Archelaus will be dead, murdered at the hands of one of his countrymen, his
beloved.20

In

411
and

b.c,

Minor

with the war now extending Alcibiades back in favor in Athens, sons of

eastward

to the coast

of

Asia
per

Euripides'

play Antiope is

formed.*

The twin

each turns to a

Antiope and Zeus are brought up by different vocation; Amphion devotes himself to music, his lyre, Zethus turns to
of more and

a shepherd and able

to

move stones with

hunting

and

the care
of what

that
own.

is,

to the acquisition
stage

to the

tending

his flocks, is already his


of war

On

they debate
a

the advantages of each

life. Meanwhile, the

Athens'

continues,
again.

government

changing from
Callicles,*

democracy
406

to oligarchy and back the oligarchic Four

Aristocrates,

friend

of

and a member of

Hundred, is

part of an expedition

to

Arguinusae in

B.C.

The Athenians

win, but the generals, hindered

by

a storm and

the confusion

following

the

battle, fail to pluck the living and the dead from the ocean. The generals, among them Aristocrates, are tried upon their return to Athens.* Socrates, one of the
prytanes

in

charge of the

assembly

on the

day
is

that

they

are to

be tried, but to

protests

that the combined trial

of all

the generals

against the

law,*

no avail.
war

The generals,
over.

including Aristocrates,
appears

are executed.

Two

years

later,

the

is

The dialogue thus


war.

to take place

during

the timespan of the entire

Some have

suggested

that the anachronisms give the

dialogue

a certain

timelessness. Perhaps just the opposite is true. Perhaps

they have

the effect of

giving the dialogue a certain timeliness, that is a close association with the war that dominates Athenian political and artistic life for these twenty-eight years. An understanding of the characters in the dialogue and their arguments cannot be disassociated from the political circumstances surrounding the dialogue,

especially considering the


events are made

frequency

with which references to precise political

throughout. the political references tie the dialogue to the time period
underscore

At the
of the

same time

war,

they

also

the

fictitious

nature

of the

dialogue. This
to

dialogue
18. 19.

could never

have taken

place and perhaps

this

has something

do

Dodds, p. 241. Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric, Aristotle was Whose, it is not 20. Alcibiades ii, I4id.
"hubris."

I398a24.
clear.

The

excuse which

Socrates

gave

according

to

An Unspoken Theme in
Callicles'

Plato'

Gorgias: War
or

145 But the ahistoricity


the
war was of

with

own elusiveness.

Is he

is he

not real?

the

dialogue is important in itself.

Thucydides'

history

of

tied to the

events and speeches of the war, the

details

out of which an

that

war could emerge.

Plato,
war

the philosopher, not an

understanding of historian, offers a fictional

dialogue to
The
the

explain

the

to reveal its

premises and underscore

its

vanity.

ahistorical

dialogue,

the

dialogue because

which

is impossible, certainly because

of

timing but
to

perhaps also

of the characters

involved,
facts
of

suggests the

necessity

diverge from lies


more

what we would

today
of

call the

history
than

to that

truth which

fully

in the fictions

Platonic dialogues

in the

researches of

any history.

Polus

comes

from

city

of such wealth

that

fashioned

out of gold and a

silver,

and of such

everyday household articles are beauty that Pindar describes it as his


mission

"glorious",
of
Sicily."21

"lofty city lavish above all in Why Polus has joined Gorgias
not one

the gifts to the


on

"the very to Athens we are

gods,"

eye
not

told.

His city is

glories of campaign.
when

Sicily,

pleading for Athenian aid. His city stands as one of the of the few cities able to remain neutral during the Sicilian
when

But that

day

Athenian
with

ships enter

Syracuse's

waters

is far

off

Polus tagging along. And while we do not known why Polus comes to Athens, we do know why he follows Gorgias; he is eager for power, for the power which rhetoric gives, and he is assured by
arrives

Gorgias

in Athens

Gorgias that the way to get power in the city is to learn the art of urge for power that drives him to follow Gorgias, that keeps him It is
rhetoric.22

Polus'

in

close attendance articulate

to

Gorgias,
of

so that one

day

perhaps

simply

the role

rhetoric, that he may some

day

he may do more than indeed exercise the


discover

power which rhetoric promises.

Gorgias tries to define

rhetoric

for

Socrates

eager to

what pre says

cisely is its power, this power which Polus so earnestly seeks. Gorgias is the greatest good (megiston agathon) for human beings (anthropois,

it

452d).

Presumably
we
must

he

means

only

some

humans,
of

those who know how to use it. It

is

good, because

it is the

cause

(aition)

freedom (eleutheria) for humans. Again


because the freedom for
not mean

interpolate "some
next phrase

humans,"

some

as

it is

developed in the
to

by

Gorgias does Gorgias does

for all, but the freedom


that the

rule over others

in

the

city.23

not acknowledge

freedom

21.

Olympian Odes
22.

Kathleen Freeman, Greek City-States (New York: W. W. 11. 6-10, and in. 2; and Frag. 1922.2.
word

Norton,

1963),

p.

64; Pindar,

The

for

power which

runs

through the

capacity half of the dialogue.


the

at this point even

to count how many times


a

dunamis

dialogue is he dunamis; it is beyond my and rhetoric are conjoined in the first


on

Only

reading

of

the dialogue with attention to this point would reveal

intensity
and

of

the

usage

of this term.

Cf. Gorgias in the Encomium


and comments

Helen (paragraph

8)

where

he describes logos Cp.


Diodotus'

as the greatest

dunastes,

that though

logos has the

smallest

body

is least visible, it

accomplishes

the most divine erga.


in. 45. 6.

23.

speech

in Thucydides,

146

Interpretation
rhetorician which

for the

he

and

Polus

so

praise

means

in

turn slavery

for

someone else. over

The free

person

in Greece is

not

only

the one who


others

is

not ruled
slaves.

by

others, but the

one who rules over

others, who turns


of rhetoric to
artisans.

into

Gorgias, confirming
the
will
rhetorician

the power
make

(dunamis)
of other

Socrates,

shows

how
you

can

slaves

"With this dunamis,

be

able to make the

doctor into

a slave

(doulon),

the trainer into a slave

(doulon)"

(542e). Gorgias

envisions that such a power to enslave others will


persuade a sick man

be

used

for benign purposes, to


assembly
or

to

listen to

medical ad or a

vice,

or an

of

Athenians to listen to the

advice of a

Pericles

Themistocles,
control of

that the slave, whoever

he

or she

may

be,

will

benefit from the

his

her

master.

Polus is

not so

benign in his
greatest unlike man

visions of

the power of rhetoric, which accord


cities

ing

to

him has the

power

in the

(megiston dunatai enslaving the


to model

en

tais

polesin, 466b).

He,

Gorgias, does
he envies,

not talk about

artisan

to do good deeds.

The

after whom

he

wishes

himself,
master

is the tyrant
rather

of

Macdeonia. Archelaus is indeed free

and powerful

now, a

than a slave. Once he was the mere son of a slave to a king. Now

he

as

king

has

achieved complete

liberty

to

do

as

he

wishes.

Yes, he

committed

many crimes to acquire this freedom, killed many people, deceived others, but now he must be truly happy, having exchanged slavery for freedom. If Socrates does not admit that he too envies Archelaus, he is simply being obstreperous.

Surely, Archelaus
subjects'

can

do

whatever

he

wishes

in the city, he
can

can

take away his


all without
who makes

property, he

can send

them into exile, he

kill them,

the fear of punishment. He has moved from a slave himself to one


slaves of others.

Archelaus did

not acheive

this status through the

art of

rhetoric,

but the

effective use of speech can accomplish as much.

Polus

wishes to

follow life

Archelaus'

example; now, Polus is


questions
when

no more

than a servant to

Gorgias,
yearns

answer
a

ing

Gorgias'

for him
no

when

Gorgias is tired. Polus

for he

very different, when he has power, that is


and

he

longer
when

answers questions addressed to other


what

people,
wants

he is free to do but the

he wants,

when

how he

wants.

Polus'

vision

is limited in many

ways

one which concerns us most

is
as

that
well

it is limited
search

by

the walls of the city. The power


a power

he

and

indeed Gorgias

for is
a

that remains within the

city.24

The mastery they


Gorgias'

mastery over fellow citizens, a mastery possible through words. deal with mastery over other states, nor the They mastery which Thucydides' mission is intended to avert from Leontini. As history so vividly shows, in this realm the most elegant speeches have no effect. When Gorgias had talked about the greatest power, rhetoric, he had talked about and
envision

is

do

not

Pericles'

24.

Despite the fact that Gorgias is


power of speech

on

mission

ignores the

to

influence

cities

as

whole.

concerning relations between states, he He sees only parts within a city. failure
are correct?

Could this be ceding


n.

a sign that those scholars who assess

his

mission as a

See

pre

16.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


Themistocles'

147

feats: they
role

persuaded

the Athenians to build walls and to build

the harbor. What Gorgias

leaves

out

in

reference to

both

of

these men

is,
of

of

course, their

in the incredible

expansion of

Athenian hegemony,
enslave the

the
of

freedom Athenians
the

exercised after the

Persian Wars to

islands

Aegean,
or

to take their resources in order to


tyrannos of the

dunastes
power

Aegean. The

power

build up the free Athens, the which Polus envies is rather a


city.25

which

is

exercised

exclusively

within

the

Polus ignores those

activities of

Archelaus

which strengthened

the status of Macadeonia vis-a-vis

the cities of

Greece, his
and
Polus'

success

Macedonia's allies, Because

in

in expanding Macedonian trade, in Hellenizing the barbarian state.

increasing

relationships

understanding of power and political events is confined to within the city, he can be, as Callicles points out so well, manipu
confusion over what

lated

by

Socrates into
within

is

natural and what

is

conventional.

He functions
envies call and

the city and his values are those of

men within

the

city.

He

the

actions of shameful

Archelaus, but he

cannot call

them good the conflict


make

(kalon); he
between
an as

must

them

(aischron). He is trapped
Archelaus'

by

nature

convention, arguing that

actions

him

individual
the city,

happy, but admitting that by convention, by the traditional values of they are not good. Because he is limited by the perspective of the
cannot separate what exists

city, he

by

nature and what exists can

by

convention; it is only
of the

once

he leaves the city,

he

can

break away from the laws distinguish between the two. Within the city nomos is the
once

he

city that
physis;

same as

the laws of justice and injustice are

The

praise of

the

person who

easily disregarded or dismissed (474cd). disregards the nomoi flounders under


not

Socrates'

questioning
nomos

which

does indeed back to

shift

back

and

forth,

as

Callicles claims, from

to

physis and

nomos

again.26

Gorgias

and

Polus both become ashamed,


the city is built

as

indeed they

should when

talking
must

before
and

men who are citizens, of their rejection of the traditional values of justice

virtue

on

which

and

function. Gorgias

cannot

take responsibility if rhetoric

according to is

which used

the city

unjustly; Polus
the ends good.

would use rhetoric

to

achieve unjust

ends, but

would not call

Callicles is the demands he


Callicles

one who

is willing
values

to

look
and

outside

the city, who

is willing to

disregard the traditional


of

totally

to look to a

nature unlimited

by

the

the

political community.

He

can envision a new

can uphold a vision of


can

inequality

and the

taking
himself he

of

meaning for justice, what is not one's own.

look to the
human

relationships

between
sees

cities

for the
rising

unconditioned

motivations of

beings.27

Callicles

as

above

the conflict

between

nature and convention

so much so that

can unite the

two concepts

25.

The

use of the phrase

en

tais polesi

is strikingly frequent in

Polus'

speech:

466a,

b, d;

467a

(two times). Also Gorgias

at 452d.
of aischron and

26. 27.

E.g.,

474c and the

introduction

(shameful)

and

478a,

b, d.
History,"

See Arlene W. Saxonhouse. "Nature


461-487-

Convention in

Thucydides'

Polity

10

(1978),

148

Interpretation
new

in

startling
of

phrase

"the law

nature"

of

(nomos tes physeos, 483c),

law

inequality

supported

by

nature

herself,

as seen

among

animals and most

significantly among nations where the question of of, but not followed. The relations between cities

right

(dike) is only
to

spoken
war

and the

inclination to

among he would like to take

states

become the

model which

Callicles

will use

justify

the actions
within

within

the city

if he

the structure of the dialogue must expand

This is why Callicles the limited perspective of the


could.

earlier

interlocutors beyond the city walls and why as his own person he must cast aspersions on those who have succumbed to the verbal power of the Socratic dialectic
.

Polus,
He
envies agreed

the skittish young colt, has arrogantly


Archelaus'

praised

the life of the tyrant.

power, assumes that Socrates must

too,

and yet

has just
or she

that

rhetoric

must

be

used

to

bring

the malefactor, whether

he

be friend

or

family,

to

justice

and punishment and

help
asks

the enemy

who

has

committed an who

injustice

escape punishment.

Callicles
or

Chaerephon

as one

knows Socrates

well:

"Is Socrates

serious

is he

playing?"

(481b).28

Chaerephon

who may be an enthusiastic follower of Socrates, but who is not known for his wit, believes (emoi men dokei) that Socrates is in necessarily "Ask him he urges Callicles, repeating exactly deed very
yourself,"

serious.29

Callicles'

advice
to,"

to Socrates earlier in the

dialogue (447c).
what

"By

the gods, I am
said and

most eager

has
talks

agreed

he does, adding that if to is true, life would be turned


and so
not at once answer

Socrates has

Polus
,

upside

down (anatetrammenos

481c).

Socrates does suffering

the question posed to him.

Instead, he
was

of

and of

love.
had
not the same

"O

Callicles, if

people

a certain

suffering for

some men and another

suffering (pathos), but there for others, and one of us

suf

fered (espaschen) a private suffering (idion ti pathos) different from others it would not be easy to demonstrate (epideixasthai) to another one's own suf

fering (pathema). I fering (peponthotes)


Alcibiades the

say this

knowing
and

that I and you

now

happen to be Athens

suf

the same

thing, both

being

in love

with

two beloveds. I
and and

son of

Clinias

Philosophy,

you

the demos of

[Demos]
suffering.

the son of

Pyrilampos"

(48icd). The discourse between Callicles

Socrates is to begin from The


epistemic

similarity of experiences, from a companionship in basis for the dialogue between Socrates and Callicles
a

is

not

Their

keep surfacing in the subsequent dialogue. is love, the sense of lack, of needfulness. suffering The Symposium is the locus classicus for the relationship between suffering
common pain or
28.

reason, but the pain which will

At the

beginning

of

the

dialogue, Callicles had


(ephithumei)
to hear

also turned
Gorgias?"

to

Chaerephon
asks

to

learn

Socrates'

state of mind.

"Is Socrates

eager

he

(447b). Callicles

appears

to have
29.

difficulty confronting Socrates directly.


This does
not necessarily mean that Chaerephon is correct. One further consideration of the attempt by Euthyphro to

cannot answer

Callicles'

question without

bring

his father to justice.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


and
love.30

149
are

Surrounding

Socrates'

famed speech, there

the speeches of Ari


person of

stophanes and

Alcibiades. While Socrates talks, through the

Diotima,

also of pain and of a

longing

to be satisfied, he envisions a the


separation of

which,
needs

however, can only be reached by of the body, by the soul's ascent to


of

the soul

final satisfaction, from the


which exists

a vision of

true

beauty

independently
being
on

the

body

and provides

the lover
can

with a nonphysical

immor human

tality (212a). The


ceases to

satisfaction of true

love

occur

only

when

the

be bounded bodies

by

the

needs of

the

body;

political

life focused

human beings in

their cities

is

centered on the

to one another

organized

in

varied units

activity of bodies in relation in the city, bodies which fight

to preserve the existence of the city, bodies


fed.31

which must

be housed,

clothed and

The suffering
words,
can

of the

body

which

can

only

cease with the abstraction

feels love, a lack of what is outside it, from body, not before. The suffering, in
needs

other

The
of

speeches of

only cease when the human being becomes divine. both Aristophanes and Alcibiades refuse to deny the
to accept a solution
which abstracts

the

body,

refuse

from

body

as

Socrates,

appearing to be
the

convinced

by Diotima,
which

seems

longing
by

of

the

body,

the pains

willing to do. They emphasize dominate the body as it tries to fulfill

itself,
love
half.

to attain a physical

immortality
and

or at

least

a physical completion.

Both

speeches

Aristophanes

Alcibiades

emphasize the

Aristophanes'

and suffering.
Alcibiades'

satisfaction with

halves search, often his life before the Athenian demos is

relationship between fruitlessly, for their other


ques

tioned, made to seem lacking by the presence, the words, the music of his Socrates. Eros is disruptive. It does not let the lover live in happy self-satisfac

tion; it forces her

to seek to possess what

is

outside

her, be it

the

demos

of

Athens,
language
pain no

the Demos of

Pryilampos,
Eros
and

or

the true

beauty

capable of perception

only through the mind.


of

Aristophanes
state
of

longing Alcibiades. Only


creates

and

the pain so evident in the


offers a

Diotima
at

way

out of

that

in the

longer human,

no

unity longer distinct from that

with

the beautiful. But

that point, the lover is


she

which and

longs after, from


one with

that which she loves. The

lover in
driven

a sense

has died

become
to

her

beloved, has become


Callicles
and

a god. are

To be human is to

Socrates

by

these human

have eros. desire, lack, desires; they both love and


to
Socrates'

they both
for the

suffer.

It is philosophy
political

which will stand at

the end of

speech as

the test

Callicles. Callicles must respond to the consistency of philos he cannot. He makes arguments from politics, while Socrates but ophy (482a), from philosophy, from the vision which Diotima held before arguments makes

him

of an eternal,

unchanging

beauty,

an

eternal, unchanging truth.


article

However,

30.

The
ot

analysis

in this

section owes of

a great

deal to the

Symposium."

Speech

Alcibiades: A reading

Plato's

by Martha Nussbaum, "The Philosophy and Literature 3 (1979),

131-172.

31.

Cf. Republic

u.369-374d.

150

Interpretation
which

the solution thus


rejects each

Diotima

offers

takes humans away from their bodies and


and

the

political.

Aristophanes

Alcibiades,

the consumately political to politics. Their


activities

men,

in

their own

way

are tied to

the

body

and thus tied

yearnings can never

be

satisfied.

They being

continue

engaging in

of

the

city

as each searches

for

a physical completion which can never

be

achieved.

Thus,
search

the

polis and

the political
not

strike out on new ventures. mate

If

one of

Aristophanes'

halves does
next

find its

in

one

person,

it

continues others

its
for

to the

hemisphere

of appropriate

sex, reaching forever to


not

an unattainable completion.

Alcibiades does

by

the love of praise, of


not

wealth and other

stay by Socrates; he is drawn bodies. Athens, the tyrant of the


her
empire. not

Aegean, does
drawn

stay

satisfied with power over

She

pursues

more,

by

the

wealth and challenge of


others.32

Sicily;

she

does

herself rest,

nor

does

she give rest to

Pericles tried

during

the war to make her whole, to


completion.33

for more, for the unattainable But the wholeness Pericles offers, as we shall see, is a completion which out of "human flesh and color and other mortal nonsense to a divine
have her
cease

her

endless search

rises

beauty"

(21

1 e).

Political men, the

citizens

and

leaders

of

Athens, do
nor

not

desire the
wants

satisfaction of nonphysical wants alone. power want

Neither Callicles

Polus

the

to persuade
power so

in

speech

alone, the power over the opinions of others.


power over men's and women's

They

that

that

they may have


being.

bodies.

They
and

want

to be able through their power in the city to satisfy the varied wants
of their physical

longings

Thucydides'

History
and

traces the effects of


cities.

human

passions

on

the relation the war

ships

between

within

The fear

of

Athens is

what

starts

(whatever the prophases, excuses, may be). The desire for Athenians on to invade Sicily. Eros is there as well, not always
yet
as

more

drives the
articulated,

fully

motivating the actors in this greatest of upheavals. Pericles, praising Athens he commemorates her dead, exhorts her citizens to become lovers (erastes) of
your eyes on 1).

Athens. "Feast her


lovers"

her

day,"

each

he

says to

(11.43.

Pericles'

beautiful

speech

them, "until you become is intended to make Athens for her,


a passion which will

beautiful,
make

capable of

creating

longing,

a passion

the Athenians forget themselves and think only of

her,

their

beloved.34

It be

is through her that they will reach a condition of defined not by their bodies which die, but by the immortal
sepulchres

immortality,
is
what

that

they

will

memories which will

be their

(11. 43. 3). For

Pericles,

the city

the beautiful is tie her to that

for Diotima.
32. 33. 34.

They

both lift the individual

out of

her

body

and

Thucydides
Thucydides

1.70.9.
11. 65. 7).

See Nussbaum, p. 156, on the role of the eromenos, the beloved, as an unmoving object to be desired, in Greek homosexuality. She effectively applies here the analysis of K. J. Dover, Greek

Homosexuality

(Cambridge: Harvard

University Press,

1978),

to the

study

of

Platonic

thought.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


which will

151

last forever; they both give human beings an immortality which was for the gods; they both defy the limitations of the body, one previously through the political devotion of the citizen, the other through the inquiries of
reserved

the philosopher.

They

stand

in

opposition and

in their

struggle

for the

same goal.

However, both Thucydides


impossible. The Athenian
The
abstract

Socrates

show

this love to be ultimately

erastes

does

not survive

long

beyond

Pericles'

speech.

love

of of

Athens,
the

of

her beauty, is hard to

sustain once

the

plague

strikes the

bodies

men and women

in Athens. Pericles

must make clear

in his her

next speech

politeia

and the

why Athens is to be loved. It is no longer for the beauty of life she creates. These fade quickly before the physical illness. She is to be loved because
of the she protects and satisfies

traumas of

war and

the needs of the


without

bodies

individuals

who

comprise

the city,

because

her

welfare

the individual's welfare would be sacrificed.

Individual

good

fortune is
of

meaningless without the

ful Athens

the funeral

oration

city to protect that fortune. The beauti becomes no more than a tyranny (11.63. 2)
complete

balancing hazardously

between the

domination

of others and all of

the po

tential subjection to others. Eros for


verbal and physical efforts

Athens the city, despite fails to


provide the
Thucydides'

Pericles'

to

beautify her,
both

for the Athenians, disappears


until

and eros

disappears from

motivating force history. That is, it


stand

Book VI,

until

Sicily
longer

and

Alcibiades

there to be

desired,
Sicily]"

to become the

eromenos.^

"And

eros

fell

on all alike

to set sail [for

(vi.24.3). The citizens,

no

pressed

to love and desire some


which

thing

so abstract as a politeia, can

desire something tangible, something


alone:

relates

to their bodies and not to their minds


the

the wealth of

Sicily

and,
the

indeed,
eros

body
more,

of

Alcibiades. The

static condition of contemplation, or not

satisfied, asked for

by

Pericles did
to

lead

anywhere.

Rather,

the eros for

bodies, for

does; it leads
eros

Sicily,

the home of Polus and

Gorgias.36

It is precisely the
characterized

for

particulars

that moves polities along. The

Spartans,
freedom
and

by

their

hesuchia, they

their quiet, their moderation, their


mired

from longing, stay within, become


allow others

in their ways, lack The


pain or

adventure

to grow

while

remain still.

suffering, the wanting

of more which

drives the Athenians to become The

an empire

is

what

leads to their

greatness,

what makes

their defeat worthy of the attention of the greatest


eunomia

his

torian as the greatest

event ever.

and

passivity

of

the Spartans

leaves them

as still as stones or as
speaks

dead
and

as corpses

(49e).37

When Callicles
35.

violently
that
of

forcefully
same

in the
as the

middle of the

Gorgias,
Sicily
that
and

It is

interesting

to

note

it is in the

book

decision to

go

to

Thucydides includes, totally out shows how eros here influenced


through these passages.)
36.
used

context, the love story of Harmodius and


events

Aristogeiton

political

(vi. 55-59). (Words derivative from

eros recur

by

450b

The relationship between Gorgias and Sicily is underscored in the dialogue by the Sicilisms Gorgias. I must rely here on the interpretation of others, e.g.. Barker, p. 3, who cites as an example pointed to by the scholiast Olympiodorus. Dodds, p. 196, is skeptical.
Corinthians'

37.

For the

above

analysis, see the

speech

in Thucydides,

1. 68-71.

152

Interpretation

he
but

speaks not of

Athens,
only be

nor of

Sparta; he

speaks not of

Potideia

nor

Corcyra,

of nature and the natural


which can

drive for more, for

more than

what one

has,

drive

restrained

by

the enchanting

words of

the weak, of more,

the passive, those who do not

have the

strength of character

to

acquire

to seek constantly to satisfy never-ending needs and desires.

These

are

the

many
of

who

for their
Sparta

own preservation or

must praise temperance.

Callicles does

not mention

Sicily

or

Athens, but
states,

the views he

expresses remind us

the

relationships

between

such

relationships which

have

gone unnoted

in the discourse
the

of the earlier speakers and which now

rise

to the surface as

city is

seen not

only from

within

its

walls,

but

as part of a

larger

world

where

the possibilities of wholeness and completion are even more limited.

Callicles"

grand speech nation.

in the

middle of

the dialogue bears a careful exami


and not at all

It is complex, divided into two parts,

times coherent or

consistent.

It

comes

in

Socrates'

response

to

speech about

love; Socrates has

talked about the suffering of the

lover,

the variability of the beloved (that

is,
not

all except

philosophy)
place on

and

the consequent variety and often irreconcilable

demands beloveds
ask

their lovers.

Only

philosophy,
with

him to be discordant (asymphonon)

Socrates claims, does himself (482c). Callicles Callicles

does
when

not respond

directly, just

as

Socrates did

not respond to

directly

Callicles had

asked whether

Socrates
about

was serious

in his

arguments with

Polus. Callicles ignores the

speech

love. Perhaps here he thinks that

Socrates is playing,
most

whereas

serious, since
and

until we

in fact, it may be here that Socrates is indeed understand the nature of our loves and passions as
of our sufferings which come

human beings,
what

particularly

from

a sense of
upside

is lacking;
or not.

we shall never

know

whether our

lives

are to

be turned
of

down

Callicles instead focuses from the


physical

on two

different kinds

suffering, not those that


as a
men.

those that come


come

lack

of what one yearns

for, but

dichotomy

from shame, from a shame derived from what Callicles sees between nature and convention, and the enslaving of free
with an

false

Callicles begins
youth, but really

accusation:

"O
a

Socrates,
which

you

act

like

an

insolent
makes

you are not more

than

demagogue"

(482c). Socrates
of

speeches to appeal

to the many, to the demos

is the beloved

Callicles.

times times

Socrates is trying to subvert Callicles and transfer the demos to himself. Three in the next few lines Callicles is to call Socrates a demagogue, but four he
accuses seems

Socrates
as

Callicles

here,

of making others suffer, of being the cause for pain. indeed elsewhere in this speech, confused. The dema

gogue strokes
whatever

the beast so as to make it satisfied,

task the
who

Socrates,

happy, willing to perform demogogue asks of it. It is the demagogue, according to is pained by the disharmony within himself, disharmony caused

by
he

the variability of the many,


seeks

by

the constantly

to please. But

Callicles

sees

changing whims of those it otherwise; he paints the demagogue

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


Socrates
as

153
what

the one who makes others suffer. Does Callicles know

he is

talking
of

about?

Is his

grand speech

demagoguery

and the

flawed, as suggested by this initial equation of the listeners, rather than demagoguery and suffering
Gorgias teaches? This is
not

the pleasing,

soothing
to

phrases

the

only

problem

in his

grand and central speech.

Many

more are to come.


which

According
shame.

Callicles,

the suffering

Socrates

causes

comes

from

to others,

The political, the public man is driven on by shame, by how he appears by how the many view him. His value comes not from himself, but
opinions of others.

from the from


as

To be
of

ashamed

in front

of others

leads to suffering

because it

suggests a

denial
a

esteem.38

However,

while

shame

may lead to
and

withdrawal,

a removal of the self

suffering which comes from public view

both Gorgias

which comes

Callicles try to do (458b, 497bc, 505d), the suffering from eros, which Socrates and Callicles share, leads to action
of power or

the action of pursuit


causes others

the beautiful. The

suffering
Socrates'

which

Socrates

to others comes, on

Callicles'

account, from

refusal to allow

to distinguish between nature and convention, to confuse the two and

thus force others to say what example,


appeal

they do
are

not

believe What

and

cannot
man

defend, for
needing to
not

that

justice

and

equality

noble.

public

to the many for his power would dare to say that justice is
good?

noble,
so of

that virtue is not

What

public man

in

democracy

would

dare to

fend the many by openly acknowledging a doctrine of injustice and inequality? The Athenians, speaking to the Spartans before the war started, could not do it. The Corinthians had
against come

to speak before the Spartans to urge them into war


words of commendation

Athens. The Corinthians had turned traditional

into deal

words of condemnation.

Sophrosune,
exo

moderation, has led to an


1
.68.

inability
and

to

with

affairs

outside

(ta

pragmata,

1).

Spartan hesuchia, in
their

activity,

makes

them responsible

for the slavery


on,
punched

of

friends
and

allies

(1.69.

1).

The Spartans

are trampled

friends

unaided of

in

situations of

in the face, danger. Because they do not

leave their stop the

act to

movements

the enslaving

Athenians,

the Spartans are the true

enslavers.

They
after

sit

back, nursing

their traditional values while the

pursue

more, that

this speech

is, harm for Sparta's allies and for all by the Corinthians, questioning the value
of

Athenians actively of Greece. But even


of traditional virtues

and

suggesting the danger

these virtues when one


envoys who

ships

between cities, the Athenian

is talking about relation happen to be in Sparta at the


values.

time find it impossible to isolate their actions from traditional

Rather

they
we

must

have"

"Not unreasonably (oute apeikotos) do we possess what (1.73. 1). The history of the Persian Wars where Athens was the
argue:

saviour of

Greece

by

providing the three honor


and the

most

important

elements

in the de

feat

of

the Persians

(troops, leadership,

and the most

unhesitating enthusiasm,
to stand where

1.74. 1

),

gives them the

prestige, the

pride

they

Thrasymachus'

38.

Cf.

blush, Republic

350d.

154

Interpretation
to the
empire

do

with regard

they have. "We


1 ).

are
.

monians, because

of the enthusiasm shown then.

Lacedae worthy (axioi), O not to deserve so much

(epiphthonos)"

hostility
of their strength

(i

.75.

They

did

not act

from the

view

that because
must

they

should rule over

Greece. Rather the blame


allies while

lie

on

the shoulders of the Spartans who


and

let the
And

fall

under

Athenian domination

forced the Athenians to


are controlled

rule.

lesser (hesso)
are

by

the more

it may be a necessity that the the Athenians powerful (dunatoterou)


,

(1.76.2) worthy (axioi) of their justice and equality in their dealings with their would be.
position and

indeed

more

eager

to

show

subjects

than

the

Spartans

In this

public speech

the

Athenians, despite

the opening given them

by

the

Corinthians,
virtue and nature.

show their

deference to the
are ashamed

conventional values of good and

bad,

justice.

They

before the

public

to say

what

is true

by

This they can do only in the privacy of a meeting with the leaders of Meios. There the language of values is discarded. Don't talk to us of right and wrong. You know as well as we that right "in human speech is judged from
an equal

submi

necessity while the strong do what they can (v. 88). There the necessity of nature dominates and the

and

the weak the Athen

strength of

ians

alone

justifies her
not

conquest.

In the

confines of

the meeting

room

in Meios,

the Athenians do

speak as public men concerned with the effect of their

words on others or with

the shame that may come to them for their praise of


self-

injustice, for their praise of inequality, for their exclusive concern with interest. Thus, they do not have to hide their ambition for power and domination
with

fancy

phrases of worth and recollections of noble stated:

deeds

of

the past.

The

demands is
not

starkly only necessary, but approved by the gods (v.105.1). Right is appeals to the many, but what physis demands. Both Gorgias
and

of nature are

the strong rule over the weak. And this


not what

Polus

are

like the Athenians


and

at

Sparta,

unable

to

give

up

noble are

sounding

phrases of

justice

virtue,
evil

of

equality

and goodness.

They
in

trapped

by

Socrates

words"

"working

with

(483a),
over

who

sees

their reasons for studying rhetoric the same aims which the Athenians had as

they

expanded

their empire, the desire

for domination
others,
and

others, to become
unjust rather

dunastai,
suffer

to be

free

men

who

enslave

to

be

than

injustice. Callicles

shakes off and

the chains of traditional values which limit


speaks as the
given

the perspectives of

Gorgias

Polus; he

Athenian leaders

at

Meios do,

within

the

walls of some undefined

space,

the freedom to speak

by
the

Socrates

and which of

the Athenians took

upon

themselves as

they

talked to

Meios. He openly declares what others held back because of fear, but more likely they were
were unable to articulate the assumptions which

leaders

could not; perhaps


restrained

they

because they

underlay their

statements con

cerning These traditional


not

good and

bad, just

and unjust.

values cited

in the

earlier sections of the

dialogue

belong

to the real man, the aner, the one who can take more

(483b).

the one who

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


according to Callicles is
(491b).39

155

able

to

bring

to completion whatever he thinks about 483b), the weakling, the one

They belong
must call

to the slave

(andrapodos,

who cannot act whatever


and who

he "may think, for

whom

it is better to die than to live


unjust

greediness

(to pleonektein)

(483c).
a slave

Callicles ap
would crave

pears

certain that

it is better to live than to die.


passionate

Only
of

death. Life for Callicles is the it is the Hobbesian life

life,

life

where one's

desires
He

can never

constantly seeking more; be fully satisfied, only


passions

briefly
The
and

met and

then

instantly
about

reignited.

Not to have
seeks
of

is to be dead.

real man

is the

eternal consumer.

to satisfy his passions constantly


end to

is

unconcerned

the absence

an

those passions,

final

resting place, a finis ultimus. The slave seeks death because he seeks cessation from passions which can never be satisfied and thus never afford him any
pleasures.

We love

must not

forget

that this speech was prefaced

by

Socrates'

speech

on

and

the suffering of the

lover. Socrates the


and

philosopher

does

not

stop

searching;

his

passion
as a

for truth it

beauty
end

do

not come to an end

either, so

long

as

he lives

human being. The


as could and

to the philosophic eros, as Diotima


a

describes it (and indeed


to the

be inferred from the Republic), w is

death

life

which

both Callicles

Socrates know

of as eternal searching.

For

Socrates death may be a resolution, a completion, though his possibly comic vision in the Apology (4oe-4ic) suggests that his life of eternal questioning
would not of

defeat,

necessarily end with death. For Callicles death can only be a sign of benefit only to those who do not know how to live well, to
own passionate

satisfy their

desires

at the expense of others.


not

Not to be

able

to control and dominate the activities of others,


self or those one cannot

to be able to defend one


mud, such a

loves,
living.
of

to allow oneself to

be trampled in the

life

be

worth

The importance freedom

domination for human happiness, this Callicles knows;

this he asserts declaratively. When Callicles analyzes the conditions and causes
of and

slavery, he begins to speculate; he begins to hesitate. (483b). He


no

Oimai,

I believe, he
establish

says

longer knows. The

weak are

the ones who

the nomoi, the traditions

and the values which

limit

and enslave the


who stand your

actions of
position now you

strong
make

men.

The Athenians declare to the Spartans Athens:

in

of weakness vis-a-vis
reference

"Calculating
of

what

is in
has

interest,
turned

to the

language

justice,

which

never

anyone quire
of

it"

away from getting more (pleon echein) who had the strength to ac (1.76.2). The language of justice, in other words, is the discourse The
weak

those who are weak.

fear the

stronger

(erromenesterous

kai dunatous, 483c); they fear that the strong will take more than their fair share, as indeed the Athenians did in Greece. And so the weak, for example
39.
gndsin.

Cf. the strikingly


Callicles'

similar

language in the

Corinthians'

speech:

epitelesai

ergoi

ha

an

1.70.2. vi.5o6e; vn.533a.

strong

men are

hikanoi

ontes

ha

an noesosin epitelein.

40.

156
the

Interpretation

Spartans (1.86. 1-5), say that the Athenian actions are evil, that they are unjust and not in accordance with the nomoi. To want more than one's fair

(equal)

share

is

condemned

by

those

who are

weak,

by

the slaves who cannot the strong city. It


who

satisfy is the weak


equality.

their passions and who


and

envy the

truly strong

man or

worthless, or so Callicles believes

(oimai, 483c),
we must

love

Callicles
Just

appears

here

as no

friend to democracy. But


Callicles'

be

careful.

moments

before, Socrates had described


how Callicles
the Athenian
must alter

dual love, the two


please

"demoses",
them.
rejection of states rather

and

his

views and

his language to
to hear

Certainly

demos

could not

be

Callicles'

gratified

equality

or could they?

If

we

focus

on

the

relationships

beween do

Callicles'

than the relationships within states, then

arguments

indeed

please the

Athenians,

who enslaved the rest of

Greece

and rejected the

enchanting language of dike as they enlarged their empire. Pericles admits to the disheartened Athenians: the taking of the empire which they hold like a
tyrant may have been unjust (adikon), but to let it go would be dangerous

(11. 63. 2). The city


cratic politeia

must

be

viewed

from two

perspectives.

Within,

the

demo

demands equality among its citizens, isonomia; its unity derives from this equality binding all citizens together into a coherent whole. Without,
the city stands

in

unequal

deficient, desirous
to

of

relationship to her neighbors; the city stands as more, eager to take what is not its own, pleon echein,

affirm a condition of part of

early

his

speech the

inequality rather than equality. Callicles reveals incompatibility between the ground rules of
of

in the
action

within

the city and the ground rules which apply outside. He appeals to the
as

demos,
Athens

does the beloved


principles, ones

Socrates,

not

by

approving up

of their

democratic,
to make
demos'

egalitarian

which

Pericles

conjures rather

when

trying

whole and

beautiful (11.37. 1-2), but

by encouraging by
of

the

vision of

comprising the citizenry When Callicles describes the enslaving


as

itself

of

the

super-city.41

of the real man

the many, the

chains to which
and words of

he

refers

serve as a metaphor
Socrates'

for language,
words

words of praise

make the

blame. Words, strong feel shame, can language

words, the
restrain a

the many, can


and make

Polus

or an

Alcibiades

even a master of

such as

to affect actions, to enslave the


words

Gorgias flustered. Words have the capacity powerful. Gorgias is right. It is the power of
of

from

which

and yet

to reassert

Callicles tries to break away in the first half in the second half when he turns to relations

his

speech

within

the city,

where a common

language

and the common values associated with a common power of words

language
to nature,

are crucial.

To break away from the


(en wis
allois

Callicles turns is
no

first to

animals and

zoiois, 483d) tor whom there

language

of

justice

injustice,

to whom the
and

dictates
and

of nature speak

directly,
stronger

without the

intervention

of morals

virtues,

demand that the

41.

Cf.

Alcibiades'

speech to the

Athenians,

esp. vi. 18.3-7.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War have


his
more

157

than the weaker, that the lion in all

suggesting that this is true as well in whole cities and races,


examples

his generosity takes all. After Callicles turns for


represent the

to

barbarians,
who

those

who

for the Greeks

uncivilized,
who

animal-like no

beings
of

do

not speak

Greek, saying only bar-bar-bar,


what right

have
be
not

language

justice

and virtue. or

"With

(poioi

dikaidi) did Xerxes


one would

march against

Greece,

his father

against the

Scythians? Or

able

to mention myriad other cases

of

the

sort"

(483de). But Callicles does

provide us with more examples.

Is it because he has
of whom were

realized the inappropriate-

ness

of

his two examples, both


and
of

defeated

by

the weak native


remembers the

inhabitants in Scythia historian


with no

Greece? Or is it because he suddenly


who often makes clear

those wars,

Herodotus,

that those who

invade

right, those

who

take more than their share and overstep their

bounds,
given
not

are punished

by

the gods whose

jealousy (phthonos)
not

can never
Callicles'

be

escaped?

Callicles him
Plato

avoids the

issue but has

Plato

played with

speech,
point?

a set of

false

examples to prove
purpose of

his

central

but dubious

Has

Callicles'

undercut

Callicles ignores the issue

by making him appear foolish? the defeats faced by Darius and Xerxes by
Zeus

by
of

turning

next

to the gods, to swearing

(traditionally

the

distributor

justice)
which

he believes, oimai, 483c) a nomos tes physeos the Persian tyrants followed in their invasions of weaker lands. But this
that there
so

is (or

nomos tes physeos

in

neither case

may be quite different from what Callicles envisions, since did Zeus smile on the adventures of the invaders, of those who

tried to take more than their share. The unmentioned example

behind this
and

out

burst is,
animals,

of

course, Athens. The Athenians, like the barbarians

like the Concern


as

are not restrained as

they
more.

assert

their dominion over others.


subdue one state after

with one's

fair

share

does

not matter as

they

another,

they satisfy
Callicles

their

desire for

They

are

acting

on

the principles

which

suggests are endorsed

by

the gods,

which

the Athenians themselves,

as the war recorded

by

Thucydides progresses,

also suggest are santioned

by

the gods (v. 105. 1-3).

not

But Callicles turns quickly from nations to men, to individuals. He does stay long in the realm of relationships between states where his examples
raised

have
of

doubts

about

the validity

of

his beliefs,

about

the future expansion


caught
within

Athenian hegemony. Rather, he


of

considers
where

the fate

of one
of

the structure

the city, within a


where

city
men

the language
us are

justice

and

in

justice is used,
man, the
our

the strong

(katadouloumetha. 483c)
real man

by
a

our

among saying that equality is


(physin

charmed good

and enslaved and

just. The
would

having

strong

enough nature

hikanen,
He

484a),

flee

charms, (or so Callicles


which

believes,
nature

oimai, 484a), and our words (gram


484a).
would stand of

mata) and laws

oppose

(para physin,
us as

forth revealing himself as our ruler and nature would shine forth. Callicles here
describes
again

his slaves; there the justice in their

chooses to talk about a


who

man, but he

the actions of the

Athenians,

relations with other

158
cities
of

Interpretation
Greece have
shown

this

independence

of

the old values,

who

have

rejected

the idea that equality is good and just in

relationships

between states,

and who stand

forth revealing the true justice Callicles next adds to the evidence from
the pious poet

of nature.
nature

(animals)
that

words of of men
nomos

from Thebes,
violence

who proclaimed

history the Nomos, the king


and

and of

gods, turns

tes physeos which


as

into justice, that nomos, presumably the Callicles had just proclaimed, supports the actions of

Heracles (484b).
attempts

he

steals the cattle of as

Geryon,

without payment and without sale pointed

However,

Martin Ostwald has

out

in but

one

of

several

to discover the meaning of this cited passage, the "interpretation


nomos-physis

bears

the

stamp of the decades after Pindar's death,


that Pindar the
poem

controversy,

which

did

not

flourish

until several
s poem

and

it is hazardous to

retroject

into
.

Pindar'

views which were articulated wrote

only

by

later

generation.

Nor is it

likely
unto

to support the

view

that

heroic morality is law


Diomedes."42

itself

[Pindar]
and
of

makes a special point of of

emphasizing
opponent not see

unheroic qualities

in

Heracles

stressing the arete


subtlety.

his

Callicles,

though, does
Platonic does
not

not catch this

He does

the alternative reading

which would suggest

that the strong only

declare interest

what
of

is just,

or as another

character phrased

it, justice is
well,
neither

the

the

stronger.43

Callicles
nor, we

know the

poem

the words, he admits

(484b),

may surmise, the meaning of the poem. He must thus turn to paraphrasing. He does not spend his time memorizing poems, the activity for the affected, the effete, those who do not act. He knows as little about poetry at this point as he

does

about

philosophy,

which

he

now urges

Socrates to

abandon as

he

moves

to the second half of

his
to

speech.

Callicles is
second

eager

reveal

the truth, his truth, to Socrates as he starts this


truth"

half. He had
the

called
of

Socrates "in

(482c)

demagogue

at

the begin
of

ning

of

first half

his speech, but he did

not understand the

meaning

demagogue, much less the truth. Again he claims he is going to turn to the truth (484c), but his two truths are irreconcilable. One truth, that Socrates is a demagogue, hardly conincides with the second truth that Socrates
the word
as a philosopher will

be

unable

to defend himself before the many.


not consistent

Callicles'

understanding he does
to
not

of what

is true is

from

one moment

to the next, this

unless we were

to see him as equating philosophy and


argument

demogoguery, but
not understand

do. His

is that the

philosopher

does

how

function before the masses, to

control the

many

rather

than be controlled

by

them.

he

Callicles is inconsistent precisely because he makes a fundamental shift as moves from one part of his speech to the next. In the first part, he had
42.

"Pindar, Nomos,

and

123.

See

also the references

in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 69 (1965), p. in A. E. Taylor, Plato: The Man and His Work (Cleveland and New
p.

Heracles,"

York: World Publishing, 1956),


43.

117,

n. 2; and

Dodds,

pp. 270-272.

Republic,

1.338c.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


dealt
about realm
with

159

the superman

or

supercity, the Athens

of

Greece. He had talked there

the relationship of one city to another, the law of power and of

force,

the

in

which

force

and

fraud

are

virtues.44

The

second

half

of

the

speech

deals

with relationships within

the city

denied in the first half. The


within

second

city based on an equality which had been half deals with the survival of individuals among
equal citizens speech.

the set

of

political
of

relationships

survival, not

leadership, is

the topic

the second

Callicles'

part of

What is

neces

sary between states is different from what is needed within states. The opposi tion in the first half of the speech was between dike, justice, the battle cry of
the weaker, and those who are strong, who

ever, as it
assumes an
worse

is

deny equality. Within cities, how by Callicles, there is a conflict between philosophy which inequality between better and worse individuals, between better and
posed which assumes an

pleasures, and politics


the law.
not refer

equality

of all

citizens,

good

and

bad, before

Callicles does
rather

immediately
must

to politics as he downgrades philosophy;


of

the phrases

he

uses suggest

the level

politics, that

of

reputation, of

seeming, of
or

appearance.
eudokimos

One
aner

have the

reputation of

being
and

kalos kagathos
must

being

an

(a

respected

man,

484d),

one

know

the

pleasures and passions of

others,

what appeals
nomon aperioi

to them and what

will repel

them.

Philosophers
to

remain not

only

(inexperienced in the

laws)

but

unable

manipulate

the opinions of the many.

They

are thus
rather

laughable,
affairs,

worthy

of such scorn as

Polus heaps

on

Socrates (462e), in
private or

than esteem.

They
as

are

laughable

whether

they

participate

in

public

just

or so

Callicles believes (oimai, 484c)

are

hoi

politikoi when

they

spend

time in the activities of the philosophers, as indeed Callicles


end of

becomes

by

the

this dialogue.

The

inconsistency
encourages

is transparent

and

has been

frequently

pointed out.

First,
their

Callicles

the total disregard of the opinions of the many,


and

enchanting phrases, their enslaving nomoi,


attention

to the

opinions of we

the many, the weak

subsequently he encourages who have enslaved the

super-

heroes. How
recognize

can

reconcile

these two views? We can


albeit not clearly,

do

that Callicles is distinguishing,

so only if we between relation

ships within and relationships without the city.

The city
the

cannot endure

easily
the the
of of

the individual
Pericles.45

who stands over survive

all, the

Alcibiades,

Themistocles,

even

It

cannot

the superhero and the praise of

first

part.

The Archelaus,

so admired

by Polus,

is to be

inequality killed by one

his

own men.

Callicles

quotes more

lines
an

of

poetry; this time he turns to

a more contem

porary author, Euripides, within states, he turns to


44. 45.
of

Athenian. Now that he talks

about relationships

a poet

from his

own

city

rather

than to a poet who

Hobbes, Leviathan,
Socrates
were all

ed.

makes a point

later in the dialogue

Michael Oakeshott (Oxford: Blackwell, i960), p. of emphasizing how the great

83

(Ch. XIII).

political

leaders

Athens

badly

treated

by

the demos (515c and 5l6e).

160
speaks

Interpretation
for
all
of

Greece. He

quotes

from

a passage

most

likely

spoken

by
do

Zethus the herdsman in best. It is


we all

Euripides'

Antiope. We

all praise that which we

a plea

for individuality,

a recognition of the

different
assures

abilities which

have. It is from
The

such natural

difference,

Socrates
not

in

the Repub

lic,

that the true city

is built. But Callicles does


correct

agree

with

his

compa

triot Euripides.

most

approach

or

so

Callicles believes (oimai,


the other, the
Euripides'

485a)

is to

partake of

two

ways of

life

and

then

choose one over

chosen one always

being

politics.

He does

not encourage

the

diversity
philosophy.

Zethus

praises

and

he does

not

encourage

the pursuit of

The

eudokimos aner

is the

one who appears


no

to have followed the

proper pattern of

growth, the one who old, the


one who no

longer

engages

in the

pursuits of a child when


when

he is
to

longer

engages

in philosophizing

he is

of an age

enter politics.

Yes, philosophy is fine


scorns

when one

is

youth, but it is a

thing

most

laughable
many.

when an old man practices

it. The

philosopher

is different from the


stands

He

their opinions and their uniformity.


with

He

aloof, off

in

corner

whispering, the

two

or

three other men, not


many.

joining

in the
the

center of

activities,

varied meetings of

the

He is

not a part of

whole and

does

not

care about the opinions and values of the whole. of and uninterested
earlier section of

The individual, independent


stood at

in the

opinions of

the whole, who


now seen as

the center of the the survival and

Callicles'

speech, is

threatening
speech

freedom

of the

With the
there

shift

city on which Callicles depends. in focus from the first half of the in the
meanings of

to the second

half,
who

is

a comparable shift

slavery

and

freedom. At first the


or the

free

man

is the

one who and

breaks the
The

chains of the nomoi,

Athens

subdues other cities

threatens those who do not submit. This is the free


want.

dom Polus
around

and

Callicles

second concept of

freedom is
man who

one centered

the man who submits to

his chains, the


help.46

"liberal"

is judged

his

peers as

noble, who possesses the


when

requisite social graces and who can

by help
one

his friends
held back
one who

they

need
of

his

The

slave

in the first

section

is

by

the opinions
not attend

the many; the slave in the second section is the

does

to the opinions of the many, the one like Socrates


shows

whose pursuit of well educated

philosophy Such
an

man, to continue to

him to be illiberal, to lack the graces of a lisp and to be unable to help his friends or

harm his

enemies.

(douloprepes),
around

unfree

(aneleutheron, 485b-d)
does
a slave who

individual is unmanly (anandron), like a slave such a man deserves a boxing


is too
stupid

the ears, just


man

as

to understand directions.

The free But


erous.

(eleutheros) is

the one trained to earn respect

in battle

and

in

speech, the one trained to participate in the activities of the city.


once

again, as at the

He

appears

liberal,

eager to

beginning of help

the

dialogue, Callicles
makes

appears gen
a

his friends. He

speech to

46.

See Dodds,

p. 274.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War

161
not meant

Socrates,
him. It is
Euripides'

one

filled

with

good

feeling (eunoia,
he had

486a),

to

anger

a speech modeled again on

that of the restless and active Zethus in


rejected moments
what

Antiope, Zethus
extensive.
. .

whose advice suffer

before. The Zethus

conceit

is

"I happen to

(peponthenai)
words

Euripides'

does before Amphion.


as

There

come

to

me

to speak to you such


act

he

[Zethus]
act

spoke

before his

brother"

(485c).
and

Don't

like

youth,

Socrates.47

Give up

philosophy.
as

Become

mature
or so

learn to function in the


who

city.

Don't

shamefully,

do those

I believe (oimai, 485a)


to be accused
and

pursue

philosophy for too long, allowing

yourself

killed,

appearing
power of

dizzy
any

with your mouth

who might wish

gaping open in the courtroom, subject to the to harm you. Don't allow others to be rude to
example, 461c). Don't lose your
give
power

you

(as,

we might

note,

was

Polus, for

to

help
is

yourself. of called
city.

Be

persuaded

by

me,

up

the private

life. "Practice the

affairs,"

music
what

encourages

Callicles,

again

quoting Zethus (486c). Avoid


who

by

the Athenians apragmosune , a noninvolvement in the affairs


an

of the

There is
of music

irony

in this point; it is Amphion


build the
walls of

through

his

knowledge

is

able to

Thebes,

whose

lyre

moves
private caught and

the stones out of which the wall


music most

is built. It is he
urges:

helps the

city.

Yet Callicles

practicing his "Don't imitate those men


who

by

in debates

about

petty things, but those for


(486cd).
given

whom

there is life and opinion

goods"

many other Callicles has


and spoken
speech.

his

speech

to

his dear Socrates (o

phile

Socrates,
not

486a)
trust

with

warm

brotherly
offer

feelings. Socrates, though, does

this

He

Callicles'

questions

(489c).

Why
take

does Callicles
seriously?

sincerity and suggests that it is ironic Socrates this friendly advice, which Socrates
part explain

does
of
not

not

Does this in
Callicles'

the shift

in the two halves


of

Callicles'

speech?

Is

speech who

a cover

for his fear

Socrates? Is

Socrates the

superman

does

see

the dependence of the weak on the to shake

nomoil

clearly the fallibility of the nomoi, Is not Socrates able to rise above,

free from the


nomos

chains of

opinion, to shift most

facilely
not

in his discussion
come

between

and

physis, to recognize that

dike does

from the for

opinion of

the

many?

Does

not

this

knowledge,
not

this awareness indeed enable


poor

him to become

demagogue? Does he

then pose serious threats

Callicles,
speech

the one who

because

of

his

eros wishes to appease the many?


of

Callicles is frightened is
an attempt

of the

power

Socrates;

the second half of the


philosopher

to subdue the philosopher, to fit the

into the

city

rather than allow

philosopher

is

not useless;

him to break away and stand above the other slaves. The he is not simply foolish. The philosopher is threaten

ing, threatening
nize the

to the power and stature of a Callicles.


nature

Philosophy

distinction between
quotes

and

convention, as

does recog Callicles points out in


one word significantly.

47.

When Callicles
of meirakiodei

the passage

from Euripides, he
Callicles'

changes

Instead

(youthful, childish) in
"Gorgias"

version, there

is in
p.

the original gunaikomimoi.

Cf. Gonzalez Lodge, ed., Plato,

(Boston: Ginn. 1980),

147.

162

Interpretation
attack against

his initial

Socrates. Those

men

in supposedly whispering
chains and
paralyze

corners

care not a whit about


ments.

the opinions of the many; the

the enchant those tied

They

are able, should

up by the nomoi of the in corners, two or three at a time. They speak out in the open out in the of the dialogue (447a)agora, as Socrates has informed us right at the beginning The philosophers thus threaten the survival of the city for they are privy to
the secrets of Callicles. Socrates

they want, to enslave, subdue, many. Indeed, they do not even whisper in isolation

is

Callicles'

enemy.

The

appeal

to give up to

philosophy, Socrates recognizes, is

not sincere.

It is

an appeal meant

disarm is

Socrates,
an appeal
reputation
Socrates'

to fit him into the

model what

of the city, the equality of the city. It

to make him value


and

the city values, most of all to


another.48

life, but
pretends

also

freedom from

subjection

Callicles

that

pursuit of

philosophy is

a mistake rather than


motives

a conscious choice.

But

Socrates'

because this

assumption about

is clearly incorrect, he
each with or

must

try

to disarm
Callicles'

and subdue speech

Socrates.

pending
speech

on

whether

is divided into two halves, one looks at the city from


oligarch?49

its

own

truth

de
The

within

from

outside.

have contradictory goals. Scholars have debated: is The answer to such a question Callicles a democrat, or is he an must. depend on which half one reads, which must thus suggest the inadequacy
thus appears to
of such an analysis.

Let

tions aside and see

leave debates concerning particular political orienta Callicles as the political man, the man of action, like
us
city.

Zethus the herdsman, like Athens the he is the The


stone against which

Whether he be democrat life is to be tested

or

oligarch,

the

philosopher's response

and

justified.

philosopher must

do this in
of

to both parts of
on

Callicles'

speech; he
and

must show

the

deficiencies

both

visions

the one

hand,

the superman

the supercity who scorn the opinions of the many, on the other the political
man who

is dependent

on

the opinions

of

the many, his beloved demos.

Callicles has

proclaimed that the

better

man must

have more, that this is just


must

by

nature, that this is the law of


man?

nature.

What, though, Socrates


you and

ask,

describes the better Callicles


clarifies

What is this justice that


Socrates'

Pindar
are

praise'.'

This

only

under

questioning.

The better

the stronger,

the stronger are the many. turns

Suddenly, Callicles,

Socrates'

under come

manipulation,

into

democrat (458d).

Superiority

does indeed

from the many,

the unity of large numbers of


48.

individuals, in

the assembly and on the battle-

Freedom is

not

being

slave

tinguish between slave and free. Cf. 5l4d and 515a; in 514c
or women.
vision.

for Callicles, but Socrates does not in his discourse dis he does not speak differently to men
is
a significant attack on
Callicles'

Considering

Callicles

emphasis on manliness, this

49.

G. B. Kerferd, "Plato's Treatment

of

Callicles in the

Gorgias,"

Proceedings of
democrat,
p. 52.

the

Cam

bridge Philological Society, 20 (1974), p. 48 on either side. Kerferd sides with those who

and

in

notes 2 and as a

3, describes the various arguments

see

Callicles

An Unspoken Theme in
field. But Callicles
superiority
and

Plato'

Gorgias: War

163

will not admit such

a simple equation
who

between

numerical

the best. There are those


who use

know how to

manipulate assem

blies,

the

demagogues

how to

use small numbers of men as

language well, and there are those who know if they were many on the battlefields (for
clarifies.
cf.

example, the Greeks against the Persians). Callicles

The better is
489d)
nor

not

simply the many


political

"the litter

slaves"

of

(doulon, 488c;
of

is it

those who are stronger only in terms


Polus'

bodily

strength.

The better is the

ruler,

Archelaus

Callicles'

and

man of

affairs, one devoted to

the music of pragmata, that


who

is,

those who rule over others,

(491b, d)

those

are

able

to accomplish in deed what


of which

they have in their

minds.50

The

natural

justice

he had

spoken relates to the rulers within

the city and

the

masters of empires.

But Socrates introduces before in


oneself.
Callicles'

a new
nor

level

of

interaction
or

which

had

not

been

raised
within

speech,

by

Polus

Gorgias

namely ruling
this
notion.

"Come now, my
ruled?"

friend,

what of

themselves? Are
with

they ruling something


When
at

or

being
call

(49 id). Callicles has difficulty


out

last he understands, he blurts


You

offensively,

"You are cute

(hedus,

sweet?).

fools

(sophronas)"

moderate

(49ie). Socrates, according to Callicles,


of

is offering
"How

a new or

different form

slavery,

again

the obverse side of

mastery.

could

the

happy

human

being (eudaimon)

be

slave

(douleuon)

to

anything?"

(49id)

even, Callicles asks, to himself. No, the

one who

is to live

correctly (orthos) must release his passions, satisfy his desires, and constantly fill himself up (apopimplanai). This or so Callicles believes (oimai, 492a)

is

not

possible

of manliness

they
along

see

the many and thus, because of their lack find fault with the satisfying of one's desires; (anandrian), they it as shameful intemperance. The truth (492bc) is, Socrates, that

(ou

dunatonf for

freedom is
with

not

mastery

over oneself,

but the total

release of one's passions

the power

(dunamis)
and

to satisfy those passions.

Slavery
life

is

being
than

unable

to

fill

what

is empty,
thus

unable

to

find that
and

elusive

missing half in
worse

Aristophanes'

model,

being

miserable

finding

death.
edge

Socrates'

problem, according to
epithumia

the importance of the

Callicles, is that he does not acknowl for happiness and for life (492c). To
As Hobbes has lead to
to
so

be

without

desires is to be dead
of

a stone or a corpse. are startling.

The foreshadowings
us, these desires

Hobbes

these

insatiable desires
one to

must

war.52

vividly shown The urge to


the
power

satisfy
50.

one's

desires leads

build up
see

one's strength,

develop
same

See preceding footnote


satisfaction of

39.

We
must

Callicles here encountering the


with references
makes

problems

as

Thrasymachus: for both superiority


directed to the Socrates
Socrates'

be defined

to the mind, albeit the mind

desires. It is this

which

them

and which makes attention.

the Athens

they both
in

represent and which

both interlocutors worthy Pericles extolls worthy

of

of

51

Forms We

of ou

dunaton

appear

three times
point

492a.

52.
work

should

not

forget

Hobbes'

at this

that

first currently

acknowledged

published

is

a translation of

Thucydides.

164
to

Interpretation
whether

satisfy those desires,

that power comes in the form of rhetoric, wiles; it is the


power of conquest,

military strength,
of

or manipulative

the denial

equality, the vision of the world as comprised of masters and

slaves.

Socrates
He does

accuses not

Callicles: he does
sufficient

not understand the

importance

of equality.

pay denies power

attention

to

over others

and

geometry (508a). Equality is a realm which emphasizes friendship. Callicles, the one with
lives

desires to be satisfied, the


accept
equality.53

one who

by having

power over
or as a

others, cannot

with other cities

happy

with

city interacting equality is to die. The self-satisfied city and the self-satisfied individual, their equality, are weak. Sparta had allowed others to trample her
accept

To

as an

individual

in the mud, to
Callicles'
486c)"

punch

her in the face. The Corinthian's

advice

to

Sparta

parallels

advice

to Socrates. "Be practiced in the music of affairs


1.72.2-4).

(pragmata,
which

(cp. Thucydides,
pursuit of

Athens the tyrant


pursuit

of

the Aegean has been


will

active

in her

inequality, in her
with even

of

the power

enable as a

her to fill herself


no

the wealth of cities outside.

There is for Athens

city
a

final resting place;


The city

the one Pericles urges in his funeral oration

is only
are

temporary resting
outside who

point, to be moved beyond once the exigencies of

war subside.

must always

be in

a condition of movement sit

because there
practice

those

threaten

it. The Sparta that tried to is

still, to

its traditional

hesuchia,
within

could not.

Political life
pursuit

the realm of one

city to

another

life

of

the constant

of more.

What Callicles

cannot understand nature

because

of

his failure to
states

study geometry is that the disharmonious


cannot

of relations

between

be transferred to
built

relations within

states, that the tyrannical city pursuing

more outside must ensure an

(koinonia)
eagerness act

are

within

equality upon which friendships and community (5070-5083). The tension in Callicles is between
and

for

power over

others,

the desire

graciously in his

so as

to build up a store of

friends

for friends, causing Callicles to who will protect him in a


But because he is
not
not

time of need should others threaten him (cf.


sincere
as

487cd).S4

really his equals, his friends do not protect him. While he pretends that Socrates is his friend and that he cares for Socrates, he nevertheless tries to control
and

professions of

friendship, because he does

treat others

Socrates

becomes irate in the


ninth

and withdrawn when

he

cannot.

It is

an

irony

of

history
for his
53.

that Callicles
survival

becomes dependent

Socrates'

on

pupil and

friend

alone

minds of subsequent generations.

Note

Hobbes'

way out of the is not the equal

state of nature

of

of nature with its emphasis on the acceptance of equality as the (Levithan Chap. XV). We must, of course, remember that Socrates those whom he guides in his discourse with them. On this level fear is
Callicles' Socrates'

law

justified. However, unlike Callicles, inequality is private desires by domination over others. On this level
54.

not

for the
fear is
is that

sake

of satisfaction

of

Callicles'

not

justified.
these
men.

Dodds,

p.

282, summarized the evidence on the

background

and character of of a

He

concludes:

"The

general picture which the evidence suggests

group

of ambitious

young men. drawn from the jeunesse doree of Athens description of as 'the typical Athenian
Callicles'

It certainly does

not support

Lamb's

Democrat.'"

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


Later in the dialogue Socrates is to describe famous
political

165
most powerful and

Athens'

leaders
with

as

ones

who

gorge the

city,

will

fill her

(empepleand all

kasi, 5i8e-5i9a)
such

harbors

and

dockyards,

with walls and

imports,

filth (phluarion). The politicians, Themistocles, Cimon, Pericles, all try to make Athens a master over her neighbors so as to fill the with such city
garbage so

that the citizens do not


are

feel

lack

or

the need to pursue the


what

truly

beautiful. These
city,
will

the politicians who are praised for

they

give to the

hegemony
be

over other

Greeks,

while

those such as Callicles and Alcibiades

seized and

held

responsible should this

hegemony
fills does
not

or garbage and satisfies

be lost, it. The

should

the Athenian

demos be deprived Socrates tries


listeners

of that which

form

of

dialogue

which

to encourage

not profess

to fill the

participants and silent


not reach

with anything.

inequality
proposes
nor

conclusions or victory point among the interlocutors. The conception of in this dialogue is not the power to fill another

any

gratify them. It does (457a). Thus there is no mastery or


power which and

It does

Socrates

satisfy her desires,


of power

to

make

another

serve

one's

own

interests. It is
of

a conception

only be understood in terms better consists in making one aware of


which can

making

one

better,
not

what one

lacks
not

making one the dockyards or

and

imports
vs.

or other such

filth

but

virtue.

The Gorgias is

philosophy as a way of life. It is also about Rhetoric leads to domination over the opinions of others,
over

simply about rhetoric different kinds of power.


war

to the domination
comes

the bodies

and wealth of others.

The desire for domination

from

dissatisfaction

with what one of some of

has,

and a supposition

that domination will

lead

to the fulfilment
to what

those desires. Polus and Callicles give expression twentieth century formulation of politics who how. Socrates is to question that formulation of

is to become the

classic and

gets what, where, when,

politics and the conception of power

implicit in it.
with

Because the

politicians

fill the city

harbors

and walls,

they do

not make

the citizens better.

They

offer

them the satisfaction of ports, walls, and

imports,
makes

but the

citizens

therefore are not made to the

feel the lack

of what

them better

their lack of what

is truly beautiful.
(cf.

They

are not pricked

by

the

Socratic
sium 2 1

irony

into

Alcibiades'

a sense of needfulness

experience, Sympo

6a). What lack they do feel comes from a desire for more of what has already given them pleasure, from the passions which once filled are quickly better.55 reignited. Socrates finds fault with the politicians for not making citizens
But
we

may

ask

why

should nor

they? To make them better human beings

does

not

help
make

the politicians,

the city in its

drive for mastery

and

domination. To
and

them better would be to alert them to what

they truly lack,

that

is

55. Scholars have had difficulty understanding how Pericles made the citizens worse, as Socrates claims, rather than better. They turn to such points as payment for attendance at the assembly and for military service. Cf., e.g., Lodge, 237; W. H. Thompson. The Gorgias of Plato (London. George Bell, 1905), p. 226; and Dodds, pp. 335-356. The problem here is that all

these
not

analyses

look

at

the question from

a political

perspective,

from the

perspective of the city,

from the

perspective of

the philosopher.

166

Interpretation
be
satisfied

lack

which could never

by

the city nor

by

the

politicians who

give

them walls and the

harbors into

which the goods of the world

flow.

The politicians, though,

can never provide

Filling
nor

the city is like

filling

the

leaky

for the city a state of completion. jar (493ab). The walls are never enough,
external conquests,

the

harbors,

nor

the ships, and thus there is the need for

for domination

because Athens herself, like the human body, can satisfied. It is the constant need for more, however, that never be completely leads to stature, and the ambivalence surrounding her position in
over others
Athens'

Greece

at the end of

the fifth century, an ambivalence captured the


speech of

brilliantly by
is

Thucydides, especially in
both
mired,
with

the Corinthians at Sparta. Athens

enslaver as she acquires


shameful and glorious.

more,

and model

to be envied, hateful and ad

All this is the

result of

her

refusal

to be content

little,

to deaden her desires. And yet, of course, she loses the war; en
politicians such as

couraged

by

Alcibiades to desire too much,


not

she tries to get

too

much power. more.

The Athenians do

limit

or question

the nature of their

desires for Callicles

They

refuse

to engage in the questioning Socrates urges upon


Gorgias.56

during

the second half of the

Callicles,
man of

eager to please

both demoses,

refuses

to accept any
with

deadening

of a

the desires as a necessary result of the dialogue he has

Socrates. He is

action,

a man whose

first thought
and

display
mastery

of words

is

of war

on seeing Socrates arrive late for a battle. He is a free man, unlimited in his

actions, as far as he understands himself. He is not a slave, subject to the


of another.

He is

not one to accept the notion of


an

completion,

of

ends,

of quiet.

Nor is Socrates. Callicles is


Socrates'

Athenian. So is Socrates. The dif

ference between the two is


and

willingness to

distinguish between inaccessible

good
aim

bad desires, those


and

which will

have

final

even a

if

humanly

or goal

those

which

only lead to
Callicles'

desire for

more.

This difference in the


a

must also stem

from different

conceptions of

power, vision,

power over others as

master and slave relationships of power

and power over oneself

to

distinguish between

good and

bad

passions and to choose the

former. He

Callicles
continues

refuses to participate

seriously in the

subsequent conversation.
guest

concerning worse and better relationship between pleasure and pain and cessation of desire. The subsequent discussion carried on by Socrates in a comedy of his own never resolves these questions. Do pain and pleasure cease at the making moment of fulfilment? The lovers spoken of by Diotima and Alcibiades and

50 1 c).

only to be gracious, to please his honored Socrates' He refuses to engage in discussions


and

Gorgias (497c,

desires,

the

Aristophanes feel
the

pain as

does any
growth,

passionate

being. The lover is thus

to pursue

beautiful,
is
no

to improve the self


no

because
no

of a sense of

there

change,

movement

toward the complete

lack. Without that lack, or full

human being. Socrates

cannot and

does

not encourage the cessation of

desire,

56.

Cf. Anytus in the Meno

and

Socrates'

description

of

his life

of

questioning in

the

Apology.

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


or eros.

167
or

He

urges

the

tempering

of

eros,

whether

for individual into

for city equality

(507d)
which

and

its transformation from

what

leads to making

some men or cities


an

masters and

free,

some

tyrants and some subjects and slaves,

Callicles

cannot

fully

understand and refuses to

try

to understand as he

withdraws

from the
speech

conversation and the search

for true

pleasures.
on

Callicles'

had been fraught


about

with

inconsistencies because
and

the one

hand he had talked


bound together
a

free

men and

slaves,

then about the city, a city

by friendships, a city populated by others about whom one in which one survives on the esteem of others. The two perspec cares, city tives clashed. The inequality of the first half clashed with the equality of the
second

half. Socrates tells Callicles that Callicles does


on power over others and cannot

not understand

equality,

that

he focuses
and

thus cannot understand

power over

himself,
he
and

because he
in
a

distinguish between
the

good pleasures and on

bad,

cannot exist

searching for

a whole as

community it

such as

Socrates envisions, based

friendship

pursues

truly beautiful.

The topic

of war

does
the

not surface

frequently

in the Gorgias. It
as

would almost war which were not

be

possible to read

dialogue,
And the

and

indeed many have,


continuation must

if the

dominated Greece going


on.

during

the twenty-eight-year span of the dialogue


war's

But it

was.

influence

our under

standing of the conditions which existed within the city and within the indi The city states of Greece could not exist without an awareness of the external threats which faced them, both from other Greeks and from the bar
vidual.

barians

on the north and to the east.

The Peleponnesian War dominated Athens

at the end of the

fifth century

b.c

Euripides, Aristophanes,
Socrates'

and

Thucydides

suggest some of the responses


war and

to this

war. and

life

was touched

by

the

Plato's understanding of Socrates be disassociated from that war. The Gorgias is generally
moral choices

Socrates'

place

in the city

cannot

recognized as a

dialogue
one

about

rhetoric,

and about of

concerning

what

type of

life

is to lead. The background


to this

war, the

unspoken

theme of the

dialogue,

gives

dialogue,

as

to cities

themselves,

a greater

depth,

where rhetoric

a model with
war

for victory and in the background. The moral choices in their turn depend its
concern

activity of the city, conquest, irrespective of dike, of the


a surface

is only

on the existence

of a

city striving for its


raises

own wholeness within an ordered cosmos


whether

(508a).

War,

however,
is
tale is a

the question of

that the

wholeness

ever possible prior


parable

to death

whether

leaky
and

for city or for individual jar of the Sicilian or Italian


as

that must apply to the city as


power which

well

to the
see as

individual

as

long

as she/he/it

lives. The

Polus

Gorgias

deriving

from

rhetoric

is

limited

power

though

limited to

a power within

the city.

they may call it the greatest good. It is Callicles, like Athens and her leaders, sees
and over other peoples.

a greater power,

a power over other cities

But that

168
power

Interpretation

passions ness

also limited by its never-ending nature. To live is to want; to kill the is to be dead. Neither the city nor the individual can ever find whole while alive in the human body. The completion sought through power over

is

oneself which city's

characterizes

the philosopher's life may come


war

closer

than the

continual

search through of

for

power over others. ever so

War becomes the

symbol of

the

inability

the city to be complete


and not the

long,

at

least,

as

cities are comprised of


Pericles'

bodies

bodiless

warriors

and memories of

funeral

oration.

The

answer which

philosophy in the

person of

Socrates

gives

to Athens and
through the

to Callicles is not a
wars of

wholeness nor a completion

never accessible

the city, but a transformation of political activity


one of

from

one of

domina but

tion to
which will

making

citizens

better,

that

is,

to lead them into a condition in

they

will not

be dependent

on others

either as master or as slaves

be

wholes

in themselves

and not controlled

by

the opinions, the

values and

nomoi of

those surrounding them. This

is

not so that the

individual
not so

will

be

able

to dominate others, but so that she can

dominate herself,
so

that the world

becomes divided into


and

slaves and

masters, but

that there
abhors
made

is
the

no such concept concept of con

the

master over others

disappears.

Philosophy
whole,

quest

(457d),

of masters and slaves.

The best person,

best

by

the activities others, just

of the true politician, would as the

be

a complete

not a ruler over

best city
neither

would

be

a complete whole and not need to

have

hegemony
complete

over other cities.

But,
person

the best person nor the best city

is possible; is alive,

neither

the

without

needs,

at

least

so

long

as she

nor

the complete city

existing in isolation from other cities can come into being. Philosophers, as Socrates so vividly demonstrates in both the Apology and the Crito, is very
much a part of

the city. The philosopher

is

not

self-sufficient; the

philosopher

cannot exist without the city.


whole.

Likewise the city does


cities.

not exist as a self-sufficient

It

exists within a set of relationships with other cities. awareness


of other

Wholeness

would

exclude reveals

an

The

chaos

of

the Peloponnesian War

definitively for the Greeks


walls.57

their participation in a world that goes beyond

the confines of the city


Thucydides'

presentation of war comes

from

a careful articulation of para

digmatic

events.

The

whole war

is

understood

by comprehending
avoids

in detail the
of

specific events which mark

its

progress.

The Gorgias
records.

the

details

the

war, the time-bound events which


events exist are

history

Nevertheless, for Plato


references

those

in the background. The


in
Callicles'

actions and the motivations of the


assorted

Athenians

reflected

speech, in the

to the various

political

leaders

who

turn

Athens into

an empire and a

threat to the

freedom

of

most men call peace is only a word; in fact there exists by nature between every city and every other The city of the Laws tries to escape this fact. The city of the Republic does not. The city of Athens cannot. Political philosophy cannot be disassociated from wars, from the topic of history. 57.
a state of unproclaimed war
city."

Cf. Laws, 626a, "What

An Unspoken Theme in Plato's Gorgias: War


others, who
make

169

Athens

itself

serves

to alert us

society greater than herself. But the war to the limitations of both politics and philosophy. The
part of a over

political

eros

for power, for domination

others,

suggests

the limits and

deficiencies
whole, a

of

the city. Pericles had wanted for an instant to treat Athens as a


all else

beautiful form for


every
city.

in Greece to imitate, to

raise

her

above

the

activities of

But he in

could not.

strates,

cannot

survive

a world

The city at rest, as Sparta demon that is in motion. Athens was part of the
Athens'

Greek

system of states and

Socrates similarly is

a part of

activities.
without an which

Neither city

nor

individual, including

the philosopher, can survive

awareness of

the deficiencies

which make one a part of a

larger unit,

in

its turn,

comprised of

human bodies, is deficient

and

lacking

completion.

The

unspoken

theme of this

dialogue helps to
neither

reveal this

which can never recognize whose

be escaped, life

by

politicians

underlying dependence like Callicles who fail to


nor

that the
entails

as master

is

also

the

life

as

slave,

the philosopher

life

the continual search


example.58

for

what one

lacks,

a search of which

this discourse is but one

58. Leo Strauss, The City Press, Phoenix Ed., 1978), p.

and

Man (1964;
Aristotle

rpt.

Chicago it
.

and

London:

University

of

Chicago
self-

239, has
and

written at

the end of his

essay

on

Thucydides: "The dependence


kind
Thucydides'

sufficiency
a

of

the city

as

Plato

presuppose

excludes the city's

on such

society

of cities or

its

being

essentially

a member of

it

The lesson
philosophy; it
presupposes.

of

work
of
self-

renders questionable a presupposition of classical political

excludes the

sufficiency

of the

sufficient nor

city is it essentially
necessarily

which classical

political

a part of a good or

"society"

of order which presence of and virtue

characterized

the
on

philosophy just order comprising many or all cities. The lack of the cities or, in other words, the omni
the highest aspirations of any city toward

The city is

neither

self-

War

puts a much

lower ceiling

justice
that

than

classical

from the
which

evidence of

philosophy might seem to have the Gorgias, Plato is very much aware of the limits
political
War"

admitted."

would argue

on

human

achievement

the "omnipresence of

imposes. Classical

political

philosophy does

not

ignore the

polemos with which

the dialogue Peri Rhetorikes begins.

The Good

Life, Slavery,

and

Acquisition:

Aristotle's Introduction to Politics


Mary P. Nichols
Catholic

University

of America

Modern
argument

readers of

Aristotle's Politics

are often embarrassed

by

Aristotle's
con poli

for

natural

slavery,

and perplexed

by

demnation

of commerce.

They

often attribute

his seemingly unqualified these features of Aristotle's

tics to the prejudices of

his

time.1

shall

argue, in contrast, that Aristotle inten slavery, and that this failure
mankind's

tionally fails
points

to

demonstrate the
of

existence of natural
of

to the

deeper issue

Book I

the Politics

dependence

on

or

slavery to nature. Masters enslave other


those who

rule

benefit from

being

because they deserve to ruled, but because masters are naturally


men not

needy.

By

satisfying
which

some of man's

basic needs,

commerce removes the neces


makes possible men over

sity

of

slavery, and therewith its justification. Commerce thus

political

free

men.

life, Commerce, however,


characterized
and wealth

is

characterized

by

political

rule, the rule of free

also

inhibits
rule

political

life to the

extent

that

politics

is

by

freedom from
Aristotle

by
on

the

bodily
it

pleasures which

commerce

provide.

condemns

commerce,
also

for

while

it

helps to free

man

from his initial dependence


natural

nature,

inhibits his
or

actualizing his distinctive sharing in speech about the


that commerce effects thus
of nature

capacity

advantageous and

his capacity for politics, the just. The freedom from bad
aspect

for

nature
com

has both

a good and a

due to the

plexity

itself. This complexity in

nature makes possible

Aristotle's

choice of a politics that subordinates

living
him to

to

living

well.

Aristotle discovered life.

the openness of nature, which allows

construct a politics wherein man's

dependence
i.
should

on nature

is

not slavish and commerce serves political


not

Sir David Ross, for example, writes, "It is, though regrettable,
regard as

belonging

to the

nature of things an arrangement

that was so

surprising that Aristotle familiar a part of


p.

everyday Greek life as slavery Aristotle's condemnation of the


prejudice against trade as an

was."

Aristotle (London:
class

Methuen,

1953),
of

241.

Ross finds

commercial

"too much a

reflexion

the ordinary Greek

illiberal p. 243. See also Emest Barker, The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle (New York. Dover, 1959), pp. 368, 375-76, and 389. More recently, R. G. Mulgan explains Aristotle's argument for natural slavery in the following way: "We
must not

forget
where

that he
slaves,

is writing

within a not

society
make

which

took the existence of


entire

granted

and

though

they did

up the

responsible

for the

marginal surplus of wealth and

leisure

which made

slavery for labour force, were largely Greek culture and civilization

possible."

Mulgan finds that "no one, in the


slavery."

ancient

world, as far as we

know,

advocated

the

abolition of

Consequently, "[ajgainst
slavery
was natural

the background of a general acceptance of slavery,


was

the

debate be

about slaves

whether

not,

as

it

seems

to us,
were

about whether

there

slaves."

should

but

about

why there

should

be

Hence there

to slavery is natural, or might makes right. Since the latter justification of Aristotle, Aristotle is left with the former. Aristotle's Political Theory, An Introduction for Students

only two slavery is

alternatives:

"unthinkable"

of Political

Theory

(Oxford: Clarendon

Press,

1977),

pp. 43~44-

172

Interpretation

I
Near the

beginning
sake of

of

the

Politics, Aristotle
exists

says

that "the city comes


life"

into

being
31).2

for the

life, but

for the

sake of the good

(i252b30-

Commentators have
this
statement.3

not given sufficient attention

to the

problematic char

acter of

genesis and the end of

What is the relationship between the end of a thing's its existence? According to Aristotle, something comes

into

being

for the

sake of

its

natural

end, the

realization of

its

perfection.

The

acorn, for example, comes into being for the to understand how something can have both

sake of

the oak tree. It is

difficult

an end of of

its

genesis and an end


teleology.4

its existence, given the Moreover, Aristotle speaks


of

common

understanding
one

Aristotle's

even of artificial

things as

having
itself,"

ends peculiar

to

themselves. The shoe


article of
of

has two uses,

"peculiar to

the other as an

exchange, although the shoe "did not come into

being
for

for the

sake

exchange"

(1257313). While
make

man produces an

artifact

an end peculiar

to

itself, he
ends

can

it

serve

variety

of ends.

includes
Man

that are higher than the end peculiar

And that variety of ends to the artifact. The shoe's


end peculiar

end as an article of exchange

is in fact higher than the

to the shoe.

exchanges shoes

for

other

items,

and

that exchange

frees him from


associations,
come to

having
which pur

to provide those items

by his

own

take place naturally rather than


poses

Similarly, the first by choice (1252326-27),


in their
origins.

labor.

have

higher than those

contained

The
and

association of man and

woman

is for the

sake of generation

(1252326-27),

the

household

satisfies

man's

"merely daily
says

needs"

(1252^4-17).

By

the end of Book


a

I, however,
educa

Aristotle
tion of

that the highest concern of the head of

household is the

its

members

in

virtue

(i259bi8-22). So too do the


"security"

master and slave

come together cussion of and

for the

sake of

(1252331), but Aristotle

ends

his dis

slavery by observing that slavery allows the master to turn to politics philosophy (1255D3). Ends other than those implied in the origins can

control

development,
not

since

development
to

can

be

modified

by

human

choice.

The

end of

the city also can be modified in the course of its development.

Nature may
sake of
2.

be

so

benevolent
nature

as

incline

men to come

together for the

living

well, but

is flexible

enough to allow men to

do

so.5

All

references

in parentheses,

unless otherwise

noted, are to Aristotle's Politics. The trans

lations
3.

are mine.

Barker, p. 268; Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Politics, trans. Ernest O'Neill, in Medieval Political Philosophy, ed. Ralph Lerner and Muhsin Mahdi (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1972), p. 308. 4. But see Aristotle's account of two in De Anima, 4i2a-b.
p.

Ross,

328;

L. Fortin

and

Peter D.

"actualities"

5.
come

Aristotle into

accounts
neither

for

moral virtue nature nor

in

a similar

way in the Nicomachean Ethics: "the


1103824-25.

virtues

being

by

nature"

contrary to
we

The

virtues are not the

actualization of a whereas

potential,

as

seeing is the
virtues,

actualization of sight;

because

we practice

the moral virtues,

since we can acquire the moral

they

are

because we have sight, we see. become morally virtuous. On the other hand, not contrary to nature. We can train ourselves to

The Good Life, Slavery,


This

and

Acquisition

173

conclusion might seem

to run counter to Aristotle's argument that man

is

a political animal.

Aristotle
pain.

argues.

Nature does nothing in vain, and man possesses speech, Speech is unlike mere voice, which indicates pleasure and

Other

animals make one another aware of these sensations through voice.

Only

speech,

however,

can

indicate the
to

advantageous

and the

harmful,

and

therefore the just and the


their unique
18).

unjust.6

The city is the

association

in

which men use

faculty

of speech

indicate

these things to one another (1253310-

Later in Book I, Aristotle

maint3ins that what attracts animals as pleasant not need speech

benefits them (1256326-27). Animals do

because their

pleasure

is their

good.

For msn, in contrast,

speech about

the advsntsgeous is necessary

because the

be guided simply by the but needs instead speech for perfection. The teaching his naturally pleasant, that man is a rational (and hence political) animal implies that nature has failed
pleasant can cannot

be harmful. Man thus

to provide man

with

his good,

although

it has

allowed

him

reason

in

order

to

discover it. Nature's limited The


question of

providence

becomes

man's opportunity.

the providence of nature underlies Aristotle's discussion of


natural slaves man.

slavery.

Before arguing that been


provident.

exist, Aristotle

reveals

that

slaves nature

are advantageous, even

necessary, to

If there

are no natural

slaves,

has

not

The beneficence

of nature

therefore turns on the exist

ence of natural slaves.

Early
his

"can foresee
body"

in the Politics, Aristotle describes the natural with his and the natural slave as the
mind"

ruler as one who

the

one

who with

"can do

what

the ruler foresees with his mind (1252332-33). It

is

mistake,

Aristotle argues, to Nature does


not act
pose]."

identify
"in
a

the slave

with

the

female,

ss

the barbarians do.


one

niggardly way"; it
work

makes

"one thing for

[pur

Each

being

has

one

rather

than many,

so that each may

be

perfected

(125232-4). The barbarians

are not

fully

aware of nature's abundance. ob

However, in the beginning of his discussion of nstursl slavery, Aristotle served that the head of a family needs tools to accomplish his work: Every
say
assistant

is

as

it

were a

tool that serves

for

several what

perform

its

own work when

ordered, or
and

by

seeing

tools; for if every tool could to do in advance, like they


shuttles wove and

of the statues of

Daedalus

the tripods of

Hephaestus, if

become courageous, but


Aquinas
cities also notes the

we cannot

train a stone to

move upwards

NE,

I I03ai4-H03b7.

Thomas
and

exercis

"founded

by

similarity between the p. 311. human


industry,"

moral virtues

"acquired through human

6. Aristotle's distinction between


between the
obtained pleasant

speech and voice

does

not

depend

on a complete

disjunction

and the advantageous.

By

the advantageous Aristotle might mean pleasure

through restraint and reflection rather than


and the unjust

in

an

immediate is

sense.

Moreover, how does the just


Thomas
comments:

follow from the

advantageous and

the harmful?

"Human
the

speech

signifies what

useful and what


and

is harmful. It follows
in this, that
some

from this that it


people

signifies

just

and

the

unjust.

For justice

injustice

consist

harmful p. 310. See also unequally as regards useful and equally Political Animal: Nature and Convention in Human Speech Laurence Berns, "Rational Animal The Review of Politics 38 (April 1976), pp. 177-78. and
are treated
or
Politics,"

things,"

174

Interpretation
harps
of

quills played

themselves,

master craftsmen would

have

no need of

assistants,

and masters no need of slaves

[I253b33-i254ai].

Aristotle

states

here that for

slave

must perform a certain

variety

of

functions. The if he has been

slave, if he is to be
made

a good one

one, has

complexity;
restricted
would

even

by

nature

job alone, he is
way,"

not

to one job.

Nature
more

is acting "in a niggardly perfectly if they were man's

and

certain

tasks

be

peformed

sole occupation.

Nevertheless

man

has become
a

flexible; he is
condition of

able to accomplish more than one task. cannot

Moverover, foresight is
what

flexibility. Because tools

foresee

to do in advance,

masters need slaves.

By implication,
acts

a good slave

foresees

what should

be done he

exercises

in the situation, and foresight.


Aristotle lets
us see

accordingly.

He

performs

different tasks

when

that a

useful slave

foresees

what should

be done

without

depending
defines the

on

his master,

or

that he possesses some of the competence that


that a slave

master.

To the

extent

natural slave.

Although Aristotle implies that

slaves are useful

is truly useful, he is less a in production,

rather

for example, weaving, he proceeds to assert that a slave is a tool for action than for production (125438). Tools for action are articles of property,
and articles of

property

belong

to

another

(125439-11). In

spite of

Aristotle's

suggestions

his

productive

concerning the independence of the slave his foresight as well as capacity Aristotle refers us to his complete dependence on his
next says that although the master

master.

Aristotle does
not

is the

master of the

slave, he

belong

to the slave in the way that the slave belongs to the master
would anyone suppose

(125439-13). But

thst the msster

belongs to the

slsve?

In ssserting the contrary, Aristotle brings up the issue of the msster's depen dence. From time to time in Book I, Aristotle identifies the n3tursl msster with
the

free

msn

(for ex3mple, i254b28-29). Slsve is the

opposite of

both. But

since

the msster needs the slsve, 3S

Aristotle indicstes in the


slsve,"

course of

defining

the nsture of the slsve, could the msster

Hsving
snyone to
seem

defined "the is
s

nsture of the

be simply independent or free? Aristotle ssks "whether there is it is


advsntsgeous 3nd

snyone who

by

nsture 3 slave and whether

just for

be

slave"

(1254318-19). The just for him to be his


question

3nswer to the

former

question would

to

imply

the snswer to the htter: if there is


a

s nstursl

slsve,

by

definition

it is

sdvsntageous and

slave, since he nsturslly belongs


to
snd

to snother.

Aristotle
whst

pursues

"by looking

srgume

lesrning

from

hsppens"

"by

(1254321-22).
is ruling
snd

Aristotle
"In every
one,"

observes that there

snd

being

ruled

throughout "sll

nsture

composite

thing,

where

msny things

combine to mske 3 common

there is

something ruling

something

ruled.

Aristotle

gives exsmples:
snd msn

the soul rules the

body,

the mind the psssions, the msle the

femsle,

The Good Life, Slavery,


the lower animsls. the

and

Acquisition

175

The

observstion about

issue,

which

is

whether who
.

ststes thst

"sll men,
.

composites, however, cannot decide any two men form such a composite. Aristotle differ ss grestly as the body from the soul, snd the

bessts from msn, are by nsture slsves, for whom it is best to be (i 254b 1 6-20). Aristotle still does not demonstrate the existence of nstursl
slsves, but he is further

ruled"

elsborating the definition. But


has

the

the concept of a natural slave all the more problematic. If the

definition is making master has a

body

as well as a soul and the slave

a soul as well as a

body, how

could

the master differ from the slave as much as the soul

from the body?

Strictly
the

speaking, for the


soul and

master and

the slave to reproduce the

difference between
soul and

the

body,

the master would have to be

completely

the slsve

completely body. If we hsd be useful to his msster, our


useless thsn s

resson to suspect that the natural slave would not suspicion


s msster

is

now confirmed: whst could

be

more

desd

slsve

for

who,

hsving

no

body, hss
it

no needs a us

slave could satisfy?

Aristotle

immediately

underlines the

difficulty by telling
rather

that the slave does "share in


possess

resson,"

but only

so ss to perceive

thsn

it

(i254b23-25).7
hsppens,"

At lsst turning to "whst Aristotle ssserts thst nature intends to make the bodies of free men different from those of slaves, the latter "strong for necessary the former "erect and unserviceable for such things, but
service,"

useful

for

life."

political

Unfortunately,
but
not

nature

does free

"often"

not
of

(literally, "msny
free men, (i254b33~34). In
natural slaves
while

times") fulfill its intention. Slsves


free
men often

often

hsve the bodies


of men

have

souls

bodies

other not

words, if we consider only the type of


often make good

body

required,
do.8

do is

slaves,

while

free

men often

In light
stated: nature

of

the

development

of the

argument, Aristotle's
are

conclusion

over

"It is

clear

therefore that some

by

nature
not

free men,

and others

by

slave"

(125531-2;

emphasis mine).

It is

surprising thst Aristotle

now
body"

7.
and

Barker finds that Aristotle Barker

cannot maintain

that he possesses "the semi-rational part of the


365.
argues

consistently both that "the slave is a mere and is able to listen to the voice
soul"

of

reason, p.

that many of Aristotle's statements about natural

slavery

vitiate

his theory

of natural slavery.

theory

must always

His theory, according to Barker, is like all false theories: "a false fall into inconsistency, if it deals with all the facts and data of its subject; and
must contradict

some of these

facts

the assumptions on which it

goes,"

p.

368.

Ross

comes to a

similar conclusion:
theory,"

"Aristotle's treatment
also notes and
soul,"

of the question contains

implicitly

the refutation of his


slave as

p.

242.

Mulgan

the

inconsistency

between Aristotle's "seeing the

animal-like"

wholly
of the

physical and

part of the

human

p.

43.

his granting that "the slave has even the emotional and desiring See also p. 41. Mulgan observes "If [Aristotle] has given one
or racial

classic

defences

of genetic

supremacy,

he has done it in

way that

makes

refuted,"

p. 43. readily 8. What exactly is the difference between the bodies of free men Aristotle says that the bodies of free men are "useful for political refutation easy; not all such are so

doctrines

and those of slaves?

When

life,"

he divides the

occupations

of political useful

life into

service

in

war

and

in

peace,

I254b29~34.
subdues

Is the

body

of

the warrior not


must

for ploughing the fields? If the


enough

master

(free man)

the slave

in war,

he

not

be

strong

to perform the tasks of a slave ?

176
concedes

Interpretation
to the conventionslists thst some slsves 3re so
(I25533ff.).9

by

convention

only

3nd

not

by

nsture

We hsve
C3p3city
excellent
of

resched

the S3me result


needed

when

3nd

the

body

by

the slsve. The most

considering both the intellectual useful sl3ve is the msn

in

mind snd which

body,

who slso

Dsedslus,
Nature

Aristotle
makes

mentioned men with

hsppens to be perfectly loysl. The ststues earlier, are useless because they run
the souls of slaves, but
ssid.
with

"often"

away.

bodies
might

unservicesble

for necesssry work, Aristotle


ruled,
s master would not

While

such

msn

benefit from level


of

being
spesks

benefit from ruling him. On the

the master-slave relationship, there is no common good.


of

Aristotle
slave when
force,"

the

friendship

thst csn exist between s msster snd a

the slavery is natural. When slsvery is only

there can

be

no

friendship
war csn

(I255bi5-i6). When

Aristotle
nsture

maintains

that

be

justly
not

employed

"by convention snd by discussing acquisition, "sgsinst men who sre by

fit to be

ruled

but

willing"

who

sre

(i256b25). The

friendship
be
pro

between
moted

msster snd slsve

therefore seems tenuous. It might sppesr to the slsve in useful skills snd

by

the

s educstion of

in virtue,

ss

Aristotle Aristotle

recommends

(i255b25ff.;

i26ob2-3),

except

thst ss the slsve

be

comes more competent snd virtuous


not

he is

more

only fails to

give a conclusive argument

obviously not s nstursl slsve. for the existence of natural

slavery, he

also advises masters to

treat their slaves in a wsy thst prepsres them

for freedom.
If indeed there
sre no nstural

slaves,

who

both benefit their


msn.

masters a

and

benefit from
master: man and

being

ruled, nature has failed to provide for

Nature is

harsh

is needy

by

nature,

and

he

cannot

satisfy his

needs without violence

injustice to

others.

The

advantsgeous

is

not

simply free to pursue the good life: not only that nature does not provide for him, but he
who

necesssrily the just. Man is not must he provide the necessities do


so

must

by enslaving
His

others

do

not

deserve to be
good

enslaved. without

He

cannot pursue

the advantageous and


nature

the

just, naturally

ends,

violating the

one or the other.

therefore cannot lead him simply toward his good. His


recalls

dependence
natural

on nature

Aristotle's description

of unnatural slavery. goes some

The

is

not

the good.

Slavery, however,

distance toward

freeing

man

simply from

merely necessary existence. At the end of his discussion of slavery, Aristotle mentions how greatly advantageous slavery is: the possession of slaves frees a man so that he can engage in politics and philosophy (i255b37). Since slavery
makes politics and

politics and

philosophy

philosophy possible, the question implicitly can relieve msn of his unnatural slsvery

arises whether

to nature.

9.

Barker it is

notes

diminish the
slavery:

number of slaves. quite

Aristotle's distinction between natural and conventional slaves would "Aristotle's Barker writes, "may seem to us to defend possible that it struck his contemporaries as also an p. 369.
that
doctrine,"
attack,"

The Good Life, Slavery,

and

Acquisition

111

II
The lsrgest
part of

Book I is

on scquisition.

Aristotle discusses the house


within

holds,

the smallest associations in the city, and the relationships


master's

the

households. He discusses the


article of

property, is
of

msn's mesns

for
use

relationship sction or life (125432-8). While the


property, is it
slso

to his slsve, who, as an

job

of

the hesd

the

family

is to

his job to

scquire

property? or

Aristotle thus Does


s

raises the question of the source or origin of msn's provide

life

sctivity.

msn

for himself his Aristotle


now

mesns

of

living,

or

is he

dependent

brings up the possibility that a beneficent natures provides man with what he needs. The issue underlying the discussion of slavery, the beneficence of nature, now becomes explicit.
on

something

external?

Book I Aristotle

raises

the question of nature, and


of what

of man's

speaks

pertains

"throughout

nsture"

sll

relationship to nature. (1254333). In this

Aristotle imitstes Hippodamus,


text of "the whole
of mathematics

who also

tried to place politics within the con


applied principles
nature.10

nature"

(i267b69). Hippodamus apparently


neglected

to politics, and

the

heterogeneity
ruling
and

of

Aristotle,

in contrast,
also

sees not

only that there are rulers and ruled throughout nature but

that there are

"many

different kinds

of

being

ruled"

(1254325).

But is there

some order or

discussion

of

unity slsvery there hsve appeared


no

that pervsdes the

diversity? Thus far in the

men who enslave and others who are

enslaved, but

sssursnce, or even

likelihood,

thst those who

sre enslsved sre

nsturslly inferior to their enslsvers. Hsving suggested that there is no common good between master and slsve, Aristotle turns directly to the question raised

by

thst suggestion, the

question of

the goodness of nsture.

In

discussing
of

the scquisition of
provides

food,

Aristotle

gives sn srgument

for

nature's

providence.

Nature

the wsys

life

of

many different kinds of food, and has differentisted the animals by giving them different faculties for obtaining
eat

different foods. Some

grass, others meat;

some are

nomadic, others
obtain

solitary.

So too
ways.

with

men, their lives differ greatly, because


are
nomadic

they

food in different
and

There

herdsmen, hunters

of various

kinds,

farmers.

This

argument

for

nature's providence

indicates

man's neediness:

man's man

from the way in which he acquires the necessities. Aristotle includes injustice: And need leads to among the natural modes (1256336)." sometimes "live He tells us that men of acquisition by
ner of

life itself

results

"piracy"

pleass

combining the
10.

vsrious

pursuits,

"supplementing

the more

deficient life

when

it

11.

Leo Strauss, The City and Man (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1964), p. 19. It is difficult to see how piracy could be a just mode of acquisition. Is piracy the
others what

violent

taking from
own efforts?

they have

acquired, whether through nature's providence, or through their


men.

Or perhaps piracy refers to the enslaving of I have argued, then piracy in this sense also is unjust.

But if there

are no natural

slaves,

as

178

Interpretation
short

hsppens to fall
how to
as
provide

in

being

self-sufficing"

(I265b3~5). Man

must

choose

for himself,
Aristotle

and

both his independence

and pleasure

increase
through

he takes less
own
efforts.

of what nature provides and more of whst observes

he

scquires on

his

thst nsture

bestows food

all, just as

animals

bring

forth for

with their

young

enough sustenance

themselves"

able to provide

(I256bn-I2;
for the
of sake

emphasis mine).

for them "until they are But he never


well; moreover,
sppesrs

theless concludes that nature provides


nature mesn

mature animal as
man"

provides

"all things for the

(I256b22). He
whst

to

that there

is

no

natural

barrier to

man's

scquiring

he is

sble to

subdue, for he

immedistely

indicates that

man's natural provision might resist

being

acquired.12

wsr, in

esses where
it"

Not only is "those of

hunting
msnkind

s nstursl mode of acquisition,

but

also

designed

by

nature

for

subjection refuse

to submit to

(T256b25-27).
nstursl modes of scquisition other snd

Aristotle hss discussed the

thsn trade
not nec

herding, fsrming,
men

piracy,

fishing,

hunting

(i256bi-2). These do

essarily bring alone. He concluded his discussion

into

association with one another. of

They

may be

undertaken

these natural modes

of acquisition

by

in

cluding war among them (i256b25-27). Exchange, however, obviously brings men into contact with one another. Exchange is natural, Aristotle says, for men
must obtain

from

others what

they happen

to

lack,

while

they

exchange what
ex-

they have in
use of

surplus

(1257328). But the invention in

of

money

grows out of

chsnge, for it is

s more convenient means of

exchanging

goods.

Along

with

the
sn

money
word

came associstions of men

which men sgreed to 3bide value word

by

suthoritstive

Greek

for convention, or kw, nomos (i257bio; see Nicomachean Ethics, 1133329-32). The invention of money therefore strengthens the bond between trsders. They now hsve
sgreements or conventions thst regulste
with

stamping of coins which determine their for money, nomisma, is derived from the

(1 2573358".). The

their common sctivity.

the

invention

of

money, sppesrs instruments! in

forming

Trade, slong bonds smong

12.
and

Barker takes Aristotle's


p.

statement that nature provides all things

for

man out of

context,
such and not

then tries to excuse it: "it was only natural that


376.

naivete,"

Barker

nevertheless notes
conception of

early thought should indulge itself in the distinction between this "external

teleology"

Aristotle's "fine
as their
p. 376.

and

internal

'destined

eater'

but

as

teleology, in which man is the end of other things, the final aim towards the production of which nature

moves

See

also

Ross,

p.

126.

13.
and at

Harry

Jaffa

observes that at the center of natural acquisition is

hunting,

a species of war,

the

center of unnatural acquisition


"Aristotle,"

modes of acquisition.

Cropsey
and the

(Chicago: Rand

McNally,

is trade, culminating in usury. War and trade are alternative History of Political Philosophy, ed. Leo Strauss and Joseph 1963), p. 80. See also Joseph Cropsey, Political Philosophy
on

mation and

Issues of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), p. 39, of the predation of war into the salutary predation of peace, the mercenary

"the transfor

quest

for

increase

gain."

The Good Life, Slavery,

and

Acquisition

179
as sn unnstursl mode

Why

does Aristotle

nevertheless

describe moneymsking

of scquisition?

In concluding his discussion of nstural acquisition, Aristotle explained that natural acquisition is limited by its end, living and eventuslly living well, just as any tool is limited by its end or function (i256b28-39). But
now

Aristotle
seek

argues

thst men seek to scquire unlimited smounts of money

becsuse they

life

rather than the good without

life. And
to
as

since the

desire for life

is

unlimited, men

desire

limit the life

means

life (i257b24-30). But is


Aristotle first indicated?
unlimited moneymaking.

the desire for life not limited

by

its end, life,


accounts

Appsrently,

desire for

unlimited

for

Unlimited moneymaking is premised on the denial of mortality. And to deny one's mortality is to deny one's corporeality. Aristotle refers to those who think
that money
useless of close

is

"entirely

convention, and in no way

by

nature, because it

is

for the necessities,

subsistence"

dying Moneymaking is
to
man with

snd a man rich in money may lack the necessities (1257b 10-14). And there is the story of Midas, who came of hunger due to his insatiable desire for money (1257^5-17). an unnatural mode of
world of

acquisition, then, because it removes

from the

natural

necessity, corporeality, and death.

Moreover,

the advent of money, particular items such as shoes are no longer needed

as articles of exchange. sought through

Money

can take the place of all the particular goods


single measure.

exchange; it reduces a variety of goods to a


a universal

Men have invented


much ss nsture

thst

sppesrs of

to remove them from nsture, inss-

is

composed of s

vsriety why

entities, irreducible to one

snother.

Aristotle Men

gives s second resson

men

desire

unlimited smounts of money. with

identify
of

the enjoyment of

bodily

plessures

living

well, snd conse

quently The life

seek sn unlimited smount of

the mesns to these plessures (125832-8).


msn

moneymaking thus blinds


sll sense ss well: 3 skve

to

his

nstural neediness st

the ssme

time thst it binds him


this further

the more to his body. It is therefore

unnstursl

in

to

bodily

plessures,

msn

does

not rise

to the

politics st its best. msnly independence of politicsl rule th3t chsrscterizes Of the forms of moneymsking, usury is "the most contrary to but interest increases the "came into being for the sake of

nature

Money

thst money itself (125805-6). We should not suppose, however, for an end other than the end for the usury is unnstural because it uses money being. The into came shoe, we remember, came into sake of which money
amount

of

being

for

an end peculisr to
of exchange

itself, but before


well

the advent of money


original

it

was used

for the

sake

as

as

for its but

end

(1257313). And the

being city too comes does not take his bearings entirely from
one end,

into

for

exists

for

higher is

one.

Aristotle

the origins.

Usury
srtificisl

s psrsdigm

for

the

unnstural

evidently becsuse through usury the


therefore

comes

from the

artificisl,

snd

hss

no

origin

in

nature.

than money
since

removes

man

from the limits imposed

radically Usury nature's heterogeneity, by


even

more

everything that naturally comes into

being does

so

from

some particular

180

Interpretation
something
come

thing. But usury makes


origins

from

nothing.14

While for Aristotle the


the

do

not

necessarily completely

control

development, usury denies


of

origins

sltogether.15

Hsving "sufficiently distinguished


them,"

[the forms

scquisition]
to their

in

order

to

understsnd

Aristotle

will

discuss them "in

use"

regsrd

(i258b9-

into its branches. Then, of the mode involving commerce, there is exchsnge, usury, snd lsbor for hire. The lstter includes the workers without srts, "who sre useful by mesns of their bodies
n).

He divides the

nstursl mode

slone"

(i258b28). The

nstural

slaves

by

definition

(1252334)
for

are
men

now

working for

hire. The

convention of
services.

for necessary
goods.
and

course must possess

money has made it possible In order to pay other men, the head of the more money than is necessary for the purchase

to pay other men

family

of

of needed

money permits him to employ others to do necessary tasks therewith to free himself for other occupations. Aristotle now tells us there His
extra

is

a third mode of

acquisition,

with elements of

both the

natural and an

the com

mercial violence

kind. He
to

gives the examples of

nature

in

order

to use

timber, it for human purposes,


not

felling

activity that
and

does
an

mining,

activity

that takes from nature what

it does

readily

provide.

I believe that do
the
violence
peak of

we should

be

reminded of

Aristotle's

political

science,

which must

to man's
nature.

natural

inclinations in
thst he

order to raise

him to his

place at

Aristotle

says

will

lesve

detsiled

account of these modes of acquisi collect

tion to others.
of

He

recommends that

"someone

the scattered accounts

moneym

the successful methods used

by

which

"will benefit those

moneymaking"

honoring

(125933-6). One

such method

is

monopoly. out of

Aristotle his fifty.

gives the example of a man who made one

hundred talents

Far from condemning this making of money out of money, Aristotle emphasizes that the method can be used politically. While he shows that a private use of monopoly is harmful to a tyrant's affairs (1259330-32), he concludes that "to know [how to secure a monopoly] is useful for statesmen slso, for msny cities
money"

(1259335-37). Whst divorces msn from scquiring nsture 's heterogeneity is now recommended if it csn be subordinsted to politicsl
need such mesns of

ends.

The first
the

psrt of

Book I is

sbout msn's natural

neediness, as it is

revealed

in

sep arating himself from nature through unnatural modes of acquisition. Aristotle's suggestion for the politicsl use of commerce, which concludes his discussion of
scquisition,
14.

human institution

of slavery.

The

second part of

Book I is

about man's

provides a
admits that

transition to the last part


objects

of

Book I, in

which

Aristotle

Barker

from
word

nothing.

to usury on the ground that it makes something come But Barker believes that this is a false inference from the peculiarity of the Greek
385-387.
of

Aristotle

15.

for interest. For his discussion, see pp. Jaffa suggests that Aristotle's praise
root of

just

war and

his

censure of trade are

due to the
extreme

fact that the


of

injustice is

the abolition of the limits upon


more akin

bodily

desires. "Perhaps the limits than is

trade, culminating in usury, is

to the abolition of those

p.

80.

The Good Life, Slavery,


returns

and

Acquisition

181

to the

family,
be

s reminder of one's natural origins.

He

now claims

that

family The family


the
of

can

understood

remains an

properly only in the context of political life. integral part of the city, but the city exists for the sake
man

the good life. Politicsl life therefore frees

from his dependence

on

brute

nature without

uprooting him from the

natural world.
within

Before

discussing
about

the other relations

the

family, Aristotle
of the

returns

to

the relation between the


concerned

master and slave.

Since the head

family

is

more

the virtue or excellence of its humsn members thsn of

its

insnimste property, the question of the virtue of the slsve arises. Does the slsve hsve only the virtue of s tool or a servant, or also such virtues as courage,

justice,
can

and moderation virtuous

(i259b2i-26)? Aristotle has this dilemma: if the

slave

in the latter sense, he would be a human being, but Aristotle has had to describe him as less than human in order to justify slavery. After calling
of our attention

be

to the advantages of commerce

and of

the statesman's use

commerce, Aristotle thus


now appears

returns to the question of

the slave's humanity.

It

that the slave

is

capable

of moral

virtue, although Aristotle

from undermining his earlier argument altogether by maintaining that the slave is capable of moral virtue only in a sense. There are different kinds
refrains
of courage and moderation.

There is the

virtue of a

slave, and that of a free


woman

man, just

as there not

is the

virtue of a
within

msn, snd that of a

(i26oa2-28). 16
the concept
ends

But does
of

the

diversity
call

humanity,

and therewith within of the good

human excellence, Aristotle's

into

question the

unity

life? Book I

with

inability

to

speak of

the virtue of women and children without

considering the particular regime


political

in

which

they live ( 1 260b 1 0-18). Presumably,


from
multiplicity
of

the same applies to the virtue of a man. While virtue appears inseparable

life,

political

life itself
A

assumes a

forms. Virtue

varies

from

regime

to

regime.

consideration of politics

irreducible
which

nstursl

diversity
Aristotle's

thst commerce

evidently recslls to msn the tended to deny. The good life st

Aristotle

ssid cities simed must slwsys

be lived

within

the context of s

particular regime.

argument suggests

by

the end of Book I that there

is

variety
As
we

of good

lives.

16.

master over slave. of

have seen, Aristotle distinguishes the rule of male over female from the rule of CSee p. 173 of this paper.) Nevertheless both kinds of rule are defined as the rule
superior over

the naturally

the naturally inferior. Aristotle says, "The male is naturally fitter to

command mine).

than the

female,
political

except where there

is

some

departure from

nature"

(I259b2,

emphasis

Aristotle

classifies

the

rule of male over

female

as political rule, although the male's rule

is

permanent

and

rule

is the
rulers

rule

of equals

who

take turns ruling. Where equals take

turns ruling, Aristotle observes,


of address or titles of respect,

try

to indicate some sign of their superiority, such as modes


Amasis'

in his

way

reminiscent of

footpan (I258b-I259a).
of

According
situation:
a

to

Herodotus, Amasis
utensil

made

golden

footpan into just

god

in imitation

his

own

former

had become

an object of reverence,

as

Amasis,

formerly

subject, had become

king

eminence of

(Herodotus, ii.172). The male's preeminence over the female, it appears, resembles the pre footpan. Again nature is improvident, since it fails to provide men with inferior
Amasis'

and obedient

wives, just as it

fails to

provide slaves.

If

nature's
practical

improvidence demands
of

again could

be

seen

as man's opportunity,

it is only

by looking

beyond the

life.

182

Interpretation
Sophocles'

Aristotle finds
poet

support

for the

diversity
to

of virtues

from
observes.17

Ajax. The

said, "Silence

woman,"

gives grace said

Aristotle

Yet it is the

maddened

Ajax
a

tivities.

It is

this, when his wife Tecmessa questioned his ac madman, Aristotle might be saying, who does not listen to
who

the good

advice of a womsn. sppesrs

Yet Aristotle
sppropriste? sppropriste: veals

to endorse Ajsx's ststement. When would silence


of

be

At the

beginning

Book I, Aristotle tells


s snd therefore

when speech

becomes

the political

community is
the

the

advantageous and

hsrmful,

shsring in speech, for speech re the just and the unjust

(1253314-16). The

conjunction of of

the advsntsgeous and the

just,
snd

ss revesled of

by

speech, is the bssis


revesled

the

politicsl community.

But Aristotle's discussion


the just.

slsvery justices may be


simply
at the relief ssme

the

disjunction between the for

sdvsntsgeous

In

unavoidable

advantageous

man

in establishing civil societies. And commerce, not because it distsnces him from his nstursl world

time

it further binds him to his injustice


of

body

snd

its plessures,
existence of

makes

from the

gross

slavery

possible.

Until the

cities,

the advantageous and the just for

man appear

to conflict. And past cities have

probably existed for the sake of survival, or wealth. They are not ciites that deserve the name of cities (see i28ob7-8). Could Aristotle have thought that
cities

truly deserving
such cities

the name had

not yet existed?

And

was

it his

chosen

task

to

bring

into

existence through

his

political science?

The

grestest

scquisition st
politicsl

issue in the Politics, then, is science. For it is in Aristotle's


ss opposed

msnkind's scquisition of speech

Aristotle's
the city's

thst the end

of

existence,

its genesis, mskes its first sppesrsnce A silence smong womsnly msy be sppropriate, especially if un like Tecmessa's, attacks a man's pride as he goes about the womanly speech, business of defending his honor. Aristotle's politics, after all, centers on political
to the end of
msnkind.18

17. 18.

Sophocles, Ajax,
It
might

293.

be

objected that the end of the city's existence, the good

life, first
on

appeared

in

ancient cities that made

piety the bond

of their union.

Such

an objection

depends

the ends served

by

religion.
men

Aristotle
were

associates veneration of the gods with the village stage of

human development.

When

themselves ruled
of

by

king they

worshipped gods also ruled


of

likened the lives


rather

by

king; they

the gods to their own (1252b). The stories

the gods thus support


rather

kingly
must

than political rule:


and

they indicate
good

man's

dependence

and

bondage

than his self-suf


at

ficiency
go

freedom. The
be

life

at which

the

Aristotelian city aims, in

this sense

least,

beyond
It

piety. objected also that

might

the end of the city's existence, the good

life, first

appeared not

in Aristotle's

speech

but in Plato's. Although

philosophizing about politics is beyond the a passage in Book I, is in order. Aristotle begins the politics with a criticism believe that "political rule, kingly rule, household management, and despotic rule
These
men

distinguishing Aristotle's political science from Plato's scope of this paper, the following suggestion, based on
of are

those the

who

same."

also

believe that there is


rule,
as opposed

(125238-14). It is commonly

understood that

Aristotle,

political

life. From Aristotle's


might exist.

difference between a small city and a large household Aristotle is referring to Socrates and Plato. But for to despotic rule, is essential to the city's aiming at the good
no

point of

view, then,

Plato did

not understand the good

life for

which cities

The Good Life, Slavery,


rule and

and

Acquisition
is that
of

183
men over

freedom, for
of the

political rule

free

free

men

(I277bi6).

Awareness

degree

of mankind's

dependence

on

Aristotle for these things


nondespotic political

may life.

not promote the

manly independence necessary for


Tecmessa tries to
rashness and prevent

Ajax
life.20

commits suicide.

his

death.19

When

she

is

unsuccessful,

she

laments his

thereby

affirms

the goodness of

Suicide

presupposes a

distsnce from life,

or sufficient

detschment from

life to discern that it is


thst allows men to

not worth

living
were

at all costs.

Perhaps it is this detachment

try

to overcome nstursl necessity, to enslsve others, snd to

found

cities.

Yet if

politicsl

life

no sccess

bsck to

s nstursl world,

suicide might

simply unsstisfying, if it provided msn be s proper response to the into


existence

humsn

condition.

Aristotle intends to

bring

cities, or

communities

that provide some


although with

degree

of good more

considerably

living. He is sgsin playing the woman's part, insight than Tecmessa, and with a large degree

of

manly

assertion.

19.

When Tecmessa discovers the danger to his life,


we wish

she asks the chorus


who

to

help

her find him:


1-12.

"Come, let's hurry. No time to sit, if


20.

to save a man

is

die,"

eager

to

Ajax, 81

Ajax, 891-903.

Aristotle

on

the Limits and Satisfactions

of

Political Life

Catherine H. Zuckert
Carleton College

In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt


notion

attempts

to revive the ancient

that the

distinctively

human lies in

political

action.

She thus

reminds

her

readers of

Aristotle's famous dictum (Politics 125333-5)

that man

is

and its essentially controversial character at the same time she dissociates herself from the ancient philosophic understanding. Unlike explicitly the Latin commentators who reveal their misunderstanding by reducing political

politicsl animal

to social, she recognizes, Plato and Aristotle


public

retain a sense of

the

distinctively
the

life

of

the

polis.

Nevertheless,

these

ancient philosophers establish

tradition which subordinates practice to contemplation or philosophy; and this

it is

hierarchy
way
of

that she wishes to


establish

challenge.1

As Leo Strauss has

brilliantly

shown, Plato does


as a

life

by

both the viability showing the limits of


not so clear

and the

politics.2

superiority of philosophy But the subordination of


Aristotle. In the
Nicho-

politics

to philosophy is

in the

works of

machean

Ethics, he suggests three different peaks of human excellence mag nanimity, justice, and contemplation. And in the Politics, he presents the life of
the statesman or jzofarixog more or less

in its

own

terms,

as

life

worth

choosing for its

own sake or

essentially

The

picture

Aristotle
action

gives of political

self-satisfying one. life differs, moreover, in important Although it is true that the Politics
or unless the neces

respects

from the life is

Arendt
polis

praises.

begins

by

showing that the


are
provided

does

not emerge until

sities of

the polis

characterized

by by

the oikos, it
a

is

not

true,

as

Arendt claims, that


public

sharp distinction between


the

and private.
and

On the contrary, Aristotle shows that the regime

(jioXixeia)
not

shapes

so

infuses

all aspects of private

life, especially

family
as

through totalitarian

controls,

of

course, but
opinion.

rather

by

praise and

blame

expressed either

in legisla
not

tion or mere
animated

Second,

political

life

depicted
or

by

Aristotle is
as

"immortality"

"distinction"

clsims.

simply by the desire for fame, Becsuse humsn life is characterized


an

Arendt

by

several

incommensurable needs,
com-

there

is

enduring

problem

both

of

providing the

requirements and of

penssting those who do. Politics essentislly of recognition rule, which is a question not merely justice. Since this
question politics

concerns

the question, who should

or

honor but ultimately The


simple

of

can

be

answered

only through complex snd con


rationsl activity. not

tinuing deliberstion,

is

sn

inherently

dis

tinction between sction snd reason or


1.

theory does

fit: cpgovnoig includes


of

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago:


155-56.

University

Chicago Press, 1958),


pp. 50-138.

pp.

10, 17-18,
2.

Leo Strauss, The

City

and

Man (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1963),

186

Interpretation

both. Finslly, the fundsmentsl pluralism of humsn life thst Arendt herself stresses mskes it impossible for sll members of s community to psrticipste

fully
a

in

public or politicsl
yet

decisions. Man
explained

meaning

to

be

fully

with ss a species may be political but individual distinctions are products of

of chance

(birth)
of state

and plsce

(the division

lsbor).

Only by

means of a vast

abstraction and simplification can we equate

secretary better appreciation

as

political

participation.

voting with the negotiations of We do, as Arendt urges, need


politics

a a s

of

"the

political."

As Aristotle shows,

is both

more noble snd s more

limited humsn
"search"

endeavor

thsn we generally recognize.


nor

Politics is

not

it

chsrscterize

merely a sll humsn


sfter

relstions or sssocistions.
meet

for power, according to Aristotle, On the contrary,


their
more

does

politicsl

sctivity

srises

only

humsn beings

fundsmental

procreative

and economic needs.

Since the

members of a and

new generations as well as to

feed

polity defend themselves, the (the division


of

must continue

to produce

requirements of

both

family

snd economic organization action.

labor)

limit the

scope

of political

economic relations

Aristotle shows, however, why neither purely social nor satisfy human beings. And in showing why political activity
reveals

is both necessary and desirable, Aristotle ical association constitutes or involves a

the reasons why every polit

"regime"

(jzoXltelcx)

that

is,

an order

ing

of

disparate

groups and activities

in

which some rule others.

Through his

discussion

of regime

Aristotle thus

enables us

to understand why political con

flict endures, why

all political

activity

and association snd

is partisl, why there is


neces

never complete consensus or

sgreement,

thus why force is slwsys

sary to maintain order.


All human beings
act

from

an attachment

to their
way.

own

existence, but

they
to

do

not

all

define their
own
of

existence

in the

same

Msn's bssic
in

concern

preserve

his

life

mskes economic considerations powerful

determining
economic

the wsy of

life

individusls
never

or communities

(i 256329- I256b9), but

considerations

slone

suffice
of

to explsin sny psrticulsr regime,

thst

is,

humsn life
can

sbove the

level

subsistence, because the distribution of goods


as to who rules

be

altered

by

force. The decision


since

is his

decision

ss to whst
even

is

most

importsnt;

every human
own

being

values

own

existence,

tends to overestimate

his

importance,
Some

everyone
men seek

spt to sgree sbout who should rule.

in the community is not honor rather thsn weslth,

moreover;

their

desires

csn

others,

and these sre the men most apt


most of

be fulfilled only through being elevsted sbove to engage in politics. Since most humsn
their

beings hsve to devote tence, very few


regime thus
mske

will ever psrticipate much

lives to scquiring the necessities fully in politics. The nature of any

of exis

specific

very
out

depends

on the character and wisdom of the men who

snd enforce

the lsws. The fsct thst sll human


of self-love

beings
mean

and

so

rulers

in

particular act
ment

(1267330-35) does
or unjust.

not

that all govern

is necessarily difficult to construct

oppressive

It does

mean

that

and maintain

a regime

which recognizes

it is extremely and gives due

Aristotle
weight

on

the

Limits

and

Satisfactions of Political Life


or activities

187

to all the different kinds of contributions

tain a political 3ssociation. It requires


emerges

deliberation,

and such

necessary to main deliberative skill

only in the context and on the bssis of political experience. Aristotle's very first claim that the polis constitutes the highest and most comprehensive form of human association surely flies in the face of the modern
liberal tendency to view the stste ss Yet our own experience in
society.3

sepsrate and
one of the

in

some ways subordinate to


socialistic

least

liberal democ
of pri

racies ought
vate

to tesch us thst the lsw reaches into virtually all realms


even when example.

endesvor,

the object

of

the

lsw is to

protect
of

freedom,

the "right

privscy,"

to

for

Even before the

emergence

the welfsre state,

however, Alexis de Tocqueville


extend

showed thst the effects of of government

Americsn

democracy

far beyond the institutions forms


of

into

economic

enterprise, reli
and even the

gion,

all

intellectusl
it is

snd srtistic

endesvor, the

fsmily,
so

individual's
also

conception of

himself. If
not

political
or

influence is

pervasive, it is

fairly

clear that

primarily

directly

coercive.

And Aristotle's
man"

second

sweeping

claim

is that

politicsl rule

differs essentislly from both despo

tism and patriarchal authority; the rule of s politikos

(literally

"political

but usually translated statesman) is essentially different from that of a master and that of a father. Our tendency (stemming from Locke) to associate govern
ment political

primarily with legislstion lesds us not only to underestimate the extent of influence but also to conceive of political action primarily in terms
snd
enforcement.

of command

Since

command
on

and

force

are

universal,

we

conclude, so is
politics

politics.

Aristotle suggests,
"power"

the contrary, that understanding


a

primarily in terms

of

involves

fundamental

misconception of

the nature

of political order.

Politicsl

order represents s compound of several of association.

sary kinds
cal

If there

are no people, there will procrestive

different but equally neces be no polis. Politi


relation.

order

thus includes the

male-femsle

If there is

no

food,

there will

be

no

people,
of

so the existence of political order also requires

the intelligent

organization

labor to

describes the intelligent


tion, becsuse the
sistence

organizstion of

provide the necessary goods. Aristotle Isbor in terms of the msster-slave relaat

production

of goods

level

requires

division

of

anything more than individual sub lsbor. The fact that there are necessary
that politics

economic conditions

for the

emergence of political order also means

is

not universal; men are not able


needs are met.

to deliberate sbout the best way of circumstsnces, it msy

life

until

their vitsl

Under

unfavorable

require sll

their time and effort merely to

survive.

Unlike Marx, Aristotle insists that the first form of human sssociation, the family, consists in the merger of two different natural relations: the erotic,
male-female or procreative relation as well as

the master-slave, or economic


operates

in the
3.

narrower, V. Jaffa,

modern

sense,

division

of

lsbor. Self-preservstion
Joseph Cropsey, ed..

"Aristotle."

Harry

in Leo Strauss
1972),
PP-

and

History

of Political

Philosophy

(Chicago: Rand

McNally,

65-68.

188

Interpretation
individual level.
"Barbarians"

on a species as well as an

make

the mistake of
women

confusing the two distinct relations, Aristotle argues, when they trest ss slsves. Procrestion is not simply snother form of production; the does
not

fsmily

solely from the requirements of survivsl or need. On the con trary, Aristotle suggests, there is slwsys s positive sttrsction to life itself ss well as to other human beings st the root of every humsn society. Human

develop

merely from necessity but also from desire. Once formed, however, the association affects both the constituent needs and

beings form
desires. To
uality
while must

family

groups

not

maintain

the

family,

and so give

birth to future generations,

sex

be

restricted

both

with regsrd

to partner and the number of progeny,

the need to produce snd provide

two roots of the most the nsture of the


consist of

bssic form

of

grestly expsnds. The interplsy of the humsn sssocistion is thus instructive ss to


All humsn
associations

higher,

more complex politicsl order.

several,

to politics is thus both

irreducibly different parts or relations. Aristotle's approach fundamentally pluralistic and fundamentally hierarchical.
is
s central to compound of the

The

"regime"

concept of
politicsl psrts. order

his
or

political science, srticulstion sre of

because he

under-

stsnds

ss

several,
or

different

As

sll

parts

household

sffected

shaped

irreducibly by the

requirements of affected

raising future generations,


meet

so all parts of

the political order are

by

the particular way of life the members of the polis seek to preserve. their needs, Aristotle observes, their

Once humsn beings


psnd.

desires

ex-

not merely wsnt life, they wsnt s good life, the best life pos in sible; seeking the good life, they form politicsl sssocistions. In con trast to the formstion of the household order or fsmily, the oikos, which srises
snd

They do

out of the combinstion of

instinct

snd

need, politicsl order is

instituted inten

tionally,

as a matter of conscious choice.

Although

men sre

nsturslly inclined

to sssociste politically, political associations do not

way families do. The


the
man who

spontaneously emerge the benefactor to mankind, Aristotle observes, was first invented and instituted political order (1253331-34).
greatest

At
more csuse

a subsistence

level, human life is


they

ruled

by

necessity.

Once

men produce

than

they

need,

also choose a

instinct is

so much wesker order snd

way of life, slmost of necessity, be in humsn beings thsn it is in other 3nimsls.


own are

Humsn beings hsve to

direct their

lives becsuse
able

of

the indeter

minacy
virtue

or openness

of

human

nature.

They

to order their lives

by

of

their rational

argued, human beings


one another. choice or

faculty or logos. But as Jean-Jscques Rousseau develop their speech and resson only in sssocistion

later
with

There is, strictly speaking, no completely individual capacity for self-rule. Rather than emphasize the openness or of
stresses

human life, Aristotle thus


good

the

importance

and

indeterminacy difficulty of making

choice, that

is,

of

developing
can and

man's practical

reason, and its political

foundation.
Although human beings
cally,

Aristotle declares that the

polis

clearly do exist without associating politi is prior to the individual, because each

Aristotle
develops his
qualities
msn

on the

Limits

and

Satisfactions of Political Life

189

"individuality"

particularity as well as his distinctly human only in political association. The quslities which most distinguish one from snother develop only through specislizstion snd s division of lsbor.
or ss one man uses all

So

long

is

not apt

to

develop
live
at

his energy to provide for himself and a family, he talent for geometry, music or painting. Since human
sbove subsistence except

beings

csnnot

sny level

in

cooperation with

others, the choice of s wsy of life csn be msde only through sssocistion, snd
men sssociste with esch other sn sgreement sbout whst

only

on

the

bssis

of

the

friendship
do
not

thst arises from


other

is

right or

just. Men
should

who

trust esch

do

not

deliberate together from


possible

sbout whst

they

do; they
thus

seek to

defend them
their
nstursl
asso-

selves

incursions. Humsn beings

develop

potentisl

to order or direct their own

lives,

their

logos, only in

politicsl

cistions. and political associations are


right or

founded

on an sgreement about what

is

just. Human

speech and reason extend

beyond the
is

mere animal expres


or

sion of pleasure

and pain

to calculations
as

of what

useful

harmful. But
can
men

logos is

not

calculate what

merely instrumental, is useful without a standard

Aristotle

understands

it. How
"X"

of measure of what

is

useful or

hsrmful to? Logos thus includes the ability to articulate, compare and rank various desires, to determine what is right, ss well ss the cspscity to deter
mine whst

is

conducive

to achieving these ends. Men thus exercise

and express

their full rational potential

only in politicsl association. Although individuals acquire both their distinctive talents

and traits

along
of

ability dividual differences

with their

to choose a way of life only in a political association, in


products of the
natural

are not merely or completely labor. On the contrary, Aristotle argues, there are

division

differences in indi
makes

vidual of

potential; it is the

existence of such

differences that

the division

labor rational, productive, and generally beneficial. If there were no such differences in potential, neither differentiation nor hierarchy of any kind would be just. Specialization would merely constitute a restriction and contor
natural

tion of human

potential.

All

social organization would rest

ultimately

on arbi

trary

preferences and coercive control.

The

master-slave relation represents

the

simplest and most extreme esse.

Aristotle's discussion
characteristics of all
and

of the master-slave relation reveals


association:

two

fundamental
of

human

(1)

the utility

of a

division

labor,

(2)

the need to use force to maintain order. Like

Marx, Aristotle

suggests

that the most fundamental division of labor is that between


body.4

mind or soul and

Through

an snslysis of the compound constitution of the argues that such a

individusl humsn
and

being, however, Aristotle


beneficial. If
tion
soul

division is necesssry, natural,

does

not rule

body,

that

is, if

there is no

intelligent direc

of physical

motion, no man will


and

long

survive.

Rule

of

the soul or mind is analogy, Aristotle

thus necessary
4.

beneficial for both


Ideology,"

ruler and ruled.

By

2nd ed. (New

Karl Marx, "The German York: Norton, 1978),

reprinted

in Robert Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader,

p.

159.

190

Interpretation
has
a right to control the actions of another com are related to each other as soul

therefore argues, one man pletely, to own

him, if the two


is thus
own

is to body.
orders

The but his

nstursl

slsve

humsn

being

with enough resson

to

follow

not

to direct his

life. He lscks

enough

foresight

snd control

to order

own sffsirs

sufficiently to

survive without

direction. Rule

by

s msster

is

good

for the

slsve ss well ss the

msster, becsuse the slsve left slone is unsble

to preserve himself. All

tence,
just

so preservstion

when

sre nsturslly sttached to their own exis regsrded ss good. Although msstery is be msy certsinly both psrties benefit, the justice of msstery does not rest on the

humsn beings

consent of

the slsve. It could not

becsuse the

nstursl or

justly

enslsved man

precisely becsuse he is not sble to determine or to do whst is best for himself. The masters have to determine which men ought to be slaves and

is

enslsved

force them to
than consent,
common

serve.

Mastery

can

be just
does

even when

it

rests on

force
rule.

rather

but forceful

conquest

not suffice

to establish

just

Only

benefit

establishes

justice.
associate with each other not

The only benefit Aristotle


enslsve csuse

reason

human beings

is for their

mutual

or pleasure,
wss

but

mutual

benefit does

necessarily
slsves.

mean equal

benefit.
men

certsinly not quixotic others in order to preserve


wsnt

or unobservsnt enough to or

believe thst

benefit the

They

tske slsves be

they

to use them to obtsin or to do what the masters want,


not

for the

benefit
mon

of the

mssters,
which

the slsves. Aristotle


slsves

does

not emphssize

the com

benefit

for the

is

mere preservation

so much as the essen

tially instrumental character of mastery. Despite a common opinion to the con trary, Aristotle argues, careful examination of the situation shows that command
snd control of volved

the sctions of other humsn


commsnd sre not good or a reliable steward

beings his

snd the

division

of

lsbor in

in thst

desirable in themselves. A fortunate


slaves

master will

find

to

manage

for him

so

that

he

will

be free to
or virtue consists

engage

in

politics or

philosophy (i255b30-37). Human

excellence

does
in
a

not consist

way

of

merely in the recognition of superiority by others; it life, a kind of activity thst the psrticipsnts find satisto some other good. Aristotle's suggestion that

fying

in

itself,

not as a means

the work of slsves might

be

performed snd

by

"divine

machines"

msy

mske

the dif

ference he

sees

between

Technology,
rather

again the

crease our power or

msstery intelligent direction of physical force, is supposed to in ability to realize our desires; it is essentially instrumental
or valuable

politics

clesrer to

the modern reader.

than

choiceworthy
and

in

and

of

itself. It

could

only

replace

politics, deliberation
ment and

judgment

by

rigidly restricting
serve.5

the mental

develop
de

the variety of

life it is

supposed to

Both the
pend upon

emergence and continued existence of a politicsl sssocistion

the

intelligent

use of

force to

msintsin order snd a

division

of

labor

5.
and

There are, indeed, some who fear that it will. Cf. Joseph Weizenbaum, Computer Power Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation (San Francisco: Freeman, 1976), and Jacques
1964).

Ellul, Technological Society (New York: Knopf,

Aristotle

on the

Limits
free

and

Satisfactions of Political Life


from the
press of necessity.

-191

to produce enough to
coercion and a

some

Both the

need

for

division

of

labor inherent in the

master-slave relation

belong
order,

to the

household; both

but

neither constitutes

necessary its essence, that it

are

parts or elements of
which makes

every

political

it

distinctly
and

political.

On

the contrary, both of these necessary elements constitute limitations of the


extent

politics all.

to which

can

be free, reasonable, just

beneficial to
when

Aristotle indicates the

extent of such

two respects in which nature


that masters and slaves

limitations only falls short of her

briefly

he

observes
"intends"

"intention."

First,

she

difficult if

not

be visibly distinguishable (I254b27~34). In fsct, it is impossible to tell who is s nstursl slsve snd who s msster,

becsuse the primsry difference is one of intellectual potential rather than physi cal strength, and intellectual potential cannot be seen. In order to be identified,
intellectual
potential

has to be actualized,
and,

and

the

actualization

depends

upon a

child's social more

(family)
his

later,

political position.

As the Coleman life does

report

has

recently
much on

reminded

us, the development of a child's intelligence depends


circumstances.

very
men

family
have

good

family

not suffice

to

produce

excellence,
not

moreover.

As Aristotle
sons,

observes

(i255bi-5), outstanding
public
men

do

always

excellent also not

not

only because
sons

often

neglect

their own

families but
excellence and

because the

do

not

have

the same

potential.
"intends"

Human

is

it. Social

political

simply inherited, although nature again order, the division of labor, does not and

never will snd

perfectly reflect the differences in individual potentisl clearly talent, becsuse the development of potential into excellence presupposes
and

social order.

But the fact that

political order can

completely duplicate the naturally indicated


abandon

order

only approximate and never does not lead Aristotle to

the

natural as

the

standard of right.

Contrary
much

to

Marx, Aristotle
an ox.

suggests that

the division of labor arises not so

from

need as

from the desire to live

well.6

One

man can support

himself

alone with

only

Unfortunstely,
most

the same

tendency
ever

to amass more than

they

need also prevents

human beings from

realizing their desires.


the requirements of a

Although

acquisition ought

to be defined and limited the utility of sny

by

"mesns"

fully
its

sstisfying life,
or

since

must

be determined
see

by

"end"

purpose,

it is

much essier, ss

Aristotle observes, to

the utility

of goods
men

and

money thsn

it is to find

fully

thus devote themselves to acquiring as


more
concerned with

satisfying way of life. Most much as they can, because they are

ultimately

their mere preservation than

they

sre

with

living
will

well

(I257b4i-i258&2).
emphssizes,
amsss ss

As Hobbes lster
need, so

human beings
ss possible

never

know exsctly

whst

they

they
in
a

much

to take csre of ss msny this


unlimited use

future
acqui

possible.7

contingencies as

But, Aristotle insists,


perversion.

desire for

sition results

fundamental
156-58.

Rather than

money

and goods

6. Marx,
7.

op.

cit., pp.

Thomas

Hobbes, Leviathan VI, XIII.

192
to

Interpretation
of activity,
more goods.

improve the quality of their lives by raising their level men exercise and improve their faculties in order to acquire first illustration Aristotle
well, that
uses

most

The

is indicative. Men

need courage

in

order

to

live
con

is,

not

to live

quest,
never

they
find

make courage satisfaction

in fear, but in mercenary armies or wars merely into a means of acquiring more wealth.
own

for

They

in their

activity; they look only for the

(external)
of most

rewards.

Although Aristotle's
men

view of

the primary

driving

forces in the lives

is thus

quite

similar

to

Hobbes',
The

there are two important differences.

First, Aristotle describes


fesr
of

a positive attachment to

life

rather

than the negstive

death

or the unknown.

naive or natural view


maintains

is that life is good,

something to
account

be desired. Second, Aristotle


solely

that there are some few

who are not moved

by

the desire

for

acquisition or mere

only

of the majority,

Hobbes does

not reveal

life. In taking the full human truth. A


If that is true,

few

can achieve

full
not

satisfaction

in philosophy
and always

or government.
consist

human life does


ceases

necessarily only in death. So long as some

merely in striving that human beings have to devote their lives


a

to providing the goods, that


one will not

is,

so

long

division

of

labor is necessary, every


there

be

able

to devote his or
most

her life to
good

politics or philosophy. end.

Nevertheless, if
is conflict, force

men

seek

without

is bound to be
And
where

competition and conflict on what we call economic grounds. must

there

be

used to estsblish order.

The

use of

force is therefore

necesssry in instituting politicsl order not only to provide necessities in the form of the msster-slsve relstion but slso to desl with the conflict thst results

from the
of

expsnsion of

desire thst follows the


not
of

productive success of a

division
natural

labor. Since scarcity does


as

result

so

much

from the limits

of

goods

the

unlimited

technology would not Book II, acquisitive desires


solely Plato
economic means. attempted
rich and

human desire, the productivity of modern fundamentally alter the situation. As Aristotle argues in
range
give

rise

to conflict which cannot be solved

by

to abolish self-interested conflict or poor,

"factions."

between

by
and

making the

citizens of

his

politeia

as

much

especially like
radical

each other as

possible

having

them share everything. This

most

communism ever proposed

is radically defective, according to Aristotle, in both means and end. If a political society necesssrily comprehends several different conflict csnnot be reduced by functions, destroying differentistion without

destroying the possibility of politics ss well. cisely in determining the difficult question
smong which groups of citizens Like Plato, Aristotle asserts that
but Aristotle
function for
criticizes
snd

Politicsl deliberation
of which

consists pre

activities

to encourage

how to

reward them with goods or praise. produce political unity,

education
not

is the way to

Plato for

recognizing

the significance of economic

education.

If the farmers

and guardians receive

the

same

education,

Aristotle asks, how

will

they

remain able to perform their

different functions?

Aristotle

on the

Limits

and

Satisfactions of Political Life


unify the
city?

193
means

If they don't, how does the


more

educational scheme

Education

than the acquisition of skills and common


so

beliefs; human beings learn


their way of
and

largely by doing,
protect an

their education is virtually


or

inseparable from

life. Rsther than unity itself


accepted

in the abstract, it is the desire to foster


activities

way

of

life that holds together different

which

necessarily constitute a polity. Although Plato purports to rely

on education to

unify his politeia, Aristotle

observes, he actually depends more on the communistic institutions. Aristotle's


critique of
core of

these institutions thus points to his understanding of the origin or


self-love.

the politicsl conflict thst Plsto tried to svoid

Humsn beings

sre
all

nsturslly first attached to their own existence. By having all citizens own property in common, Aristotle argues, Plato insures that no one will take any
of

care of

it. Each

will not

tend to

leave the
to

"commons"

msnagement of the

to others,

and

it

will

be

possible

identify
no one

the

failure

of

any

specific

individual to

contribute

his

share

because

hss sny

psrticulsr responsi

bility
to the

for any

specified psrt.
snd

The

ssme observstion spplies even more

strongly

fsmily

the raising of children. Men care for their own, both as an

extension of

themselves and because others hold them responsible.


not extend a close

By

making
so

the

city into one big family, Plato does much as dissolve it. No one any longer
The foundation
of the on

tie, therefore,

"belongs"

to any one else.


structure

traditional

family

is

not

solely

economic

or

primarily bssed

the general difference between the sexes in physicsl

strength snd reproductive

function, sccording
relstions.

to Aristotle. On the contrary, the


msster-slsve or economic

fsmily
can

comprises three

different
one.

One is the

function, but thst is only


reason;
the
relation

Women

are not
and

between husband

properly slaves, because they wife is a one of


"political"

equals, as

opposed

to the despotic rule of slaves or the monarchical guidance

of children

(1259b!).

Since it involves choice, the


or procreative.
of psrents

conjugal

relstion

is

not

merely animal, erotic,


the educationsl
educsted

Third

and most

important, however, is
children csn

relstion

to children.

Like sdults,

be

only if

their needs sre met,

but

most sdults will care enough

to take

only for their own children, as an extension of themselves or, at least, as a duty for which they are publicly and individually held responsible. The family structure is thus necessary, because men will care for their children
the trouble

identifisble ss theirs. As Aristotle only when these are publicly and privately between politicsl snd subpolitical differences indicstes in his discussion of the associations in Book I, the family is economically necessary to produce future
generations of

human beings. It is politically necessary to


regime

make most men act

to

preserve

the

by taking

csre

to psss on their own wsy of

life to their

children.

The

specific chsrscter snd regulstion of


regime

fsmily

life

will

therefore slso

vary according to the


If
education

(1260b 12-18).

is,

or ought

to

be,

the

first

concern of

system will

be

provided and

the

laws

will regulate

any government, family life as well

a public ss more

194

Interpretation
studies.
of

formsl

the division
position will

entirely within the private family, be unjust, because privste weslth snd family certainly determine future occupations rather than individual potential. Citi
educstion remains almost will

If

labor

zens will common.

be

encouraged

to

care

for their own, moreover,


aware of

rather

than what is

Like Plato, Aristotle is


segregated, that

the

Spartan

system of public and

equal,

although

education

for both

males and

females. Like Plato,

he

suggests

men will not

be

educated unless their mothers are also

(1260a).

Unlike Plato,
plsce

fsmily

however, Aristotle srgues that public efforts cannot entirely reties. Personsl sttention is importsnt not merely becsuse humsn

beings desire it, but becsuse it is such a clesr indicstion of whst is vslued. If educstion is truly deemed to be important, fathers will concern themselves with it not only in general, in the law, but also as it specifically concerns
their own sons.

Indeed,
achieved

concern

for the

existence

and
men

future
in

of

their own

families
unity

constitutes one of

the strongest

bonds uniting

a polity.

Political Aristotle

cannot

be

by destroying
itself

man's attachment

to his own,

suggests, because

politics

grows out of this self-same attachment.

Aristotle limitation

states

his full

view of the political

function
the

of the

family

a critique of

Plato, because the


political

family

structure

involves

another

only as fundamental

on not

justice. Plato

suggested

"community
their

of wives and

children"

only in

order

to overcome man's attachment to his own but also


opportunity"

to offer both sexes an "equal

to
rather

develop

individual leads the

poten

tial, that
(except

is,

as a matter of

justice

than efficiency. In Book

I, Aristotle
woman

claims that as
when

the

master rules

the slave

by

nature, so the

man

the union is against nature, that thus

is,

when a woman marries

her

implicitly possibility explicitly discussed in the Republic (4550-4563) thst s womsn inferior to 3 few men will still be superior to most. Since he insists thst the conjugal associstion is
recognizes

inferior) (1259b 1-5). He

the

politicsl 3nd reflects occur

in the immediste

sequel thst political relstions

generally
see

between equsls,
the basis

who rule snd sre ruled

in turn, it is difficult to

why

he

nevertheless

concludes
of

that the man should alwsys rule (i259b5-io). In

describing
household,

the three

different kinds

of rule

or

relations

in the

Aristotle

explains that the parts are


or

not participste and children and

in is

council

do, but

the

different. Where the slave does deliberation (fiovXevtixov) at all, both women woman's participation is axvgov, without authority,

without

as

(dasXeg). To ssy that the womsn deliberates authority, rule or decisiveness (the alternative meanings of xvgioc;) is much as to say that her reason does not rule because she does not rule.
undeveloped
not

the child

Aristotle does
ception

give the reason

why

she

does

not

rule

or

justify

the ex

equality in political relations. Aristotle admits that his discussion of the family and the proper excellence and functions of its varied psrts in Book I is not complete (i26ob8-20). The question must be reconsidered in the context of the discussion of the different
regimes

to the ordinary

becsuse it is

question

of

the respective excellences of ruled and

Aristotle
rulers.

on

the

Limits
sfter

and

Satisfactions of Political Life


a part of the polis,

195

The

fsmily is,

all,

but

and the excellence of

the part

is

relstive to the whole.

When Aristotle

returns to

the question of the

relative excellences of ruler and ruled cusses

the

different

virtues of

in Book III (1277^4-30), he also dis the two sexes. The only virtue peculiar to rulers.

he concludes, is cbgovrjoig or practicsl resson which is and can be developed only in the process of governing, that is, in use. Otherwise the virtues of the
ruler and and of must know how to obey (himself before he can rule. The virtues of the two sexes differ, not because others) differences in natural potential for deliberation, according to Aristotle, but

the ruled are the same; the ruler

because
the

of

their

different household functions.


of

According

to the true laws of

household (olxovoLiia), the business is to


secure.

the man is to acquire where that of

the woman

he

uses

to describe the

(Is Aristotle guilty of an ironic pun here? The verb female function, cbvXctTTEtv, hss the ssme root ss Plsto
uses

the noun, tbvkaxr), thst

to describe the

rulers

in the Republic.) The


excel

definition lence

of

the functionsl difference underlying sexusl differences in to


refer

seems

bsck to the

srt of war,

described

ss s

form

of

the art of

acquisition and so oikonomia

in Book I (i256b24-28). If so, the


reflects

sexual

divi
more

sion

of

labor in the household

differences in

physical

strength

than

deliberative potential; and the woman's silence or is a product more of place than intellectual deficiency. Aristotle's discussion of slavery makes it clear, moreover, that he does not regard physical strength as a legiti
mate ground

"modesty"

for

rule."

of others

Defense is usually considered to be just while tsking the property and lives is not. Perhaps for thst resson Aristotle includes the srt of wsr or

the

hunting

of slsves

statesman. with will

Only

only conditionally in the true if nature provides for man's needs


of slaves

oikonomia

and art of

the

as

she

does for the

chick

the yolk,

is the taking

just. Aristotle does

not srgue thst there

be

a sufficient number of natural slaves to serve the needs of each oikos

or polis; on the contrary,

in Book VII (1330326-33) he indicates that


naturally
slaves will

even

in

the best regime some

who are not

be forced to best

serve others

proposing to free cause he is incapable

by

some of of

them. (A natural slave could not be


csre of

freed, be
of nstural

taking

himself.) Even
uneven

the

politicsl order

does

not

snd cannot

correspond

exsctly to the

distribution

potential

among individuals.
a natural

Just as slavery is finally justified not merely by individuals in talent but also as a necessary means
the political association, so
tics.9

difference among from


poli

or part of a greater whole, of women

is the

perpetual

debarment

Some

must provide

the

necessities so

that others csn


Socrates'

be free. So Aristotle
Wives,"

paper Community of 8. See also Arlene Saxonhouse, "Aristotle's Critique of April 19-21. prepared for presentation at the Midwest Political Science Association meetings,

1979, Chicago, Illinois.


9.

Press,

Even Susan Okin, Women in Western Political Thought (Princeton: Princeton University teleological 1979). p. 235. admits that Aristotle treats women in accord with his general
to the rule for men.

understanding, not as exceptions

196

Interpretation
his
critique of

observes st the end of


must msnsge

Plsto's Laws (i265b22-27) thst

some one

the household. In Book


s steward

I, however, Aristotle

suggests

thst it

is

desirable to find

to oversee the

employment of one's slaves

in

order

to free oneself for politics or philosophy.

Why

couldn't

wife

also

hire

household
not sppesr

manager?

In

contrast on

to slsvery, the

subordinstion of women

does

to

rest

primsrily

the need for sn economic division of

labor. in his dif


sre sre

True,
not

the provision of necessities

is

a prerequisite snd ss

of politicsl

life; but it is
to nstursl

sufficient.

Men

must slso sttempt not

be educsted;

Aristotle

points out

critique

of

Plsto's
will

to mske

politicsl

order correspond

ferences,
certsin

men

sttend

to the educstion of their sons unless

they

these children sre in fsct theirs. The fundsmentsl resson


of

women

bsrred from the full development


sppesrs children cern

their deliberative

fsculties in
thst

public

life

to

be the his

need

to

msximize esch

husbsnd's

conviction

his

wife's

sre

own

so

thst

he

will s

tend to their educstion. As public con

for

educstion

decresses, in
need of

democracy for
a

exsmple, Aristotle lster ob


women

serves,

so

does the

to regulste the sctivities of

snd

children.

Sexusl differentistion foundation


ences

function does hsve


more

natural of

foundation, but
own

that

appears

to

consist

in

man's

love

his

than

in differ

between the

sexes

in

potential

intellectual

ability.

Aristotle is thus very

much aware of

the role of self-interest in politics snd

its primsrily
existence

economic msnifestation. so

differ,
are not

He simply insists that as forms of human do the expressions and demsnds of self-interest. Since sll
points out

interests

simply economic, he
cannot

in his

critique of

Phaleas,

all

conflicts of
nomic end

interest

be

solved

solely
will

by

economic means.

Because

eco

desires
giving

extend

beyond need,

as soon

as need

is

met,

conflict will not

by

all equal shares.

Some

try

to get more, not

simply because

they

want more

men ss

being

better. Since

things, but because they wsnt honor, to be recognized by other economic desires resdily expsnd beyond need, eco
snd csn

nomic conflict

is inevitsble

be

regulsted

that
of a

is,

government.

Government

will also

only by noneconomic means, be based on self-interest, but interest

different kind.
or

Relatively

few

people

opportunity
people will

the desire to psrticipate regularly in


content

in sny community hsve either the directing its affairs. Most


business.10

be

merely to be left
not of

alone to mansge their own

Prompted

by

stsrvation, people

tively
in

rare

and

certainly

may revolt, but such popular uprisings are rela long duration. The people who desire s place
so much as a

government on an
"more,"

desire for

ongoing basis will not be prompted by need which is most often a desire for recognition.

Political
origin.
civil

is thus not fundamentally or properly speaking economic in for that reason, Aristotle suggests, it is possible to obtain Precisely if the desire for recognition, office, or honors of the few mskes peace,
conflict

them unwilling to engage

in purely

scquisitive sctivities snd

they

sre granted

io.

Cf. Machiavelli. Prince IX.

Aristotle

on

the

Limits

and

Satisfactions of Political Life


desires
of others with

197

the power to control the scquisitive

force (i267b4-io).

The wsy in which s community sllocates offices and honors is thus absolutely crucial, because it determines the kinds of activities or achievements ambitious
men pursue and whether or not

they
the

will see an

opportunity to
"people"

realize their

de

sires and so support

the regime.

Aristotle
with

mskes us confront or organization. political

fsct thst the

set

leadership
be led

The

character snd educstion of the even

politically only leaders is

thus the
can

decisive

phenomenon,

in democracies. Political leaders

or educated
us

through an appeal to their desire for recognition, but

Aristotle
which

is not the only motive become tyrants, to have the power to do whatever they want, or as he says, to have pleasure without pain. They are mistaken in this attempt, he suggests, because there are always
reminds

that the

desire for Some

recognition

brings

men

into

politics.

also seek to

"costs"

"trade-offs"

or

in

politics of

the kind

we

have discussed in the

context of

the

division of lsbor. The only source of pure plessure is philosophy, presumsbly ss Plsto argues, because the truth is the only good human being can share without losing any themselves, that is, the only good they can truly hold in
common and noncompetitively.

Nevertheless, Aristotle does


ancient political virtue recognition and

not support

Montesquieu's later

suggestion

that

consists

fundsmentslly
Aristotle

in

an

appeal

to the

desire for
of ancient

is

basically

military."

argues that

this

is true

practice, particulsrly of
constitute

Spsrts, but he insists

thst

the

whole of practical or political virtue.

militsry The excellence

prowess

does

not

of a ruler, as

Aristotle
plex

it, is primarily intellectual. It consists in determination Aristotle himself begins in Book III of
presents

duplicating
what

the com
not

is just

only
not

in

general

but

also

in the

specific circumstances.

Such

considerations

apply

fundamental law, or the organization of offices and only to the founding, the honors in the constitution, but also potentially to every piece of legislation, as Aristotle observes, small every particular administrative decision, because, can change the entire changes, in the qualifications for voting, for example,
constitution

(128934-6;

1303321-25).

It takes

great prudence are

to

foresee the
continually

long-term
necessary

effects snd so

of current actions.

These deliberations
snd

thus

difficult thst they tsx

mental snd physicsl capscity.

They

are

fully occupy s human being's entire inherently satisfying, although not en


slwsys

tirely
form

without

pain, becsuse
since

political

decisions

involve hsrd

3lternstives

snd 3lw3ys

h&ve costs,

they
few

always benefit some more than others.


participate at

of government,

only

this level and so realize

In any the full


will

benefits. Everyone
slwsys sttend

csnnot govern; st most the rulers will tske turns.

Most

primsrily to the
people ever

means of their

own self-preservation.

If very few

take part in full

political

deliberation, very few


will

will

fully
1 1.

understand

the

reasons

for any

set of

lsws. Most

obey

on

the bssis

Montesquieu. Spirit of the Laws

IV, V.

198

Interpretation
trust or belief that the laws sre beneficisl.
general

of s general

lsw is chsnged, this


criticizes
encouraged.

belief

will

be brought into

question.

But every time the Aristotle thus


rewarded snd so

Hippodamus'

suggestion that

innovation
s

should

be

Since every change hss such forms should even be considered. Reform
undermining
obedience to the
politics

fundsmentsl cost, only msjor re per se cannot be advocsted without


is the

law.
possible and reason
major source

Improvement in
provement.

is

of

im
or

Politicsl

resson

is essentislly deliberative

rather

thsn

linesr
and

simply additive, however, for two reasons. First, there sre competing commensurable elements to be weighed, and second, the weight of
pends somewhat upon

non-

each

de

the particular circumstsnces, which sre slwsys chsnging.

The
one

most

important

political

decision,
or

as we

determining
In short,

what who

the offices

honors

shall

have seen, is the constitutional be and who is eligible for


is difficult, is
slthough not

them.

should rule.

This

question

im

possible

to snswer, Aristotle sees, becsuse of the necessary differentiation of


groups can claim

function. Several
politicsl affairs.

to provide what
right

most

essential

to the

association

and, therefore, the


can provide all

to have the decisive voice

in its

No

one

group

the community's needs, so any group(s)

denied the

right

to participate to the extent of electing officials st

least

will

have

some

just

grounds

for

complsint.

The primsry
and

sttschment to

his

own exis

tence of esch individusl will, moreover, tend to mske esch group overestimste
the

importance
almost

of

its

own

contribution

denigrate the

services of others.

Conflict
never not

necessarily results;

whether

dissent is

voiced or not, there will regime.


also

be

perfect agreement or consent makes unanimous consent

underlying any

Man's

self-love con

only

extremely unlikely but

invalidates

sent as the sole measure of

justice.
There

Unlike
question,

modern

relativists, Aristotle insists that it is possible to answer the rule,


with reason.

who should

are two

kinds

of considerations

to be taken

into

account.

First,

there are the

broad

criteria set

by

the ends of

the association. A political association

is

more

than a market or a mutual de

fense pact, Aristotle argues, because different


each other without

becoming

volves sgreement on s

polities can trade or slly with politically united (1280a). Political sssocistion in desirable way of life, and those who contribute to the
of

maintensnce of this

distinctive way

life have

a greater claim to participate

in the

government than those who


or

simply

contribute to

its

subsistence

by

pro

viding food
are not

defending

its territory. All

contributions or services to the

necessarily

performed

soldiers,

and soldiers can

discrete groups, however. Farmers can become judges. In order to determine what

by

also

polity be

groups

should participate one must also or

in making decisions for the community, and to look at the specific circumstances or people to see deserve
and
so

what

extent,

which

group

groups, on the whole, contribute most and so

to rule.
most revealing case. because they are able

Mechanics

or

artisans

represent

the

limiting
"nstursl

Clearly,

mechanics and artisans are not

Aristotle
to order their

on

the

Limits

and

Satisfactions of Political Life

199

lives

and preserve

themselves. Their need to lsbor prevents them

from

doing more. They contribute to the msintensnce of the life of the city, but they csnnot psrticipste in politics or government in any very mesningful becsuse have not the sense, time, experience, or occasion to follow and they participate in public deliberations. The institution of political association does
not,

therefore,

enable members of this class to reach their

full human

potentisl.

wellAristotle concludes, therefore, that they should not be citizens in sny ordered regime (i 278s). Have they not been treated unjustly, we might respond;

they, too,
vote?

contribute

to the common
that

good.

Should they

not at

lesst be

sllowed

to

Aristotle

would respond

they enjoy

the advantages of law and order;

in

exchange

for their in the

contribution to the preservation of the city,


concludes that

they, too,

are

preserved.

Nevertheless, he

it is dsngerous

not

to

let them hsve


of

some shsre

enjoyment of power;

for

a polis with a

body
they

disenfran

chised citizens who are numerous and poor must

necessarily be
and

a polis which
will view

is full

of enemies

(128^28-31). Men love their own,

the

government as

their own only

if they

participate
with

in it to

a certain extent.

Aris
of

totle thus mskes

his

recommendstion

regsrd

to artisans

in full

view

the potential costs.

Democracies tend to be
totle observes, but
or vote

more stable

than other

forms

of

government, Aris

they

also tend to

be ill-governed. If the

people

decide issues

psrty platform directly, they do so on the bssis of insdequste information and disregard for the need to adapt to changing circumstances. If they merely vote for officials to make these decisions for them, they must be
a

for

very fine judges of character (i28ib-i282a; I326b2). Usually they are Either they blame officials for problems they had no control over, or they
vate sycophantic scoundrels.

not. ele

(Aristotle

Athens'

might well recall

trestment of
s government which

Perikles

as well ss

Kleon.) Most fundsmentsl, however,


life
and endorses and

elevates the necessities of or oligarchic,

those who provide them, whether democratic

implicitly

frees the

acquisitive

desires. It

will neces

sarily be
quisitive

reasons

corrupt in itself and corrupt the people. The only check on the ac desires is reason, but Aristotle recognizes that the people who see the why acquisition should be limited are few, so few that they will not
press

be

apt

to

their claims
see that

to

rule. will

They have
"outvoted"

too

much

practical others.

sense

(130404-5).
extent

They

they

be
on

in

effect

by

To the
not

to

which

all

government

rests

the consent of the many,

it is

based

on reason.
reason can solve the political problem.

Although
not

Aristotle

suggests that

it is

likely

to

be

effective possible

regime

generally "aristocracy") but

very is not

often

at

least

not

fully

effective.

The best

regime

which

elevates

the best men (an

one which checks the

worst

abuses of power.

In

"mixed
the

or polity, elections and offices are structured so that powers of the people

they balance
desires

(numbers)
wealthy.

and their

relatively many

moderate

against
varia-

the rapacity of the few

There

are

possible

structures or

200

Interpretation
no such mixture

tions, Aristotle recognizes, but


a substsntial middle class.

is

possible where

there

is

not

Only

the middle class

has

an

interest in

keeping

the

balance, because they


of all

would suffer

from

either expropriation and redistribution

property
regimes

by

the poor or oppressive taxation

by

the party of the rich.


seek to educate

Even

which

do

not

intentionally

and

explicitly

their

citizens

have

formative effect, but in these

regimes

predominantly
are

economic

factors have

a much more powerful role.

Many
on

people, Aristotle observes,


of government

believe that there in the

fundamentally

only

two types

democracies

and oligarchies. contrast

(The distinction lives


authoritarisn and

in contemporary
not

political science

between

psrticipstory.)

Distinguishing
describe
"people"

them merely

in terms

of the number of people

involved does

regimes or s

sccurstely, however. As Aristotle reminds


"msjority"

us, the rule of the


whole

still

represents

the rule of the


slwsys psrtial.

by

s psrt,

very

often

in its

own self-interest.

Politics is

The

government of

ent, moreover,
gimes ss either

msny educsted middle-clsss citizens is significsntly differ from the rule of poor pesssnts. Men tend to cstegorize all re

democracies

or

oligsrchies, Aristotle suggests, not simply on

the to

bssis

of the number of people

involved but becsuse

rich snd poor sppear

be the only mutually exclusive characteristics of ruling classes. Since it is possible to be both poor snd brave or rich snd educated, democracy and oli
garchy
scribe or simple economic and numerical classifications
a regime.

do

not suffice

to de

There

are

monarchies, aristocracies, and polities as well as

democracies,
self-interest
classes makes

oligarchies, and tyrannies. Whether the ruling clsss defines its


of the prosperity of the whole or over snd against fundamental difference. Even when the ruling party is self-interested and other
more

in terms
a

evidently
nomic
and

and

narrowly

terms, there

are still

defines its interest primarily in eco important practicsl differences smong oligsrchies
self-interest,
as

democracies.
action always reflects

Political

Aristotle

presents

it, but

that

fact
sll not

alone

does

not suffice

to show that it

is

unjust or will

be

effective.

Like

human beings,

depends

see

rulers act for their own good. Whether their rule is just or how they understand their own interest. The best man would that it is not in his interest to abuse s slsve or srtissn; the middle clsss

on

is

also

in its

public sets

politically self-controlled, but for economic rather than moral reasons, but not on an individual or private level. Although a mixed

regime

is

not possible

without a

large

middle

class, that

is,

the best

regime

generally possible depends on the existence of s certsin distribution of weslth, the distribution of wealth is not in itself politically determinative because gov
ernment can change

the

distribution through taxation


both the distribution

or outright expropriation.

The

political effects of so to

of wealth snd the mode of pro

duction,

the effect

indirect. They affect the polity largely through have on the characteristic attitudes of the people. they The differences Aristotle describes among democracies and oligarchies, for
speak, are more

Aristotle

on

the

Limits

and

Satisfactions of Political Life


of

201 property
and

example, have two primarily economic sources: the distribution


population on related posed of

the one hsnd


of

Aristotle

slwsys

insists thst the two factors be If


s

production"

snd

the "mode
smsll

on the other.
or

highly
persed,

stsble.

msny Small lsndholders

lsndholders

farmers, it is

apt to

be

democracy is com law-abiding snd

or

their time sttending to their own sffsirs.

fsrmers necesssrily hsve to spend most of Since they sre geographically dis

it is difficult for
often.

them to organize or participste


will

directly
opposing

in

political

deliberation very
and to
maintsin

They
sre

tend, therefore, to
of

support the rule of

law

widespresd

distribution

tsxstion), becsuse both


terest.
meet s volves

in their

rather

property immediate

(by

oppressive

and narrow economic

in de

The

same

is true

of sn

oligsrchy
will

composed of

msny
other

citizens

who csn

relatively low property


to urbsn

quslificstion.

If,

on

the

hsnd,
and

power

the lsw

day-laborers, they frequently, becsuse it will be relstively essy for


apt
slso

be

to meet regularly

to change

them to congregste.
st

They

will

be

spt

to

expropriste

the

holdings for

of

the rich,

lesst to tsx
an

property hesvily, in

order

to pay themselves

public service.

Likewise,

few very weslthy fsmilies who recognize no clsim oligarchy right or humsn excellence but wealth is apt to adopt very oppressive laws
composed of s even

of
or

to act outside the law

in

an sttempt to

incresse their

own sre

holdings

even

more.

The distribution

of weslth snd types of


arouse

portant not

merely because they

property held conflict. As Aristotle


"right"

politically im argues in Book V,


question; there

politicsl conflict seldom revolves

slwsys sn sdmixture of a concern

solely sround the for what is

economic

is

or

just. Distribution

and

production"

the "mode of

are

politically important because they determine the

way

of

life

of a

people, their general

habits

snd opinions,

especially

with regard

to the law.

Surely it
way
of

would

be best if

all men could

rationally decide
sre

what

is the best
pre

life

and then

foster it intentionally. Lsws

necessary,

however,

not entirely rational, and not all members of a cisely because human beings are to engsge in extended deliberations. A divi leisure society will ever have the

sion of

lsbor is necesssry

with

the result thst most men


economic

will spend most of

their

time pursuing s vsriety of essentislly


persusded to restrain their
scquisitive

tssks.

When they

csnnot

be

desires

intentionslly

snd willingly,

it is

slone does not suffice to produce obedience to the necesssry to use force. Force lsw, however, becsuse it is too clear that force may be used to gratify the acquisitive cannot

desires

of the

rulers whst

at the

expense

of

the ruled. If most citizens


resson

be

persusded

to do

is

right or

commonly beneficisl for that


see

slone,

they msy

still

obey the lsw because they


goods snd

it

as

in

their own economic

interest. Both the distribution of

the kinds of property held sre sub


csnnot shspe or

ject,

after

all, to legal

control.

When the laws

improve the

chsracter of citizens

directly, they may


name

approximate

the same results

indirectly

through

economic regulation.

Although Aristotle's

is

justly

associsted with

the thought thst politicsl

202

Interpretation
is the only means by which human beings for self-rule, he does not advocate participation
seems as
can per realize
se.12

psrticipation potential

their

full

On the

con

trary, he

interested

as

James Madison in

diffusing
and

the energies and

directing
into

the self-interest of those who have not been educated to public service

private and

largely

economic one's

directions.

Organizing
the
a

arguing

or pres

suring merely to foster

own

interest

at

expense of others

does

not

develop

the highest human

faculties. There is

big difference

between

public

deliberations concerning the good of the community, or political participation properly speaking, and interest group sctivity. Aristotle does not merely point out the wsy in which the privste pursuit of economic self-interest, ss opposed
to the use of public power to sttsin economic

benefits, lesds
brosder

to more stable,

less

oppressive government.

He

slso points out the

effects on the chsr

scter of or

the populsce, the inculcstion of s relstively

low

order of moderation
and

self-control, which
self-rule.

is

a reflection at

least

of man's

higher

fuller capacity
sim
sde-

for

As

a student of

both Machiavelli
of

and

Montesquieu, Msdison
whether we retsin sn

ply drops thst


quste

concern.

The question,

course, is
or politics

understsnding

of either

legislstion

if

we

ignore the formstive solely in terms


of

effects, intended or sccidental, and conceive of government


what

it

controls or

leaves free from

restraint.

Rather than
almost all

advocate

participation,

Aristotle

supports

the rule of law

in

law is ususlly superior to ad hoc decisions, he srgues, because it is freer from passion and hence more reasonable. Not only is
cases.

The

rule of

the law general in application and so freer from personal


than particular
of a prior

interest

or attachment
product

decisions

made

in

particular

cases, but the law is also the


legislators'

determination

of what

is

right without regard to particular applica

tions. If the law is spt to be better than the


specific

direct

adjudication of
general

controversies,
of what

however, it
is
right

cannot

be better than the


Laws thus

legislators'

understanding
moreover,
will not

and appropriate.

always reflect the cease to

men who make when

them, that

is,

the ruling body. Good

laws

be good,
self-

they

sre not suited to the psrticulsr people

in question; they
wisdom
which

be
will

obeyed and a negative


result.

lesson in

reasonableness and order or

control

There is
of the

no

substitute

finally

for

political

combines

knowledge

general principles of politics with observation of

the specific circumstances and the


what

limits these
of

place

on

the achievement of

is in itself desirable. In his discussion


and

the relative merits of the rule

of

law

the absolute rule of one man of superior wisdom.

Aristotle thus

returns

at the end of

Book III to the

essential tension

conditions

for

political

life

and the realization of

between the necessary its end that he introduced by

asking
12.

whether mechanics should

be

citizens.

Political Theory, Vol. 3. No. 4 Undemocratic Party in Robert A. Goldwin, ed., Political Parties, U.S.A. (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1980), PP- 34-49: Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision (Boston: Little Brown, i960), pp. 58-63.
(November 1975),
pp.

Delba Winthrop, "Aristotle

and

Political

Responsibility,"

406-22; Benjamin Barber. "The

System,"

Aristotle

on the

Limits

and

Satisfactions of Political Life


be
preferred to

203

Although the
cretion,

rule of

law is

almost slwsys to one msn

individusl dis
pervert the

Aristotle
should

srgues thst
rule

if

is

wiser

than sll
resson.

his
It

countrymen com
would

bined, he
end of worse.

sbsolutely.

He hss

more

the sssocistion entirely, moreover,

if the better best

were subordinsted

to the

Nevertheless, the

rule of the one

msn represents snother extreme

and limiting case, because politicsl relstions are essentially deliberative, con ducted among equals, and there is no real, interpersonsl exchsnge of opinion or equslity in the absolute rule of one man. His rule is, therefore, not truly polit

ical. If
a man

such an

would, he

extraordinary man wished to benefit his countrymen, and such would legislate for them. Political knowledge must be essen
yet

tially
acts

practical, because it concerns practice;

the man who possesses and

upon

it,

should the

opportunity

arise,

also stands somewhat outside and

above politics

(interestedness) itself.
suggestion

Aristotle's lation
act

that political knowledge properly culminates in legis


political

and that

the construction of the constitution is the fundamental


respects

differs in two importsnt

from

similsr srguments snd

lster

offered

by

Mschiavelli concerning the importsnce of "Legislstor."13 Aristotle certsinly does role of the
use religion new constitution

"founding"

by

Roussesu

on the

not suggest thst the

legislator

to convince the people who cannot understand the reasons for his to adopt it as a matter of divine
will.

He does

recognize the exist

priesthood as a political office

(1322^2-37), but he
not

seems to much

hsve the
respect

ing

institutions in

mind.

He himself does
when

indicste

for the

Greek Gods jections


urges of

or their

worship

he

humsn

chsrscteristics snd

they merely desires (I252b25~30). And he repestedly


commonest mistskes politicisns mske,

observes thst

represent pro

his

resders

to svoid one of the


manipulate

to

sttempt

to deceive or
second

the people (i297b5-io; 130831-5;

I308b30-

40).

The
of

difference follows from the first. Aristotle denies the any radically
particular

possi

bility
must

instituting
suited

new

political

order.

Institutions

snd

laws

be

to the

character

of the

people. material

If these institutions
ways, as

serve

to educate as

well as

to benefit the people

in

they

can,

this education will

occur over time

and through

practice rather than

precept.

Political

order

is

not

damentally
and

a product

primarily of force.

s mstter of rhetoric

any

more

than

it is fun

Aristotle's Politics thus

points

more

to the possibility of political wisdom

knowledge than to any specific set of reforms. Here, too, his work stands in marked contrast to Plsto's Republic, at least on the surface. If political
consists

knowledge

largely
of

of reflections on politicsl practice, and practice

improve

on

the

basis

these

reflections,

ss

Aristotle

argues

may in Book II

(i264ai-5;
sion

to

man will hsve the occa 1269a), it is extremely unlikely that any that it is ss difficult observes Aristotle scratch. from legislate

entirely

to reform sn existing

regime

ss

it is

to design sn entirely new one.

The

leg-

13.

Prince

VI; Discourses l:xi; Social Contract 11:7.

204 islator

Interpretation
needs

to know

both the direction in full


political

which

to move and the


order

limits

of

the

possible, that
small

is,

to have

knowledge, in
changes can

to achieve even a

but truly beneficial

change.

Small

hsve cumulstively lsrge


sbout politicsl not

effects.

Aristotle
snd

concentrates on whst we can rather

know generally

sctivity because

organization

than making
on

specific

recommendstions

only be

"ought"

csuse the
what we can

depends

the particular circumstances but also

know far

exceeds what we can

do.
matters of

Even though it is difficult to find the truth in these

is

easier

than to

persuade

those with the power to act

equality and justice, it for their own advantage to

act

justly.

(I3i8bi

5)

Aristotle
most

addresses

the Politics

simply

stated,

is, obey

your own and

primarily to potential laws. Political faith in the

rulers,

and

his advice, depends


of

association

on

friendship,
ernors

trust

in the character,

good

intentions

the gov

(i295b24-28). Such trust


will sccept

The

people

slone.

They
The

will even most

can grow only on the bssis of experience. sny government, Aristotle thinks, thst lesves them serve in the army to defend it, if they are paid (1297b

1-15).

important factor in maintaining any government, therefore, is

that the
tion.

rulers

Any

obey their own laws; they must want to preserve the constitu infraction of the law must be immediately and seriously punished.
most

Aristotle differs

from both

modern

political

philosophers

and

con

temporary

politicsl scientists

in his insistence thst justice is prscticslly It is importsnt


"values,"

snd ef

fectively
people

crucisl

in

politics.

not

only to tske sccount of whst determine


and

believe is

right or

their

but

also to

to do

what

is beneficial (although

not

society in
rule,
ss a

order

to maintain
of

necessarily equally beneficial) for all members of a a regime. The fact that all ruling groups claim to for
the
common

mstter

right,

good, is

not

merely

kind

of

"white-washing"

or propaganda.

It

reflects

the

fundamental
benefit

truth about politics.

Human beings

associate

only for their

common

or

pleasure,
of

and

all

these associations reflect their powers of reason.


ciations structure effects of stsnd s

The rationality

these asso

is simply

not complete or uniform. will

Few

men will understand

how to

institutions; fewer

be farsighted

enough to predict the

long-term
or
under-

laws (1308333-35). Although

most men sre unsble to

live

fully
are

satisfying life, they


so

understsnd quite well when their

lives

or

live

lihoods

threatened and take messures to resist.

Politicsl

associations will

last, therefore, only


though the

benefits

will

long as they benefit most of the inhabitants, even largely be rather low and concrete personal safety and
it is in the interest
powers so
of most of rulers men

the right to own a bit of property.

Although Aristotle
does
not

srgues that

to be

just, he
self-

express

much

fsith in the

to exercise

control.

The

acquisitive

desire is too strong,


and

strong thst in his "best

regim

Aristotle

would

unnaturally

unjustly

enslave some to perform the tssks of

Aristotle

on the

Limits

and

Satisfactions of Political Life

205

the mechanics rather than give the contributions of necessary goods public rec
ognition

by

making

srtissns citizens.

Short

of

the best regime, Aristotle ob

serves,

rulers

tend to use their power to smsss s

fortune

snd so undermine

the

end of politicsl sssocistion essential

itself

ss well as the particular regime.


not preach

In arguing the
"virtue."

any selfless On the contrary, his Politics differs from Plato's Republic primarily because
Aristotle
puts self-interest

importance

of

justice, Aristotle does


first
snd

own makes an

inexpressible difference. Love


ought"

foremost. "To feel that something is one's of oneself is surely natural. Self

ishness is

justly blamed,

of oneself more

but this is really not so much love of oneself as love than one (I263a4i-i263b5). Beginning with man's
not

self-love, Aristotle shows

but

also

why
same

most men are not

only why justice is in the interest just most of the time.

of the rulers

The
rise

desire,

the

desire
As

to politics and the need for

not only to live but to live well, that gives justice also limits both. The limits are, in the

first

instance,

economic.

we

have seen, the


structure,

propagstion snd nurture of

fu

ture generations requires the


requires

fsmily

snd the msintensnce of the

fsmily

the somewhst unjust subordinstion of women. Fsmilies sre necesssry,

psrticulsrly to educste the young. So long ss there sre differences smong fsmilies snd there will be differences so long ss there is s division of lsbor
the division or sllocstion of tasks smong sdults,
correspond visible or

including

governing,

will not

perfectly to differences
snd

in

natural potentisl.

Potentisl

per se

is

not

identifisble,

its

sctuslizstion

is fostered

or restricted

by fsmily

circumstsnce.

Aristotle thus

shows

in psssing thst

equsl

modern,
realized.

liberal form is something of a myth which can Unlike Plato, Aristotle does not propose any "noble
need not

opportunity in the never be perfectly


lies."

Aristotle

admits that women

be confined, that it is
or vocations

not

even

appropriate, in
recognized

democracies

and that

all

contributions

tend to

be

in

such regimes through universal suffrage.

But he

suggests

that no one will

lead

truly satisfying life in

such a

regime, no one perhaps but the entirely private

philosopher, because the acquisitive

desire is freed,

and there

is

no

wsy

of

satisfying thst desire for


Economic desires
conflict produces s need own

mere

life
to

or more goods on snd

its

own terms.

give rise

competition

conflict, moreover, snd this


slwsys set

for

government.

If humsn beings

for their

good,

sll governments will not

be

psrtisl

to the interests of the ruling group,


reason

however,
benefit
consent. of

snd those

in

office

will

have

to object. No regime will

all those under

its

control equally, and no regime will rest on universal

Force

will

slwsys

be necesssry
Aristotle

to msintsin order.

And,

ss

s mstter

fsct in

contrast to right,

observes

thst

politicsl

power

tends to
who

devolve

upon those who possess arms

(1297b 16-20). Even the legislator

understsnds

thst

it is in his

own

interest to be just, to benefit his fellow The

citi

zens will

(actually
of

subjects)

rather

than to seek to enrich himself at their expense,


all

find that he is

unable

to benefit them
and

completely

or equally.

neces

sity

providing the

basics, food

defense,

mandates

division

of

labor

206
which

Interpretation
makes

it impossible for

sll

to psrticipate in

political

deliberations

snd

so to

develop

their natural potential to the to live under laws

fullest

extent possible.

Most human

beings

will continue

they do
be
an

not make or understand.


rule

Unlike Plato,

whose philosophers

must

be forced to

(Republic 579c),

Aristotle

suggests

that politics may also


own

inherently

is

so st

Aristotle's

level, however, in

thought or

satisfying activity. It deliberation rather than in

effect. certain

In showing the limits of political action, Aristotle thus also teaches a kind of self-restraint. If his resders do not become Utopians or radical

reformers,

they

also

surely do

not

become

nihilists and

despair

of

humanity.

Temporal Royalties
in The Tempest
Timothy Fuller
The Colorado College

and

Virtue's

Airy

Voice

The Tempest begins in in


s storm

tempest which
of

but in the

midst

time.

is to ssy that it begins not only One msy thus be reminded that the
ship are chsr But these are

tempest is both without,


past and

imposed
The

by

the storm, snd the remembrance of things

hoped for

within.

passengers on the storm-tossed


of storm

scters constituted out of


not

the circumstances

and time.

ordinary
are

passengers.

master, the

boatswain,
within

the

They
the

all, in greater

Rather, they are, in order of appearance, the ship's King of Naples, and the apparent Duke of Milan. or lesser degree, "authorities", yet they are all en
itself. Both Alonso is. However,
that respect,
sppesr

compassed

the unsought commsnd of the storm

king

snd

Antonio the duke


wish

first

with

question, "Where is the

msster?"

Literally, they
ss

to know where the ship's msster

the play

will

show, the

master

is the

storm

and

hence, in
thst a

the master

is

evident snd
who

everywhere; but beyond this the

msster of

the storm

is Prospero,

is

not evident.

It is

worth reflection

king

snd a

duke

ask where the master circumstances

is

neither of

these masters

is the

master

here. In these

mastery is

ambiguous.

Next in
patience

order

of appearance
who

is the

old

councillor

Gonzalo,

who

advises

to the

boatswain,

duke. Gonzalo tries to

remind

is angry at the interference of the king and him of who they are. This reminder is inef
usurped

fective because their authority is The boatswain says to Gonzalo,


"If
you can command

by

the storm and the ship's master.

these elements to silence and work the peace of the present,


authority"

we will not

hand

a rope

more; use
no

your

(i.i. 20-22).

'

But Gonzalo

by

him"

authority here. On the other hand, he is heartened the apparent authority of the boatswain who "hath no drowning msrk upon (i.i. 27). The bostswain is contemptuous of the howling of the passengers
also

has

who of

are

"louder than the

westher or our

(i.i. 35). But the

recognition

the boatswain's authority

is

then undercut
who curses

by

the appearance

of

Sebastisn,
.

the brother of the

King

of

Nsples,

the boatswain to a

faretheewell
nor

Sebastian is
This

the first

character

to appear who
the

is

neither

an

authority

paper was prepared

for

delivery
are

at

annual

meeting

of

The Midwest Political Science

Association, Cincinnati, Ohio, April


1

16-18, 1981.

All

citations

from The Tempest

from The Pelican Shakespeare

edition edited

by Northrop
also

Frye,

1970.

The New Arden Edition,

edited

by

Frank Kermode (London, 1966), has

been

consulted.

208

Interpretation
But this
seems

respecter of authority.

to

incite Antonio the duke to

curse

the
not

boatswain

ss

necessarily a As the storm


the

(i.i. 41-42), suggesting thst this apparent authority is respecter of authority even though he holds it.
well worsens and

the need to abandon ship becomes

inevitable
the
thresh-

King
of

and

the Prince pray but Sebastian and Antonio continue to complain

snd curse.

The

king

snd prince
snd

hsve

some conventionsl
not. a

piety

st

hold

desth but Sebsstisn


the ship breaks
own counsel

Antonio do

Rsther, they
certain
done"

sbsndon

the

king
sbout

ss

apart.

Gonzalo

affects

degree

of patience

in ssying "the wills sbove be (i.i. 62). One msy summsrize the first scene of the plsy by ssying thst it dramatizes the uncertainty of authority in the face of the elements. This reminds us of
our

his

temporality
hsbitusl
and snd

or

mortality, and that better

and worse responses can

be

made

to this drama of uncertain authority. The ship's master and bostswsin respond
with

skill to their

fsmilisr

adversity;

Gonzslo

responds with

resignation;

the

King
fear

the Prince

with conventional

pieties; and Sebastian and Antonio

with

self-preserving instinct.
opens with s

The

second scene provides

tuousness.

It

tranquility sntitheticsl to the first scene's tempesspeech of Mirsnds, the wondering one, who begins,
father"

"If

by

your

srt, my dearest

(i.ii.i). The tranquility is


or

presented

not

only in

wonder, philosophically, for philosophy appears in the first scene only tangentially in Gonzalo's resignation, but also in the unsmbiguous relstion of suthority between fsther snd child, snd in the
a rhetoric of reflection and

sense of commsnd

thst is implied

by

reference

to Prospero's
speech:

"srt"

But Mirsnds

also exhibits two other characteristics

in her first

the first is the capacity

for suffering empathetically with the insistence that if she were a "god of
to preserve rather than to
pates

victims of the

storm; the second is her

she would

have
of

used

her

power antici

destroy

the ship. The

daughter

Prospero

the conclusion to

which

Prospero himself
which

will come

at the end of the

play, except that the literal sense in

she seems to speak will

be trans

formed in Prospero's finsl


preserves rather than

reslizstion when

he

ss

the precise "god

power

of

destroys
in her

by

an act of

is his.
sn

By snticipsting

speech

renouncing the very power which Prospero's lster sction. Mirsnds transforms
3

sbstrsct

proposition renunciation

sbout
will

life into

self-ensctment

in the

midst of

life.
use

Prospero's
power

be the reslity behind Mirsnds's desire to

justly.
of

Prospero, in telling Miranda the full for the first time, begins by asking her to "Lend thy hsnd / And pluck my msgic gsrment from me. So, / Lie there my (i.ii. 23-25). This is the first occssion for Prospero to renounce his msgic
background
of

A further indicstion

this is thst

their situation

srt"

srt.

Underlying

the spectscle which csuses


not

Mirsnds's

amszement

is

history
Pros
loss

of events

events

at sll

msgical.

Prospero's

commsnd to

"be
sside of

(i.ii. 13) is fulfilled through Prospero's recollection. The


pero's gsrment of magical

lsying

authority is

connected to

his

revelation of the

Temporal Royalties
of

Virtue'

and

Airy

Voice in The Tempest

209
also

his authority in Milan. The setting aside of the magic garment is setting sside of the childhood illusion sbout the authoritstive psrent.
Mirands
professes

the

to remember "rather like s dream thsn sn

sssur

something of her esrliest childhood in Milsn. And, ss the story begins to be unfolded Mirsnda wonders whether their coming to the islsnd wss s curse or
s

blessing

(i.ii. 60-62). To this Prospero


also s

"both"

snswers
were

Literally

it is

a curse

to

be exiled, but

blessing

thst

they

sble

to survive.

But it

is,

more

importantly,
in

the occasion for reflection on the proper order of things.

Thus,

the tempest produced in scene i is paralleled


scene

by

the calmer tempest


as

of recollection confrontation of

ii,

which

Prospero

produces

in Miranda is

her first
swsre

with

the ambiguities thst

wonder

produces.
sspect

Mirsnds is
csused

this insofsr as she sees thst Prospero's troubled


of

by

her
a

"remembrance"

her early

childhood

(i.ii. 64-65). Remembrance is thus

But, ultimately, remembering is necessary if one is to blessing the have understanding thst is the msrk of humsn wisdom on humsn things.
and a curse.

For,

while

it is true thst Antonio's


i'
th'

exercise of

the

power

Prospero his

entrusted

to him "set sll hesrts

state

/ To

ear,"

what

tune

pleased

it is

also

true that Prospero was the true source of this sad state of affairs. The tempest
produced

in Miranda is

a reflection

of

the tempest

within

Prospero himself.
constituted

Prospero's
out of

recollections excite

Mirsnds's. The tempestuousness is


sscent

Prospero's inner intellectusl

following
which

his

sctusl political

descent

from first duke in


the "outward
a

Italy
of

to exile,

in juxtaposition to Antonio's is
a political

assumption of

face

royalty"

(i.ii. 104),

ascent to

being

"god

power"

of

but

descent in the

sense of a revelstion of

the corruption

of

his

soul

in

endless smbition.

Prospero

now

sees thst
could

Antonio,
be
of

unlike

Prospero,

csnnot comprehend

the

thought thst s

library

s sufficient

dukedom. Thus, Antonio


royslties".

concludes

thst Prospero is incspsble


the cspscity to
exercise

exercising "temporal
the

For Antonio,

temporal royalties seems to


made

be

exhibited

return

growing for tribute, the Miranda from Milan.

ambition.

He thus

pact

with

King

of

in endlessly Naples that, in

King would support his extirpation of Prospero and Fearing an outcry from the people of Milan, however,
and

the

conspirators

set

Prospero

Miranda

adrift
th'

in the
sea"

sea

rather

than kill

them outright,

and so

they

were

left "To cry to


on

(i.ii.

149).

Their

eventual

ssfe srrivsl on
who

this enchsnted isle wss

msde possible

by

the

generosity

of

Gonzslo,
This

hsd pity

them, providing them charity is the

with sustensnce

both

edible

snd

intellectual. Prospero

calls this an

act of providence, second

and sn

set of chsrity.

remembrance of providentisl

instance,

following
thst will

Miranda's innocent

charitsble

instinct,
of a

thst reinforces the mercifulness things psst.

eventuste

from Prospero's
msrks

recollections of

This What

moment

slso

the

occssion

new

beginning for
his

Prospero.

wss

recollected

ss

prior

misfortune

is

sbout

to turn to

sdvsntsge. enemies

Fortune is

now

"bountiful",

now

his dear lady, for

she

has brought his

210

Interpretation
from
power

to the shore where he currently exercises his authority. The descent

into humiliation is the

premise of the plays

beginning
ascent.

but the

action of

the

play

proper

is, virtually from


the
sequel

the outset, an

This

structural

feature
an

supports portant

the oft-made remark

among

the critics that this play


and

is, in

im

sense,
not

to

King Lear;

that the theme of ascent and

only to be found repestedly within the plsys but runs through the Shskespesresn corpus generally. (See, for exsmple, D. G. Jsmes in The

descent is

Dream of Prospero.) Prospero hss been presented with sn "suspicious whose influence he must court if his fortunes sre not forever sfter "to (i.ii.
178-184). snd

stsr"

droop"

But if Prospero's fortunes


ss

sre

not

drooping, Mirsnds's
Ariel
mskes

eye

lids sre,
Ariel

she perforce retires

Prospero's

servsnt

his first

appesrsnce.

reports

thst he
as

hss

carried

out

in

precise

detail the raising

of the alone

storm on the
on

ship the isle, dispersed the


snd put

directed

by

Prospero. He has deposited Ferdinand


snchored

others

sbout,

the ship in s ssfe snd obscure

hsrbor,
plsn

the crew to

must

be

csrried out

sleep below deck. The remsinder of Prospero's between 2 p.m. snd 6 p.m. The moment of fortune

already

referred action

to

is

reinforced

by

the compression of time in


as noted

which all

the

remaining
equivslent

is to be undertaken, which,

by

scholsrs, is roughly

to the time

it tskes to

In the
Prospero
who

conversation
wss

plsy itself. between Prospero and Ariel it turns


perform the
on

out thst the exile sn evil

preceded

the isle

by

the exile

Sycorax,

msgicisn,

is

contrasted

to the exiled good msgician. Ariel

has been transferred from

or from serving evil to serving good. If serving black magic to white magic Sycorax had the power to imprison Ariel, Prospero had the power to release him. The release wss predicated on service, for a time, to Prospero. Ariel

in working off this indebtedness. And, although the action of the run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the freedom of Ariel is to come after is to play two days (i.ii. 229), presumably to give him time to guide all back to Milan. During the dozen years when Ariel was incarcerated in a pine tree he
engaged

is

howled

and

screamed

in

such

way

as

to create a tempest of his own on


not

the isle. Sycorax caused this condition but did


the torment that resulted. What remains
of the
sea and

have the

power

to amend
a nymph

is for Ariel to become like


and

to be

invisible to

all

but himself

Prospero. He initiates
wake

his
thus

invisibility by
clear

exiting,

whereupon

Miranda is bidden to be
given sight of

up.

It is

that

Miranda is

not at

this point to

Ariel.

She is, however,


she

against

her wishes, to be

given sight of

Caliban,

whom
"esrth"

detests

as a villain.

Caliban is Prospero's himself


as

slave and
of

is

addressed as

(i.ii. 314). Cslibsn

presents

the ruler

the

isle

by

right as the off

Sycorax. Thus, for Caliban, Prospero is the usurper who, as we know, has arrived here because of being usurped. But Caliban had attempted the overthrow of Prospero by raping Miranda in the hope of populating the islsnd with Cslibans. This stirs Mirands to curse Cslibsn. Unable to be im printed with goodness, Caliban wants to imprint goodness with himself, to
spring
of

Temporal Royalties
subdue

and

Virtue's

Airy

Voice in The Tempest

21 1
to be
self

it to his how to

power. speak

To be imprinted
to

with goodness

is, for Miranda,

taught

snd, thus,

be

sble

to pursue one's purposes

consciously.

But it

would appesr

thst the purposes of Cslibsn when brought

to self-swsreness
result of

sre

language is

unsavory to ssy the least. Caliban's view is that the knowing how to curse. This might be expected from the
we

offspring of Sycorax. It would appear that


to the
noble

have here

a confrontation

between two first


revealed
as

responses

human in the

condition.

One, in Miranda, has been

seeing the

world

and

being

revolted

by

the ignoble. The fsct that, in her

innocence,
not alter

she

may

not always

the point about

accurately distinguish one from the other does her disposition. The other response, in Caliban, consists
who

in the

heightening
was
whst

of self-assertion as the consequence of self-awareness.

Whether it Cslibsn
most

Prospero

taught Caliban speech,


matter

or

Miranda

who taught

Prospero taught her (the


sense

is disputed
are

by

scholars), in the
of

important

both Miranda

and

Caliban

the results

Prospero's

has the capacity to unlock both orderliness and disorderliness in these two but, cases, has remained in control of both. On the isle Prospero's rule is both just and competent.
tutelage. Prospero

The

scene now shifts

to

Ferdinand,
allayed

accompanied

by

the invisible but audible


supposed

Ariel. The tempest in Ferdinand's soul,


of

a consequence of the
music.

loss

his father the king, is


service of

by
god

Ariel's
of

Ferdinand intuits that the it. It is

song is in the
waters and

some

the island. The sweet air calms the

also

his

spiritusl sbove

frenzy,

snd

he is led

on

by
on

no

esrth-

bound
Just

sound snd

it is

him.
on

as

Ferdinand is led
raise

by

a spirit,
on

so

Miranda,

Prospero to
a
spirit

her

eyes to

look

Ferdinand, is

taken

being directed by by what she thinks


divine thing and and brought

Ferdinsnd himself. To Mirsnda, Ferdinand is

noble.

It is

likely

that Prospero kept Ariel invisible to Miranda

her

directly

to gaze upon Caliban in order to educate her gazing upon Ferdinand.


orchestrates

Thus, Prospero
encounter with

the

first

encounter of

Mirands

snd

Ferdinsnd. Esch
esse

is returning from
sea snd

sn

encounter

with

the

distssteful:

in Mirsnds's

the

Cslibsn; in Ferdinand's

case the encounter with a storm-tossed


sees

the

grief of

losing

his fsther. Ferdinand


source of

Mirands

ss

divine

snd

s goddess

he

supposes

her the
and

the sweet airs

he has been hearing.


the divine
on within

The

proper

union

of male

female is the
as

encounter of

the human and this is not


either/

presented

a mistsken

perception

the p3rt of

It is the
results

conclusion

to

which

Prospero directs them both.


problem of

Whst
2.

is

complex

insight into the


ask

ruling

3nd
about

being
this en
their

Upon

reflection,
answer

readers

may

themselves.

What is there really divine

counter?

The
as

is

that Ferdinand and Miranda respond to each other

by interpreting

meeting play is intellectualized


the
neoplatonic

the encountering of divinity.


and
ritualized

Moreover,

their response to each other throughout the

attitude

that the divine


of

reveal

unplumbed

depths

chess) in a manner unmistakably reminiscent of is intimated in those striking human interactions which experience, drawing thought beyond all ordinary objects of con

(they play

sideration

into the

mysteries of conscious

life.

212
ruled.

Interpretation
met s goddess of

Ferdinsnd, thinking he hss


conduct

the

islsnd,

3sks

if

she csn

direct his

there,

snd

if

she

is

s maid.

She

surprises

him

by speaking
spp3rently or thst he
spirit

his langusge. This

reminds

Ferdinsnd that,

as

his f3ther is

now

desd, he is
would

the

le3ding
were

spesker of

thst lsngusge ss the new

king,

be if he

st

home in Nsples (i.ii.422ff.). Thus, divine


or roysl person

hss

recognized rules

divine spirit,
snd

hss

encountered royal person. still rules

Prospero

Mirands
potentisl

the

King
of

of

Nsples

Ferdinsnd;
they
must

nonetheless,
constitute

their

msrks

them

for

each

other,
and

and

together

the

key

to the

reconciliation

Milan

Nsples thst

tske plsce

lster.

st this point understsndsbly thinks of Milsn ss subordinate to Naples because he thinks Alonso has ruled Antonio. But of course Prospero rules

Ferdinsnd

them all on this

isle. He

will

be

able

to transfer this rule to

Miranda

and

Ferdinand,
now

thus achieving what, for example, Lear could not intention has succeeded, for Ferdinand and Miranda "have

achieve.

Prospero's
eyes"

changed and as

and

Ferdinand has

ceased

thinking
be

of

Miranda
of

as

goddess

begun to
is
not

think her a virgin eligible to

queen

Naples.3

But just
so

she

ready to be relessed from the tutelsge free of due submission to the old king.

of

Prospero,
s

Ferdinsnd is

not yet

Wishing
of

to

keep

mstters complicsted

for

arriving

with

trescherous

intent to

time, Prospero sccuses Ferdinsnd usurp Prospero's position. Prospero's

threst to imprison Ferdinand draws


overcome

by

Prospero's hypnotic

charm.

manly resistance which is immediately As with the Duke in Measure for


evi

Measure Prospero is exemplary of the union of power and justice as is denced by his use of power here to unite those who should be together. The first
scene of the second act
of

begins

with

Gonzalo's

speech of conso

for human beings every day it is "our theme of (u.i.6) as human. But few live through impending mortality to enjoy merriment once more. One ought to weigh sorrow against comfort.
present
woe"

lation: the threshold

death is

Alonso turns this


of

consolation

aside, undoubtedly considering the apparent loss

his son,
so

and

Antonio

and

Sebastian

make

fun

of

Gonzalo. Just

as

they

showed

themselves to no advsntsge
now

desth,

they

seem,

hsving

in the opening scene's confrontstion with escsped, to hsve forgotten the ordinsry
enough

mortslity

of

life

which

Gonzalo wisely

has

not

forgotten. Gonzalo
condition

thus remembers, parallel to

Prospero,

and

in remembering the human

is

ensbled to see

opportunity in it

as well as

danger,
are

and,

more

importantly,
opportunities

opportunity of an ennobling sort. It can be said that Sebastian


too.
and

and

Antonio

mindful

of

However,
conspiracy. most

their notion of

Every

opportunity is entirely one of self-assertion occssion of life is the razor edge between life snd
snd

desth
3.

significsntly between the life

desth

of

whstever

potentisl

in

single

One may note here the coalescence of the divine, the political-legal, and the passionate dramatic moment. A comparison of the method by which this is brought about in
other

Measure for Measure, among

plays, would be pertinent.

Temporal Royalties

and

Virtue's

Airy Voice

in The Tempest

213

for nobility there msy be in the soul of an individual. How such occasions sre used will determine whst sssessment is to be msde of the chsrscter enscted
and so revealed.

Every

set is

s self-disclosure.

But

whst

is disclosed is

not

only
of

sn sssessment of whst sction

is

required.

An

sction

is

slso s consequence

the

the

understsnding thst informs the drsmstic identity of s


offered
stoic spirit

attempt st self-ensctment which constitutes

chsrscter.4

is entertsined, that's

/ Comes to
ridiculed reveals

As Gonzslo ssys, "When every (n.i. 16-17).


th'
entertsiner"

grief

Gonzslo 's
"dollar"

is

by Sebsstisn

snd

Antonio. The play

on

"dolor"

and as
not

(n.i.19)
So
slso

the preoccupation of Sebsstisn as

well

Gonzalo's

stubborn persistsnee

to be bothered.

in trying to console Alonso, who prefers Adrisn's sttempt to see s delicste climste or

temperance on the isle


perfumed

is

ridiculed ss the sweet smell of the

fen. Whst's

green

to

Gonzslo is tswny
might

to Antonio.
ses-

rotting lung or Gonzslo sees


He

them snd their garments as refreshed and glossy, not


refuses

water stained.

to entertain the grief that

be

expected

in their

situation.

By

contrast,
marriage

Sebastian,
of

he turns to Alonso, chides him for insisting on the his daughter in Tunis against their advice and thus setting in
when

train a series of events which

led to their

wreck and result which

the loss

of

Ferdinand.
actions and

Alonso 's
parallels

fate, looked

at

in this way, is the


a

of

his

own

Prospero's. There is

way, then, in

Sebastian has

a clearer

perception thsn

Gonzslo,

who wishes

to console, to look on the bright side.

Gonzslo is decent but


But

sbstrsct.

He

speculstes thst
close

here is

a place

for

a new

commonwealth as a natural as

anarchy,
point

to nature and

without sovereignty.

Sebastian

and

Antonio

out, this

order without a sovereign would

be founded
wealth

by

an

act of sovereignty.
beginning"

Thus, "the latter

end of

his

common

forgets the

(11. i.

154).

Among
of

other

things, this means that


of

innocence in this
extended

commonwealth would require given

innocence is
a

its

origins. of a

The
pre-

description

by

Gonzalo

his

vision

quite

clearly

4.

Michael Oakeshott is invoked here because he


of

expresses

view

of conduct

like that
qualified
when

Shakespeare's: "This
not

unresolved

and

inconclusive

character of as

human

remarkably conduct is

(and

they

are understood

merely concealed) when actions are in terms of the sentiments in

recognized which

self-enactments; that

is,
at

they

are performed.

There is

least the
to-vanish

echo of an

imperishable

achievement and

when

the valour of the agent and not the


not

soon-

victory,

when

his

loyalty
is it

fortitude

and

the evanescent

defeat,
full

are

the con
or other

siderations.

But

nowhere

more than a

distant

echo.

Self-enactment (virtuous
not a generic

wise) is itself
identity."

an episodic and an

inconclusive engagement, is itself


a

as ondoyant and as

of unresolved a

tensions as any other

the enacted self

fugitive;

unity but

dramatic

Michael Oakeshott, On Human Conduct (Oxford, 1975). P- 84. Self-enactment has to do with "an agent's sentiment in choosing and performing the actions of an action is the action itself considered in terms the he chooses and performs
'motive'

of the

sentiment

or sentiments
procure

in

which

it is in

chosen

and

performed

choosing
an agent

an

action as

is he

always

meaning to

satisfaction

a motive of some sort

thinking
of

to think and enacting or re-enacting himself as he wishes to be chooses to think is related to his understanding and respect for himself, to the
chooses

what the agent

integrity

his

character,

and not at all an

to his understanding of a contingent situation to which

he

must respond

action."

by

choosing

Op.

cit., pp. 70-74.

214

Interpretation
psrsdise where there would
sbundsnce"

fallen

be

neither

lsbor

nor struggle

but "sll

(ii.i.159). But this

vision

which

nor mortslity Gonzslo intends as a

further
world

consolation

to Alonso is to

Alonso

"nothing"

(11. i. 166). This dream

commonwealth

is known
can

by

speculative

dream. It

be

understood

Gonzalo to be nothing, that is, it is a in parallel to Prospero's dream-world

commonwealth which
psrsllel

he eventually dissolves as a nothing, and perhaps slso in to Cslibsn's sim to people the islsnd with Cslibsns. Whst is envisioned is revelstory
of

by
of

esch

the

chsrscter snd motives of esch.

Ariel

sppesrs snd puts

Gonzslo is

snd

Alonso to

sleep.

This lesves the field


in

imsginstion to Antonio,

who sees

s crown on

Sebsstisn's hesd. Sebsstisn


sees thst

csnnot

tell whether Antonio

swske or

dresming. He

they

sre

dre3ming

state while awske.

Antonio,

on the other

hsnd,

3ccuses

Sebsstisn
while

of not

exercising his imsginstion snd thus sllowing his fortunes to die he lives, or slumber while he wskes (11. i. 2 10). One
might conclude

st

this point thst every character

in the play is the


lsrger dresm
of

embodiment of

his dream

within

the larger dresm of life. Idyllic 3nd Mschisvelcommon context of the

lisn dresms life its


this

3re presented

here in the

which overrides m3nifeststion

them all. Esch character makes s world

for itself

where

of

itself

would

be

ssfe or sppropriste.

Sebastian

recognizes 3wske

by

retorting that Antonio's

speech to

him is

snoring.

Who then is

snd who ssleep?

But this turns into


crease

distinction between Antonio's smbition, which is to in Sebastian's stature threefold to be the teacher of ambition and Sebas
s

tian's

confession of

laziness. Sebastian's
encourages
a

natural

tendency is

to ebb

(ll.i.216will

17), but his ebbing

Antonio's

ambitiousness.

Antonio

teach

in which, so to speak, way he taught Prospero about ambition by overthrowing him. The man of ambition looks for opportunities to realize ambition. For now, Antonio can realize his
ambition reminiscent of the manner
ambition

Sebastian

in

through Sebastian. This moment of grief


a new

for Alonso

and resignation and

for Gonzslo is
of

beginning

for Antonio. With Ferdinand

Claribel

out

the wsy, Antonio wishes thst he were Sebsstian (11. i. 260-61 ).

But

as

threw Prospero. This should

Sebastian takes Antonio's meaning he remembers that Antonio over be a source of discomfort to Sebastian. However,

Antonio

uses

it

as s mesns to persusde

Sebsstisn: "True. / And look how


men"

well

my gsrments sit upon me, / Much fester thsn before. My brother's servsnts / Were then my fellows; now they sre my (11. i. 266-68). Antonio thinks
the man this is his dream whereas the play seems to be saying that power shows the man for what he is. One notes also that, whereas in Gonzalo's dream there would be a natural anarchy, or a spontaneous equality of men and women, Antonio's dream is of tyranny and distinction in his favor. His dream is consistent with his sction. This disturbing turn of events prompts that
power makes

Sebsstisn to feel
not

remind

Antonio

of

his

"conscience"

Antonio

confesses thst

this

deity

in my

bosom"

(11. i. 271-72). Not only is Antonio

sn stheist

Temporal Royalties
with

Virtue'

and

Airv Voice in The Tempest


but he has
no

215

respect to the clsims


your

of conscience

kindred
earth

or

brotherly
upon"

feeling: "Here lies


Machiavellisn

brother,
contempt seems

/ No better than the


and

he lies

(ii. i. 274-75). Antonio's


chsracter.

ambition are a

full

realization

of

his

He in

to be what he is because he hss sn enormous


or to

capacity to forget his


short,
see

own

mortality
sll

be
not

unimpressed

by

it. He can, in
psrsllel

the mortality

others

but

in himself. He is

to

Cslibsn in wishing to populate the world only with his own image, but becsuse, unlike Cslibsn, he has the sttributes of full humanity, he is a lower character

Caliban because he hss the cspscity to dissemble in order to exploit the reslity of the humsn condition. If Alonso is no better thsn the earth he lies
than

upon, which, in one sense, is certainly true of human

beings,

then

for Antonio in

it is

slso

true thst Prospero is no

more

slive

thsn the books he studied


power

seclusion.

Cslibsn

at

least

recognizes

that there

is

in books

(m.ii.89 90).
self-

The

earth of which sll of

humsnity
which

is

constituted

is

made

human in the

enactment

the dreams
of

imprint the
matter will

earthiness
make

with

form. Who

con a as

trols

the

teaching
who

form to

difference. Sebastian,
(11. i. 2 16), that is
of smbition.

slothful

fellow
will

describes himself
with

as

"standing

matter,

be imprinted here
to Antonio's plans

Antonio's form

His

quick

submission

is

explained

by

the fact that the submissive,

passive
vision

of another. The watery Sebsstisn is properly slothful snd phlegmatic. Thus Antonio's case becomes his precedent (n. i. 284). Alonso's sleep shall be like Prospero's study. Neither study nor

type, low in ambition, is easily of self-enactment, he can live on that

persuaded.

Having

little imaginative

grief can

be

comprehended

by

the ambitious or the slothful. The alliance of

ambition and sloth

is

a powerful source of wickedness

in the ordering

of

humsn

sffairs.

Now Ariel intervenes to


extended

rouse

Gonzalo
and

and

thus return the

favor Gonzalo

to

Prospero,
real

and

Gonzalo

Ferdinand. The

second scene of

Alonso, being saved, set off to search for Act II plays Cslibsn, Trinculo and Stephano.
and

Caliban's first

look

at

Stephano

Trinculo (11.ii.114)
to Miranda's

convinces
at

him that

things"

they they

are

"fine

This is

parallel

first look

Ferdinand

and offers the proper comparison of noble to sre

bsse innocence. Cslibsn thinks


"gods"

from the
prefers

moon

snd

he

will

conduct

these

on

a tour of

the

island. He
selves shows

their drink to Prospero's servitude.


now plan

They, believing

them

the only survivors,

to inherit this island kingdom.

Caliban

in wishing to submit himself to yet s new msster. In the mesntime, Act III, scene i, opens with the enslsved Ferdinsnd, whose burdens sre nothing when redeemed by the thought thst he is serving

his

slavish nature

Mirands. She
Ferdinand
met.

revesls

her
she

name

to

him,
all

against

her father's command,


such and a one

and

opines

that

is flswless
outstrips

and

the

first

that

he has

She thinks his form

imagination

ssys

so, thus sgsin

depsrting

from her father's

commands

to honor discretion. He reveals


3 prince.

that,

though s log-msn now,

in 3Ctuslity he is

216

Interpretation
a series of professions

There follows
the other. Love

in

which esch seeks

to

be the

servsnt of

Antonio

and

induces self-tempering and marks the contrast to the ambitious slothful Sebasti3n who sre incspable of love or self-restraint.
(m.i.89).5

Love is the bondage that is free

We

are

immediately

reminded

of

the bondage that

is

not

free

by

the re

appearance of

Caliban, Stephano
Stephano to

and

Trinculo

at

the

outset of

Act III,

scene
can

ii.

Caliban
and

entreats

overthrow

Prospero
with

so

that Stephano

rule

favor Caliban. Freedom here is


we

equated

self-assertion

once

more. ss

Again

have

presented what might

be

called

the tyrsnnicsl

imsginstion

opposed to the noble imsgination suffused

constantly
appear

being

upset

by

the presence of

But the conspiracy is by Ariel's airy voice, which makes it


charity.

that Caliban

spirators sgsinst

is simultsneously sttscking Trinculo, thus setting the con esch other. Ariel spesks in Trinculo's voice snd thus csuses

Stephsno to drive Trinculo further away from him. Cslibsn then proposes thst they murder Prospero in his sleep, so thst Stephsno will be sble to rule,
to possess Mirsnds snd to create offspring
schieve

for the islsnd. Thus Cslibsn


as

will

his

own sspirstion vicsriously.

Csliban is to Stephano

Antonio is

to Sebastian.

But Ariel is

intervening

counsels cslmness

again and playing tunes which csuse fright. Cslibsn because the isle is "full of noises, / Sounds and sweet sirs
not"

thst give delight and hurt


and

(m.ii.130). These
spurs

sounds orchestrate

Caliban's
How

sleeping waking ever, Caliban reminds him that the

and

his description

Stephano's desire to isle

rule.

condition of

this rule is the destruction of


might

Prospero. But it
with

would appear

that the sweet sound of the

disappear

the

destruction

to suggest

Prospero. There is nothing in the speech of Caliban thst the sweet sound of the isle is not dependent on Prospero snd
of

Ariel
rule.

even

though,

of

course, Csliban dissociates the sound from Prospero's


of riches
of rule.

When Caliban
not

dreams, he dresms
thst the

thst

drop
not

from the clouds,

but he does
surrounded

understsnd

dresm just

riches

is fulfilled in

living
would

by

the sweet
sweet

hsrmonies

of

Thus,
are

surprisingly, he
what

believes thst the


come

riches were

if the

"dreams"

to

he alresdy become

enjoys

inferior to
reign

"realities"

in the

of

Stephano.

Caliban

cannot

learn the deeper lesson

of

dreaming,
a metaphor

and

thus also cannot

appreciate

the rule of the

just,
If this

which

would

be to live

encompassed

in the
art

harmonious imagination.

action

is

for the dramatic

it may also be said that Caliban cannot appreciate the rule of the poetic as what distinguishes the human being from mere esrth. Act III, scene iii, brings us bsck to Alonso 's psrty. The scene opens with both Gonzslo snd Alonso wesry from wsndering in s msze. Alonso tells
as seems

itself,

likely,

then

Gonzslo,
5.

"Sit down

snd rest.

/ Even here I

will

put off

my

hope,

snd

keep

For Antonio,
prevents

self-restraint

inertia that
most

attempting

much.

is only concealed ambition. For Sebastian, there is only the For the former, everything is permissible; for the latter,

things are too

much

trouble.

Temporal Royalties

Virtue'

and

Airy

Voice in The Tempest

217

it / No longer for my flstterer: he is s prefiguring of Prospero's renuncistion


one of

drowned"

(in. iii. 6-8). This is noticesbly

speech

in Act V,

scene

i,

3nd reminds mocks

Prospero's first
sesrch on

renuncistion
tend"

in Act I,

scene

ii. Thst the "ses

Our frustrate
ss

(m. iii. 9-10) indicstes


also

not

only the literal situstion


world of the

it

sppears

to

Alonso, but

indicstes the dresm

islsnd's

relstion mocks

to the

stormy

condition of

the powers of

temporal, humsn existence, whose undulation the human imagination to order the world in its own
attitude of

image. That this is intimated in the


tized

Gonzalo

and

Alonso is

drsms-

by

the contrast
snd

immediately
thst

made with

the attitude

now shsred

between

Antonio

Sebsstisn. dramstic
s contrsst 3
new

Immedistely following
music

hsrmony

snd

sweet

srise,

sccompsnied

by

refreshed

and

inspired,

while

Sebastian

bsnquet. Typicslly, Gonzslo snd Alonso sre and Antonio respond with touristic

The appearing shspes sre, to Alonso, more gentle snd kind than human beings. And, in sn aside, Prospero editorializes that Alonso speaks
amusement.
well

because

some

there

are

worse

thsn

devils. The

gentle

but

monstrous

shspes vanish

but the food remains,

and

Alonso lapses back into his


which contrasts

despairing
Antonio's

thought that "the


past ss

best is

past"

(in. iii. 51),

usefully

with

"prologue"

(u.i.247). One is led to

reflect

very
see

reminiscent

of

the Duke in Measure for

that Prospero, in a manner Measure, has arranged things

so that at

this

moment

in the drama the


and

wicked see

opportunity

where

the decent

only

cause

for despair,

that this
would

arrangement

must

be

emblematic

of a providentisl

ordering thst one

Prospero.

only intimsted in the vsnishing moments of time. If it is true, ss Senecs remsrked, thst the good differ from God only in the element of time, reflection compels
the thought that
our vision of right order

Underlying

the perceived order

nsturslly is snother

associste with the nsme of


order

but it is

one

is

fleeting

and ondoyant while the also connected

divine

would almost

certainly be firm
For it is

and constant.

But this is

to the poetic insight

which underlies

the play

and connects which

the human condition

to Shakespeare's
grest

art.

poetic

constancy in the midst of endless Peterson that "time in the Renaissance cosmology is only the
motion,
a condition rather thsn sn
sgent,"6

discovers something of becoming. One may agree with Douglas


vision

measure

of

snd go on to

ssy

that poetic vision

in responding to the intimations

of

immortality is
comprise

agency

par excellence.

If,

following Hooker,
opportunities

we

were

to

admit

that time "neither


and

causeth
both"

things nor

of

things, be led

although

it

contain

(Ecc. Pol.

11.383),

we would

on

to think that time


which,

is

suffused with

being
note

because

time is the humsn the thought of the


providentisl

experience eternal.

in its fleetingness,

excites also

unsvoidsbly
thst the
end with

On the

other

hand,
thst

we

will

design here is Prospero's


of

snd

it

will

come vision

to sn

the

ending

the

plsy.

The constancy of the poetic


and

is itself,

sfter

6. Douglas L. Peterson, Time Tide

Tempest, A Study of Shakespeare's Romances (San

Marino,

1973). P-

r7-

218
sll,

Interpretation
snd
not

fleeting
sharply

constsncy

unquslified.

To

quote

Peterson sgain, "All


other

temporal things
more

sctively

psrticipste

in the

eternal.

On the

hand,

to be

aware of process

is to be

more

sharply

aware of

its

remorseless-

ness and of

the precariousness and

dependency

of one's existence upon

it."7

This

new precariousness which

in

sn act of contemplstion

denies the possibility of ignoring the temporal intimstes the superiority of poetic vision to philo

seeing further thsn philosophy of but in ss creatures or theology seeing crumbling dust must see: "A breath Thou srt Desth's thou art, / Servile to sll the skyey influences
sophic or

theologicsl vision, superiority not in

fool"

(Measure for Measure,

m.i.8

1 1).

Humsnity

is free

not to

be

not

temporal,
to

but free to known


sfter

choose

in

self-ensctment of s

its visions,

snd

by

such

visions

be
the
of

the

occssions

their initial sppesrsnce have passed,


question of

snd grain

instigstors
of

with

them.

It is

seeing

universe

in

ssnd, seeing substsntislity in the merest momentsry contiguity of goings-on. Time is duration to be endured. Self-ensctment is enduring according to an
agent's
with self-understanding.

Prospero drags his

opponents

into

confrontation

time as duration but in the shelter of the island. The reduction in com
of

plexity
of the
each

life thus

achieved

allows

the

drsmstic

evocstion

of

the timeless

presence

in the

midst of

time. It slso permits the revelstion snd assessment


one character

characters.

What distinguishes
of time.

from is

another

is the
to

use

character

makes

Nobility

of response

connected

seeing

the contingency of the


of

love

and

persistently occasioning the necessity forgiveness. Whst Prospero will finslly schieve is the extension
condition as

human

of the occssions of and

the

right use of all

temporality by
have

the marriage of

Ferdinand
changed

Miranda,

as

almost

commentators

noticed.

What has

from Measure for Measure to The Tempest is that the


the rule of restraint on
Vienna.8

poetic vision of the

has become
law
of

the enchanted

isle instead

resurgent

Such agency is to be
this way is the
mark of

seen as

teasing constancy

out of nothingness,

and

in

the play itself. The plsy msy be understood as an

7.

Op.

cit., pp. 20-21.


reader

may wonder to what extent this is a specifically Christian interpretation of It is true that the virtues of love and forgiveness are specifically associated with Christiantiy. It is also true that there are many occasions of Christian symbolism in Shake speare's play which cannot be dismissed as mere ironies. However, what these usages meant to
the play's action.

8. The

Shakespeare this

author

is

unable

to say with conviction

despite

having

examined

mentaries on this point. and

What is

unmistakable

is the dominance

of poetic vision

many com in The Tempest,

the relation of poetic vision to a profound confrontation with mortality, and reconciliation. At the very

failing, hope,
and

least it

would seem

temporality, contingency, human that Shakespeare explored


on

the connection between wisdom, courage, temperance, and

justice

the one

hand;

and

faith,

charity ideas. It does

and

on

the

other.

He

could not

have done this


could

without

not seem

likely Shakespeare

have

achieved

merely ironic negation of the tradition which rested on the intimation of the eternal in the temporal a tradition which itself
achieve

by

exploring Christian themes the profundity he did, in fact, the Augustinian meditation on
rested
on

an

affinity for

Plato's complementary

account of what

human

experience must

inevitably

involve.

Temporal Royalties
"emblematic
struction of
narrative",9

and

Virtue's

Airy Voice
an

in The Tempest
of

-219

that

is, it is

imitation

action,

or

it is

a recon possible action

humsn

sction not

from the

perspective of the virtue

implicitly

in human from

action

but

above so to speak.
who

normally The high


or

directly
or

seen.

It is seeing human
semiconscious.

characters

are ritualized vis-a-vis the

low

characters

are reslistic

cynical

simply

moment of

time is the eternal moment snd the tssk is to see

Thus every that that is so.

Every
agent

a promise and a peril, for at every moment the human between merely temporal royslties and virtue's siry voice. Prospero's vision is s momentsry unificstion of these themes before time
moment

is thus

is

caught

sweeps sll

before it. But


a

on

the

other

hsnd,
the

the plsy is the remembrance of

a vision

and

sign of

its

repetitive presence glimpse


of

in

all of

moments

of

human
the

en

durance. It is the
which st

fleeting
Antonio

unity
snd

the real

snd

ideal

the outset of the plsy


and

hsd been

hopelessly
hand,

sepsrsted as the

between Milan
on

on the one

the dukedom

discrepancy of the library


of

the other.

In this

reflective moment

in the

midst of

time

none of

the reslities

the

humsn
can

condition

is denied, but for


a

whst

is

ssserted
what

be the

occasion

deeper

vision

positively is thst any moment is to be seen never alters but


self-ensctment of agents.

it

must

be transmitted through the

visible and

transitory

At any rate, Ariel returns now to make the banquet vanish, and he reveals himself as the minister of Fate demanding of Alonso, Sebsstisn snd Antonio
repentance of thunder.
power:

and

from this

point on

an

innocent life. He disappears in


and

Prospero high

praises

Ariel's

work

has

reached the

height

of

clap his

"My

charms

work, / And these, mine enemies, sre sll knit up /

In their distractions: they now sre in my stste Alonso thinks the clouds, the winds
Prospero. The tempest has
and
now revesled

(in. iii. 88-90). In this hypnotic


snd

the thunder pronounce the nsme of


ss

itself

Fste

snd 3 call

to remembrance

hence

repentance.

Thus, Alonso
Alonso / And
wishes with

assumes

that the

loss

of

Ferdinand is the

recompense

for his

allisnce with

Antonio
to

sgsinst

Prospero. Ferdinsnd is bedded


seek

in the
The
mud.

ooze and now

join him: "I'll

him deeper than


(m.iii.
100102).

e'er plummet

sounded with

him there lie

mudded"

confrontation

the ethereal

hss driven Alonso towards the insensste


their own guilt. This

Now Alonso, Sebsstisn


second
encounter with

snd

Antonio

confront

is their

the

tempest.

The first brought them to the

island,

the second to

self-awareness.

By
and

contrast

the

first

scene

of

Act IV begins Prospero is

with

Prospero, Ferdinand
to release Ferdinand
good.

Mirands, in

s situstion where

beginning
and

from his
monishes

thralldom.

Ferdinand has been tried


chaste.

found

Prospero

ad

Ferdinand to be

Ferdinand
and

mskes s

life"

snd

for "quiet dsys, fsir issue,

long

stirring speech for honor (iv.i. 24). With a few minor

9.

Peterson,

op.

cit., p. 215.

220

Interpretation
of passion

lapses
Ariel
The

Ferdinand
the

and

Miranda look to be composed,

and

now

will produce
masque

masque.

duly

celebrates and

fertility
what

and the cooperation


wishes

of

sky

and earth

in the lives
spirits,
which
fancies"

of

Ferdinand

Miands. Ferdinsnd

to think these sre

but Prospero foreshadows

is to

come

by

remarking,

by

mine art

/ I have from their

confines

called

to enact /

"Spirits, My present

(iv.i. 120-22). Ferdinand understandably wishes for time to stand still for the fair thing it has revealed. But time will not stand still, for at the moment of harvest in the wearying August of the mssque, Prospero's fsncy
now

shifts

to Caliban's foul conspiracy (iv.i. 140). In the regime of Prospero the


of

visions

the island
of

shift

with

his fancy. This


of

confirms

the view that The

Tempest is the story

the

interior drama
of

the "dream of Prospero". "Prospero


ss a s

hsd

plsyed with

the thought

humsn life

masque,

beautiful,

majestic,
evil."10

transient:

but it

would not

do. It is instesd

bitter drams

of good snd

"In the

end

the choice is between himself sffirming the spiritusl sources of


of

society, the dependence the sscred, snd


rejects
s

the temporal snd the seculsr

upon

the eternsl snd

society

which rejects supernstursl ssnctions snd

in the

event

morality Machiavellian perspective but to


He
ne'er

itself."11

The

return

to human affairs, in short, is not to the

a comprehensive view
who

leading

to moderation:

is

crowned

/ With

immortality

voices

lead. Prospero's

remembrance of

fears to follow / Where airy Caliban 's conspiracy is, naturally, the

occasion

for remembering the general atmosphere of conspiracy Prospero has inhabited, and, necessarily, in the end, the fact that he himself has conspired
against

the conspirators. This memory produces a tempest

in Prospero's

own

mind now which

is

evident to

Ferdinand. But Prospero dismisses him limit to his imaginative


are power
a

snd

in

reflecting
the
stuff

on
of

Cslibsn
which

recognizes a

to transform
which

human beings

formed. Caliban's is

nature

Prospero's creep up the form

nurture cannot perfect.

on of

Prospero's

dwelling

Thus, Caliban and his co-conspirators now like animals and are driven out by spirits in
snd

dogs chasing prey. Now all Prospero's enemies are st his mercy, resched. The king snd his followers hsve become

hunting

the sixth hour hss been

penitent snd this

is

sufficient msgicsl

for Prospero. He
powers. under

shall choose virtue over vengeance snd relinquish reduced

his

The king's party has been


spell.

to

something less than human


at

Prospero's

They

thus lie

foul

and

muddy,

the ebb tide of their

humanity. As they
repentance which

are

of reason overcomes

gradually led back into the human condition the flood their muddiness. Their humiliation is the prerequisite to

is the

beginning
and

not of

their

degradation but

of their ascent

to some semblance of virtue.

That there is

virtue

intimated for
Gonzalo is
10. 11.

some

time,

this is the case

in Alonso has been strongly in his first reunion with Prospero. Antonio may be held
p.

of course virtuous.

Sebastian

and

by

some

D. G. James, The Dream of Prospero (Oxford, 1967),

136.

James,

op.

cit., p. 150.

Temporal Royalties
virtue

and

Virtue's

Airy
revesl

Voice in The Tempest

221

becsuse

of

Prospero's direst to
Alonso'

their abortive conspiracy sgainst

Alonso. Now Prospero


plays on

hss lost his daughter This But


serves

without

to remind

loss of Ferdinand by saying he saying that he has lost his daughter to Ferdinand. Alonso of his separation from his daughter Claribel.
s

apparent

having

had this bitter joke the


is

restored

Duke

of

Milan

now

produces

Ferdinand.

The
"all
of

play's conclusion
us"

contained

in Gonzalo's

reflection that

in

one voyage

hsve found "ourselves / When


wickedness

no msn wss

his

own"

(v.i. 209-13).

"Prospero trsnsvslues the


of

snd

torment on his isle into the stuff


abides

dresms.

Possibly

the lsst

evil

for Prospero

in cynicism, the
psrs-

Antonio

in

psrts

Antonio is, like Iago, an antipoetic mind who sees the world instesd of by totsl In this dilemms the eternsl is only,
malady.
vision."

doxicslly,

s momentsry solution within the terms of the human condition. The incipient lawlessness of humanity can be subdued "only for a moment in a scene created

by

wholly

poetic s

consciousness."12

The

enacted self

is itself

fugitive;

not s generic

unity but
s

drsmstic identity.
of sdditionsl
considerations:

There are,

however,
and most

number

it

would

be

difficult to study The Tempest


and

structure,

remarking its evanescence both in theme commentators have done so. To this point, the dis
without an attempt

cussion

has

proceeded
mindful

in

to be faithful to that quality


sentiment

and of

to be

of

the centrality of Prospero's

that the

in the play, fabric


an

his

vision

is

"baseless"

(iv.i. 151), that the human

condition must not

is

"insub
that

pageant"

stantial

(iv.i.

155).

On the

other

hand, it
is

be

reaffirmed

there is

fabric This

and

pagesnt,

snd

their reslity

constituted

in their

msterislity.

certifies

the connection between Shskespeare and the ancient

roots of sents

philosophy and theology, and leaves no doubt that Shakespeare pre both a conception of excellence or nobility ss real, snd slso s forthright sccount of the difficulty of schieving these quslities. Since thst schievement

is intuitive

snd/or

intellectusl, it is
esrlier

s mstter of

seeing snd, in The Tempest,

poetic seeing.

It hss been
poetic

suggested

thst,

within

the specific terms of this plsy,

philosophicsl or theological seeing. To the extent seeing is superior to that is so in The Tempest, it is because the srt of seeing the Tempest seems to demsnd poetic seeing, snd, if proof were needed, The
"insubstsntisl"

itself is proof,
of such seeing.

provided one suspends a prejudice against

The

rank of characters

lack

of

it,

which

they

possess, and

possibility in the play is based on the vision, or on the degree to which they can learn,

the

sheer

previously they hsd not seen. This is, Prospero snd thus is reminiscent of of course, true in the highest degree of Measure. for Measure in insight Vincentio's Duke
when given a

fresh chsnce, to

see whst

12.

in Shakespeare (New Wylie Sypher, The Ethic of Time, Structures of Experience


pp. 205-6.

York,

1976),

222

Interpretation
other

On the
snd

hsnd,

there is s clesr

difference

of tone

between The Tempest

Measure for Measure. Measure for Measure is


obvious political

more esrthbound snd

has

more

teaching
of

about

the value

of

domestic

or

familial
divine

orderliness virtue

for the

maintenance extremes

of political order

in

a condition of moderate
suburbs

(between the
which,
mesn

the dissolution of the

snd

perfection

on

Does this

esrth, devolves into mere rules). thst Shskespesre, in moving, by s


to The

long

route not

described
kind

here, from Measure for Measure


solid political consolation

Tempest, hss gradually


on poetic

abandoned a
of

teaching for

dependence
of

imsginstion

ss

for the

imperfectibility

the mortal, human condition? There is

much evidence

to suggest otherwise.
of proper marriage
and

In the first place, the theme

is

maintained

in The Tempest
in their
vision

in

a semidivine presentation.
other and reinforced

Ferdinand

Miranda

are united

of each

by

the vision of cooperation between earth and

sky in the msrrisge mssque. But this is done in s wsy thst remsins consistent with The Tempest's internsl integrity snd themstic cohesion. In the second
plsce, Prospero's descent from
snd
power which

is

repsired

by

an ascent

in wisdom,

his

eventusl return to echoes a

his

proper post

in Milan

armed with s more compre

hensive vision,

Shskespesre's
vision

recurrent theme of

suffusing the humsn


that only those

moral order with

larger

that leads to the


can

moderation

of comprehensive and sober

The Tempest may then be


philosophical expression of

understanding seen as Shakespeare's

display.
greatest effort to achieve a

on

moral

and

subsumed
mesn not

the thought that consistently underlies his teaching life. This play seems to assert that generic unity is in dramstic identity. But whst does it mesn to ssy thst? Does it
political

thst nothing persists?

On the contrary, it is
vision

quite clesr thst

if there is it does.

something in the
snd sober
we must

poetic

thst persists,

the emphssis on nobility,

excellence,

judgment

could not confront us so

clesrly

ss

Rsther, ssy thst no humsn sgent of such poetic seeing persists. To the extent thst the vision of The Tempest is specificslly Prospero's vision,
or, for thst mstter,
sleep,"

specificslly is

Shskespesre's, it
behind"

must

be "rounded

with

dissolving
instead
persist.

to "leave not a rack


not

(iv.i.i54ff.). To the

extent that

the vision of The Tempest


at

least

mysterious presence

presence

However, its
seen

only Prospero's or Shakespeare's, but is in the text itself, it obviously must in the text depends on its continued potential
the observers themselves

for

being

by

successive observers.

But this
who will
"practice"

potential what

depends in

some

measure

on

know
of

they

are

being

expected

to see.

Implied, therefore, is
be
reaffirmed on

seeing

which can persist

but

which must

every
who of

occasion

by

those who see,

thus

distinguishing

themselves from those


as
of

do

In this way The Tempest may be understood the highest sort, and necessarily reminiscent, in its own idiom,
not
see.

teaching
put

the experience

of

the Platonic presentation

of

Socrates. To

see

in this

sense
avoid

is to

into

practice a vision of

human

conduct

but,

simultaneously, to

the reduction

Temporal Royalties
of such cannot vision
with

and

Virtue's

Airy

Voice in The Tempest

223

to a set of rules which, in the

temporality

of

humsn things,

sny certsinty be of permanent value in guiding humsn beings through the vicissitudes of historical existence. It is the vision to which one
subscribes rsther thsn s command which one must obey.
optimism

There is

fundamental

in this understanding that what is to be seen can be seen despite the conspiracy against it, and that it can be resffirmed in every psssing moment.
It is thus
s vision which seeks exercise of

to hold together the moral sutonomy of humsn


with

beings in the
of whst

their sgency,

the possibility

of s

conception

humsn sgency

should

le3d to

snd

look like providing


must

sn

elusive, but

resl, stsndard of judgment. It is this which Prospero


snd psss on

csrry bsck to Milsn

to Ferdinsnd snd Mirands.


or

The purity

of missdventure

sdmirsbility of motives will in the mutable and uncertain On the


other

not relesse us circumstsnces

from the dsngers in


which we must

try

to act on those motives.


ss

hsnd,

the nsture of our motives,

insofsr

they msy be

revesled

to us, undoubtedly sffects our judgment of

the actions thst proceeded under their guidsnce.

Prospero's is
of a

misadventure

in

originally relinquishing his Antonio's in perverting his

political responsibilities
political responsibilities. misadventure

different

sort

from

Furthermore, Prospero's

lesds to

grester,

more

compre

hensive understsnding symbolized by his two insdvertent snd the second by choice under
Prospero's initisl
motives

renuncistions of power: conditions

the

first

of unlimited

power.

betray

limited

perception,

subject

to revision snd

improvement, but
snd, in the event,

not wickedness or mslevolence.


unimproved snd magnified

Antonio's

motives sre wicked

tiousness csn only be


cannot

ambisppsrently unimprovsble. Antonio's dictate. circumstances It or diminished as

be

transformed or transposed
might

into his

different

urging.

Of Caliban, it
where which

be

said that

motives are unsettled.


maturity.

They

are some

between instinct
would

and

reflective

They
snd

lack the delibersteness

permit

us

to judge with certainty how far

he

might

be

able

to

advsnce.

Antonio is

unsmbiguous

in this sense,
srise

lower.
tslk of the higher snd the

The
the

question

will,

of course,
and

ss

to

whether

lower,

the
and of

base

the

noble,

the

admirable

and

despicable,

the

benevolent
sentiment

the malicious, makes sense


whence

if

self-enactment

is the

self-chosen

the actor
sssess

by
to

which

to
of

motives?

sppsrently independent standsrd For Shskespesre, it seems to come from an


comes

this

swareness

the

comprehensive

range of possible

motives

for humsn beings


upon us.

spprehend and choose smong.

The

range

is

real and

imposes itself

It is natural, if human The

by

natural

is

meant

the unsought but unsvoidsble conditions


reflection.

experience

imposes

upon

humsn

But it is

not

only

natural.

range of motives of

is

slso

orderly

snd csnnot
we

be

expressed otherwise

thsn

in

terms

better
we are

or

worse.

Thus,

msy be flooded

by

motives

but

not

permitted

to be unaware of their

msny implications in

possible a

moral sense.

Finally, it may be

remarked

that no

hierarchy

among the better

motives

224

Interpretation
This is true
enough.
of

is

sppsrent.

But
or

whst

is decisive is the
motives,
snd of

revelstion of

of

chsrscter

in respect, first,
schieved

better

worse

second,

the

srrsngement

by

esch

well-disposed

individusl

the

better

motives

(including
srrsnged).

consideration of

the comprehensiveness of the range of motives so


personifies

Ususlly, Shskespesre

the

stsndsrd

in

s chsrscter who
motives

is
an

both

well-disposed snd

exhibiting

sn extensive

array
thus

orderly manner. The vision in each play.


The
case
relative

hierarchy
of

of

the

virtues

worthy depends on the dramatic

of

in

importance

the various good motives will

depend in
chsrscters.

each

on

the contingent conditions the play


of the
virtues

imposes
a

on

the

The The

relstive

equslity among them, but does


coherence of the coherence
not

does

not

prevent

hierarchical

arrangement
cases.

require

different in

arrangements

in different

moral order struck

each case

is

among the good things in the midst of diminish one virtue for the sake of another. On the contrary,
one
virtue

For, in preserving life's contingency, one does


crucial. one cslls

upon

for the

sske

of

virtue

sltogether.

Were this
must

not

the esse,

contingency
of virtue

would overwhelm

virtue.

The

good msn of

hsve the cunning


about

if he is to

outwit the

deceptions

the

wicked

and remain resilient

to the endlessness of temporality.


about anything.

Surely, The Tempest is


of

this if it is

From this
nificant

"Epilogue"

point

of

view, the

The Tempest takes


snd

on

sig
with will

dimension: Prospero's
strength st

charms are now of

overthrown,

he is

reduced

to the

fsint

the

disposal
not

temporality.

But if he is

to be

"confined"

any human being in confrontation but "Sent to it


Naples"

depend
vision

on

the audience, that

is, it
his

will

depend

on their appropriation of gentle

his

to resubstantiate it as

successors. of

Their

breath

must

fill his

sails or else

his

project was

fails. The task


and

seeing
wishes of

now

falls to them. Of course,


applauded.

his dramatic task


he
wishes

"to please",

he

to

be

In addition,

to persist

in the
us

persistence about

their pleasure.
rank

In the meantime,

the play

has taught

something

the

of pleasures.

Thus,
would of

while

the audience can see what it wants to see, the play

has

provided

a precept

for seeing better. To insist thst this is insist thst the dreams of politics are not

not

political

tesching

be to

encompassed

by

the dream

life.

The Pursuit
and

of

Happiness in Jefferson
and

its Background in Bacon

Hobbes

Jeffrey Barnouw
John

Dewey Fellow,

ig83~84

When Thomas Jefferson


men

maintained

that government is instituted among

to secure their inaliensble rights,


snd

including
he
was

"preservstion
whst

of

life,

snd

liberty
with

the pursuit of
widespresd

happiness,"1

conviction

respect

stating smong his compstriots, but slso msking to the inaliensble right to the pursuit of hsppiness

he felt to be

particularly
s complex

snd subtle clsim with

fsr-resching
provides

implicstions for
is

constitutions! theory.

The
snd

series

is

sn

sscending

order: self-preservstion

s prerequisite of

liberty,

liberty, for Jefferson,


endeavors.

the bssis for all sorts of individual and joint

Following
construe

he tends to
pursuits

thst sre not


of

and ultimately Hobbes, individusl ss ssfegusrding security, liberty themselves politicsl, nor necesssrily public. If he thus and political as so-cslled
negative

Hume

Montesquieu, Locke

conceives

liberty

in

terms,

not

as

an

end

in itself but
goal'

as
as

making

possible other

ends, Jefferson also conceives

of

the 'ultimate
progresses.

open-ended, s

pursuit which generates new purposes ss

it

Jefferson is
provide

not ssserting thst legitimste government has an for the hsppiness of its citizens. On the contrary, with

obligstion regsrd

to

to the

constitution of

the

stste

the

emphssis

is

'pursuit'

ss much on

ss on
whst

'hsppiness'.

Not only is it not the plsce of the stste to determine hsppiness or whst should be the psrticulsr gosls for its citizens; the quslity of endeavor itself represents s vslue both for the individusl snd for the stste.
might constitute

In securing the is
essenti3l

pursuit of

hsppiness,

the stste

is

mesnt

to protect snd encourage

s spirit of enterprise

in its people,
striving for

s sense of venturesome self-relisnce which

to hsppiness. It msy seem one-sided to mske support of the


self-

indi

vidusl'

spontsneous

fulfilment the

crux of

the stste, until this natural

it is

recognized

thst the individusl 's urge to


crucial

legitimscy of enjoy and develop


the

liberty
of the

is in turn

to the good of the whole, to maintain

ing

just

government snd constitution.

The tssk

present

in Jefferson's

writings

essay is to elucidate the relation of these ideas against the background of analogous constellations of
who
were

ideas in Bacon
new

and

Hobbes,

the first to recognize and promote a


with

psychology

of endeavor

associated

the emergence of experimental


with

science

in the

seventeenth

century.

been
I.

underestimated and neglected

Hobbes's own continuity in the secondary literature,


Declaration of

Bacon has
extent

ss

hss the

draught"

From his "original Rough


ed.

of the

Independence, in The Papers of

Thomas Jefferson,

Julian P. Boyd (Princeton, I950ff.), I:

423.

226
of

Interpretation
sffinities and
will

his

with

lesding
is
msde of

writers
not

of

the later

Enlightenment.2

To discern

continuities

sffinities

the ssme ss
contribute snd

tracing

sources

or

influences.

No

sttempt

be

here to
the

directly

to the debste on the


of

immediste

sntecedents

idess

expressions

the Declaration of
of of

Independence, but it
endesvor

csn

in Bscon

snd

be shown, for example, thst the understsnding Hobbes is more relevsnt to Jefferson's conception

the pursuit of

hsppiness

snd

its

politicsl rsmificstions
hsppiness.'

thsn the

idess

elsborsted
reflect which or

by Locke under the hesding 'pursuit of s distinctly different snd even opposite psychology.
proceeds

The lstter in fsct Intellectusl


not

history

in terms

of continuities which on

snd

sffinities on

need

be less

rigorous

less

illuminsting
will

th3n thst

insists

the sttribution of actual

influence.
reveals

Its cogency

depend

the depth of understanding which

it

in

interpreting
writers or

configurations of

ideas,

whether

in

an

individual

writer or a par

ticular period, and on the capacity to ground

its

correlations

between different

disparate

ages

in this deeper level

of coherence.

I. THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

At the beginning,

we must see

how the

pursuit of

happiness is relsted, in
that is
to George

Jefferson's thinking, to

politicsl

order snd

liberty
he

and to the progress

bound up "no other


and

with social sure

enlightenment.
can

In

1786

wrote

Wythe that
of

foundation
than "the

be devised for the


of

preservation

freedom

happiness"

diffusion

underlying idea is that only the

people are a reliable are well

knowledge among the The judge of what is in their


people."3

interest,

and then

only

when

they

informed. The
mean not

connection

becomes but

more complex when enlightenment

is taken to

only the

spread

the advance of

knowledge,

and

corresponding

change of

interests

and purposes.

In

8 16 Jefferson wrote,
and

laws

institutions

must go

hand in hand
more

with the progress of the as new

human

mind.

As that becomes
new

more

developed,

enlightened,

discoveries
times.4

are made,
circum

truths

disclosed,

and manners and opinions change with

the change of

stances,

institutions

must advance

also, and
said

keep
to

pace with the

It is

significant

that this

was

not

vindicate

the

Revolution,

the
well

constitution

of a new

republic, but to

caution the present generation ss

2.
of

I have followed up

several strands

linking

Bacon to Hobbes,

and

Hobbes to

various

figures

the
3.

Enlightenment, in

essays cited

in

notes

11, 18, 28, 35, 37, 40

and 50-52.

August 13, 1786, Papers X: 244f. Cf. to James Madison, December 20, 1787. To Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816, in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb and Albert Ellery Bergh (Washington, D.C., 1903ft.), XV, 41. Next paragraph:
4.

XV, 40. (Where the appropriate volume of Papers has not yet been published. I will cite Writings.) Jefferson's letter to John Adams, June 15, 1813, Writings XIII: 254f., makes the same point in broader terms.

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


ss

and

Hobbes

227
men

posterity sgsinst venerating the Revolution in the wrong wsy. "Some look st constitutions with ssnctimonious Jefferson remsrks.

reverence."

They
it.
.

suppose what
.

forty
alter or

preceding age a wisdom more than human, and be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading.

ascribe to the men of the

they did

to

Forty

years

esrlier
a

he had

written

that "it

is the

right

of

the people to
of

abolish"

to

form

of government that
new

has become destructive

their
on

inalienable rights "and to institute


such and revolution

government,

principles
happiness."

as to them shall seem most

laying likely to

its foundation
effect their

ssfety
a

Reformulating

this in

1816, Jefferson

adapts

the motive of

to support a provision for constitutionsl

revision snd renewsl on

regulsr snd perpetual

basis. "Esch
of sll which

generation

is

ss

independent
it believes

of the one pre

ceding,

as

that

was

had

gone

before. It has then, like them,


most promotive

a right to choose of

for itself

the

form

of government

its

happiness."

own sets a precedent

The Revolution For Jefferson,


petuation
upon

for the
of

government that

follows from it.


for
per

at

lesst,

the

founding

the Republic does not csll

in its
not

originsl

form, like

sn achitectural

foundation that

can

be built

but

altered, but

rather calls

for emulation, that is, for


the

repeated renewal

which reaches

deeper than

mere sdsptation of

heritage,

to measure the
of the

form it
of

of

the present polity

against

the prevailing
will come

(common)

sense

goals

was

instituted to

promote.

We

back to

consider

the implications

this conception of a republic as a perpetual

founding
of

(not 'permanent
time

revolu

tion'), its introduction


political constitution.

of

new

understanding

into the

sphere

of

For Jefferson it
new republican

was

precisely
1786

safeguard,

as

well

as

virtue,

of

the

form

of government

that it was responsive to public happiness.


saw

Writing
msss

from Paris in his


"an

letter to George Wythe, Jefferson


confederacy
pursuit sgsinst

kings,
of

nobles and priests as of

sbsndoned

the

hsppiness
of an

the

people,"

people or

conversely security agaist the rise of priests, nobles or kings in a republic representative democracy. This is Jefferson's point when he tells Wythe,
as
.

snd

the

of

happiness

informed

"Preach

crusade
common

against
people.

ignorance,
Let
our

establish

and

improve the law


people

for educating the

Countrymen know that the

alone can protect us against these

In the preceding
were
head"

year

he had

written

to Richard

Price that "the

people

sensible"

becoming
as

universally
to

of

"the

want

of power

in the federal
destruction,"

"the flaw in

our constitution which might endsnger spirit


enlsrge

its

snd thst

sccordingly "s

the powers of

Congress

wss

becoming

general."

In this

response

he

recognizes an essentisl

trait of republicanism,

The happiness

of governments

like

ours, wherein the poeple are


of.

truly
so

the mainspring,
as to

is

that

they

are never

to

be despaired

When

an evil

becomes

glaring

228

Interpretation
they
arouse

strike them generally,

themselves, and

it is

redressed.

He only is then the


reform the and this char

popular man and can get evil.

into

office who shows the

best disposition to
the

This truth in

was obvious on several occasions

during

late war,
s

acter

our governments saved us.

Calamity
so

was our

best
a

physician.

The letters

we

have drawn

on

far

present

variety

of as

contexts,

yet

a coherent outline of the relations own

between

public

happiness,
and

the people's
government

concern,

and

the progressivity and

stability
recognize

of republican
respond

has begun to
situations,

emerge.

The capacity to

to

negative
and

with popular welfare and approval as criterion and

touchstone,

to change accordingly, is what "promises thst


each generation

permsnence"

for

s republic.

The ides
(to
use

is

or

should

be its

own

focus,

that the esrth

is precisely, snd not st sll Jefferson's expression) "belongs to the bssis of the snd the parsdoxicslly, continuity enduring strength of the polity. new conception of is introduced into politicsl thought with the A history
ides thst
snd esch generation which

living,"

should consider
before."

itself independent has


seen

of the

preceding
self-

"all

had

gone

One
to a

critic

this functional

centeredness
'rights'

as

necessarily
'our'

leading

lsck

of concern

for the

needs

snd

of

posterity, but I think, on the contrary, that it brings with it both

concern

for
to

'entail'

concern such ss

not

posterity (however broadly opinions and institutions


on

we and

construe

'our')

and

the

constraining situations,

the nstionsl

debt,
to

future

generations.6

Jefferson in fsct
the obligstion
not

offers a rationsle

for

concern with the rights of

posterity,

responsibility
of

entsiled

foreclose their possibilities, which is bssed not in s in the heritsge, but precisely in the ides thst the fruits living. It is in
s

the

esrth

belong

to the

letter to Msdison from Psris,

September 6, 1789, thst he takes up "the question, whether one generation of men has a right to bind Again the context of French politics,
another."

now

very different, is

an

importsnt influence; the preceding

month

hsd

seen

5.

6. In Wills
"modem

February 1, 1785, Papers VII; 631. Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration


overboard

of Independence (New

York,

1978),

Garry
which

goes

in his
'the

eagerness

to debunk the
living,'

purposes

"pulse-quickening

for

liberals"

quote

earth

belongs to the

By
of

making any

each generation

of one's posterity,
claim

live only for itself, Jefferson would not only inhibit the entailing but the enhancing of its life. He would teach men not only to live quit from the dead, but quit of the claims as well since only the
unborns'

living

should

enjoy

earth's usufructs,

(p. 127)

Wills

even suggests

it

would

be

consonant with

Jefferson's idea if

one generation were to

"acquire

the means
native

for its

own enjoyment

posterity, or use up the land

by aliening the land itself sell it off and leave by short-sighted management, returning quick

none of

it to

profits."

interest in posterity as part of the self-interest of Lafayette, April 11, 1787, criticizing the short leases on land in France, in contrast to England where long leases, linking the generations, "render the farms there almost hereditary, [and] make it worth the farmers while to manure the lands Papers XI: 284.
on as

the contrary, counted on the

Jefferson, the living,

when

he

writes

to the Marquis de

highly."

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


the
'feudal'

and

Hobbes

229

decrees sbolishing privileges. The immediate implication of his principle seems to be the very opposite of what Garry Wills inferred. "I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self-evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights
over

it. The

portion occupied
snd reverts

by

any individusl
society."

cesses to

be his

when

himself inherits

cesses to

be,

to the

Jefferson

srgues that a man

property
not

by

natural right,

but

by

law

of

the society of which he is

member,

and to occu

which

he is

subject.

Then,

no man can,

by

natural right, oblige the

lands he

him in that occupation, to the payment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might during his own life, eat up the usu fruct of the lands for several generations to come; and then the lands would belong
pied or

the persons who succeed

to the

dead,

and not the

living.7

The 'in

principle

that the earth

belongs

to the

living

and

the qualification

usufruct'

is

connected

only brings out what is implied in the with Jefferson's view that property is

emphasis on

'the

living'

not s nstursl right

but

one

which

is

estsblished

by

snd subject to

is in turn closely linked nstursl right. In 1785 Jefferson hsd written,

the civil power. This view of property to the conception of the pursuit of hsppiness ss s

clear

Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right.
earth

The

is

given as a common stock

for

man

to

labour & live


we must

on.

If for the

encour

agement of

industry
be

we allow

it to be appropriated,

take care that other

employment

provided to
right

those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not,


earth returns

the

fundamental
or

to

labour the

to the

unemployed."

Whether in
1776

not

Jefferson's

original

reference to
of

the pursuit of
a correction of

happiness
the
con

was

influenced
triad

by

the

idea

effecting

ventional

(Lockean)

'life, liberty

property,'

and

it

seems

highly

probable

by 1789 Jefferson saw the pursuit of hsppiness as an inalienable right which is incompatible with a natural right to property or inheritance, and that this conflict was sddressed in his principle 'the esrth beongs to the
that
living.'

When Jefferson 'Declsrstion


two
of of

pencilled

in

suggested emendstions of

Lsfsyette's draft for

the rights of msn and


put

the

phrases

forward
Wills does

under

early in 1789, he bracketed the 'essential rights of msn': "le soin


the connection

citizen,'

7. earth

Papers XV:

392-93.

not

recognize

between the idea that the


but
a

belongs to the
p.

living

and

the idea that property

is

not

natural

civil

right. In

different context,

231, he

refers

to the latter idea as setting Jefferson apart from

Locke

and

linking
in
a

him

with

Hutcheson,
of

a correlation that

has been challenged, in this

regard and

in general,

trenchant

critique

Enlightenment,'

William

Inventing America by Ronald Hamowy, "Jefferson and the Scottish and Mary Quarterly'^, no. 4 (October 1979): 503-23. If neither Locke
and

property rights as civil in origin, Hobbes did. 8. To the Reverend James Madison, (the statesman's cousin William and Mary,) October 28, 1785, Papers VIII: 682.
nor

Hutcheson

saw

President

of

the

College

of

230 de
son

Interpretation
honneur"

snd

"le droit de

propriete"

snd

sppsrently

suggested thst

the

lstter be

replsced

by

"Is

recherche of

du

bonheur."9

The stability
of

and

generation and each

continuity individual

the republic are thus seen to depend on esch


'self-centered'

being

in

and through writings

the pursuit

happiness. This
a
new

configuration of of

ideas in Jefferson's
(based

in

effect
as

intro be

duced
argued

conception

historical time into


on

political

thought,

will

below, but it is

a conception

analogous
of

configurations) that

hsd slresdy proved its worth in other Revolution snd the Enlightenment. This
progress and

spheres

culture

in the Scientific
of

characteristic

interrelation
can

pursuit,
most

posterity
work of

as

dimensions

of

historical time

be delineated

clearly in the Jefferson


ever

Francis Bacon.

regarded yet

Bacon

as one

"of the three


written

greatest men the world

has

little has been

on what

he

might owe

to

Bacon.10

Beyond any strictly identifisble debt in scientific mstters or methodology, I believe Jefferson msy hsve derived from his resding of Bscon s bssic theme of his political thought. Such s connection, lacking explicit testimony, is

incspsble

of

proof,

but

what

is important is the breadth

and

depth

of

the

analogy, that

is, its

systematic character and psychological grounding.

9. The Letters of Lafayette and Jefferson, ed. Gilbert Chinard (Baltimore, 1929). pp. 80-82; Chinard, Thomas Jefferson, The Apostle of Americanism (Ann Arbor, 1957), pp. 232-34. and Adrienne Koch, Jefferson and Madison: The Great Collaboration (New York, 1964). pp. 80-81.

Chinard
abuses

claims

that Jefferson was also responsible


arise

for the insertion


of

of an additional

reason, beyond

that might

and the need to

keep

abreast

the "progres des

lumieres,"

for revising
generations.

human institutions: "le droit des In her discussion


oppose
of

succedent,"

generations qui se

the right of succeeding


pp.

'the

earth

belongs to the

living,'

62-96, Koch

resists

the

tendency

to

'the

happiness'

pursuit of

to a natural right of property,

in note 8. This issue is also addressed in chapter 3 of American Conceptions of Property from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century (Bloomington, 1977). Scott writes, p. 42, "it is tempting to conclude, but impossible to prove, that in 1776 Jefferson
sensed

citing the letter to Madison quoted William B. Scott, In Pursuit of Happiness:

the

disparity

between

certain

contemporary forms in
it
its

of private

property

and

Locke's
concept

idealized 'natural
of

property'

and

that in an effort to restore the old moral content to the


substituted

individual

property,

Jefferson

stead

the more suggestive phrase 'pursuit of


was

Happiness.'"

This is fair
with an

enough

as

far

as

goes,

but Locke's idealization

linked from

the

beginning
right

natural

to a

interest in safeguarding pursuit of happiness would


first

established

property
and
n.

relations. at

The Jeffersonian
a

keep
7)

sovereign

power

distance in

different direction. Hamowy, (see preceding


the
time the
present paper was

note

p.

519

62.

made

this point at
with

very just

delivered, in slightly different form but


'The Pan-Atlantic

this

same

emphasis, at the plenary

session of a conference on

Enlightenment'

sponsored

by
of

the

East-Central American

region of

the American

Society

for

Eighteenth-Century
1979,
at

Studies

and the

Institute

Early
10.

History

and

Culture, November 8-10,

Williamsburg, Virginia.

2,

1814,

To Benjamin Rush, January 16, 181 1, Writings XIII: 4. Cf. to Walter Jones, January Writings XIV: 48. Douglass Adair explores one aspect of the deeper resonance of
and attitudes

Bacon's ideas in Fame for

and the

Founding

in Jefferson, in his essay, "Fame and the h others (New York, 1974), pp. 3-26.

founding
esp.

Fathers,"

reprinted

16-20.

The only
on the

sub

stantive reference

to Baconian method that I


Salt,'

have been

able to

find is in "Report
ed.

Methods

Obtaining
P- 970.

Fresh Water from

The Complete Jefferson,

Saul K. Padovcr (New York,

1943),

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


Bacon
conceived of science ss a

and

Hobbes

231

disciplining
and

of

the mind through deliberate

experience.
snd

He

was on

thus opposed both to a nsive psssive mode of experience

to reliance to

teachers, tradition
and

particularly

classical

philosophy.

According
and

Bacon, Plato
whole,

Aristotle

presented

(their)

science as a closed
of

completed
which

mind,

exploiting and reinforcing the predisposition is evident in common induction or experience in its
instances,'

the

passive

mode, to ignore "negative expectations,


gaps or

that

is,

experiences
a

that do

not

fit its

and

thereby

to preserve the vsin pretense to

knowledge

without

loose
to

ends.

Science,
native

Bacon,
be
and

therefore

to msn's mind.

The

nstursl concern

involves overcoming a conservatism (and pride) for continuity and closure of ex

perience must

countered and mediated

by

curiosity, innovation and


an

attention

to the

faults

limits

of current csn

knowledge. (It is in
be
s

analogous

sense

that sccident or even


enterprise

tescher.) Experience ss initistive snd cslsmity is the foundstion of science, for Bscon, because it throws into relief
hand'

the active contact with reality that is 'first

one's own experience. experience and the

Only
an

this pervssive, if

implicit,
is
at

'personsl'

recourse

to
a real

individual

responsibility for knowledge


advancement which

assures

continuity in science, that is,


or

the same time a form of tradition

handing
snd

on.

Bacon

criticized

the presentstion of

(supposed)
He

science

in finished form
resssurance,
vener-

becsuse this
rather than
stion of

seemed to

him

cslculated to

induce awe, belief

to stimulate "expectant

inquiry."

attscked the misdirected

the schievements of the sncients and the related assumption that these

could not

be

surpassed

or

improved, because
human power,

such

attitudes

"tend wholly to
snd

the

unfair circumscription of
which not

and to s

deliberate

fsctitious

despsir,
One

only disturbs the


and throws

suguries of

hope, but

also cuts the sinews


itself.""

and spur of of

industry,

the general signs


which

away the chances of experience which Bacon took as justifying hope is the

prog-

ressivitv

of science,
arts. sort

he

saw

prefigured

in the

cumulative

advance

of

the

mechanical

He
of

contrasted

this

with

the continual vicissitudes


of

in the

history

of that

philosophy which, instead

fruits

and

works, seeks

conviction and produces contention.

All the

tradition and
not of

succession of schools

is

still a succession of masters and scholars

[disciples],
in them
II.
ed.

inventors

and

those

who

bring
find it

to

further
they,
and

perfection on

the things

invented. In the
some

mechanical arts we

do

not

so:

the contrary, as
more

having

breath

of

life,

are

continually growing

becoming

perfect.12

Novum Organum. Book I. Aphorism 88,


and

Spedding, Ellis,
and

as translated in The Works of Francis Bacon, Heath (London, i857ff.), IV: 86. For fuller treatment of the themes paragraphs, see

of this

the

following

Science,"

in Francis Bacon's Moral Psychology of and "Bacon and Hobbes: The Conception

my essays, "Active Experience vs. Wish-Fulfilment The Philosophical Forum 9 (1979): 78-99, Experience in the Scientific
which are extended
Revolution,"

of

Science/

Technology &
note 28.

the

Humanities

(1979): 92-1 10-

in the

articles cited

below,

12.

From the Preface to Instauratio Magna,

as

translated in Works IV: 14.

232

Interpretation

This progressivity, like utility itself, is an indication for Bacon that the knowl edge involved is rooted in reality. "Knowledge which is founded in nature

has, like living


based
on

waters, perpetual uprushings and outflowings, while

knowledge

on opinion

can,

of

authority never rises The self-corrective and


continual recourse

course, vary but never higher than its original founder.


cumulative chsrscter of of

increase."13

A tradition based

trades snd crafts

is is

grounded sense of
mediated

in the
testing.

these arts to practice ss 'proof

in the

The

relstion

of one

thinker or generation and the next

by

problems.

primsry involvement in practice, the individual engagement with In this sense Bacon distinguished two types of continuity [or
all

particular

"touching
by
men's

the tradition

handing

on]

of

knowledge,
delivered

the one

Critical,

the other Pe-

dantical. For
proper

knowledge is

either

by

teachers,

or attained

endeavours."14

A
are

critical

tradition,
and

of

which

the mechanical arts

and

Baconian

science

examples,
on

Jeffersonian

republicanism perhaps another,

depends for its


their

continuity

the repeated

initiative

of

individuals

who

bring

heritage
opinion'

to the test of their own experience. It stands in marked contrast to the passive
sort of tradition

in which,

as

Bacon said, followers

make a

'leader

of

great, like

ciphers

coming
general

after an

integer, in

that

"they

have

never given a

valid assent to
judgment."15

the

opinion, for this results

from

an act of

independent

not

This broad analogy of Baconian and Jeffersonian ideas, which may or may be a reflection of direct influence, will help to underline a crucial point
role of

about the

the 'pursuit of

happiness'

in Jefferson's idea
concerned with

of a republic.

It is

not

that government should

be

directly

the happiness of
rather

the people (a characteristic assumption of that it should be responsive to, and

'benevolent'

absolutism), but

The determinstion

of whst

indeed rely on, their concern, their pursuit. thst happiness is to include is precisely psrt of the
in Jefferson's
"

people's own concern, snd


sn

words

from the Declsrstion


snd

there

is

emphssis

not

so

much

on

to effect their ssfety

hsppiness,"

ss on

the preceding phrase, "ss to them shall seem most


constitutive reference of the
present of their

likely

to
of

The
of

each

American polity to the pursuit generation, which can of course include their
a

happiness for the

care

welfare

posterity, represents

fundamental

acknowledgement of the
realities which

possible positive value of

the qualitative changes and emergent


conception
of

time brings.

The American

republic

marks

radical

break

with classicsl republicanism

in

a number of

respects,

one of

the most drsmstic

13.

From Redargutio

philosophiarum

not

translated in
ed.

Philosophies'

in The Philosophy of Francis Bacon,

Works, but as "The Refutation of Benjamin Farrington (Chicago, 1966),

p.

127.
14.

15.

From The Advancement of Learning, Works III: 413. From Cogitata et Visa, as translated in Philosophy of Francis Bacon,

p. 95.

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon

and

Hobbes

233

being

the reversal of the attitude toward time as the medium of change and

chance.

J. G. A. Pocock has
only
the

argued thst

for

clsssical

republicanism time
government'

meant

instability
of

and
of

decay. "In the Polybisn 'mixed


the

we recognize

universality

Aristotelisn
escape

polis,"

he

claims.

"We

recognize also that

the aim

politics and

is to

imperfection

that change must


'virtue'

from time; that time is the dimension of This entails a necessarily be


degenerative."

strict opposition

between

in the

classical republican and stoic sense

and

'commerce'.

The doctrine that the

integrity
latter

of the could

personality, and that the sal,


not particular

polity must be founded on the integrity be maintained only through devotion to

of the univer

goods, had committed both ethical and political

theory

to a static

ideal. The

concept of the citizen or patriot was antithetical to that of economic man,

multiplying his
encouraged the

satisfactions and

transforming his

culture of

in

temporal process: it
could enable men

idea

that only a Spartan


time."'

rigidity

institutions

to

master

the politics of

Instead
meant ss

of

recognizing the fundamental break


'paradigm'

which

American independence

s revolution of the republicsn

continuity of the classical broke and 'the Country


whst

idesl, Pocock insists on an historical through Machiavelli, Harrington, Boling


Americsn revolutionsries, psrticulsrly This last link is based in the alleged
wsys

party'

to the

he

"

cslls of

Jeffersonisn
agricultural

mythology."17

opposition

and of

commercial

of

life,
not

and

overlooks perceived

the

intimate interdependence
sought

the

two,

which

Jefferson

only

but

to further.
criticized

I have
of

Pocock's

construction of

the supposed historical continuity the


paradigm of republican

republicanism, the illusion


at

of a persistence of

virtue,

length

elsewhere.18

The

clsssicsl with

model

sketched

by

Pocock is

of

incompstibility fundamentslly idess of the stste must hsve been sffected by the new significsnce snd dignity sssumed by individual interest and initiative, both in
suggests

interest here in thst its

the 'pursuit of

happiness'

how

'private'

the tion in

socioeconomic sphere and

in
to

political participation.
reinforce

The Revolu

America

presupposed and sought

the consonsnce of privste


consistent

pursuits snd public of

good, ss

exemplified

by

Jefferson's

championing

the rights

of commerce.

His

spprecistion of

the rewsrds of commerce ss s


in J. G. A. Pocock, Politics,

16.

"Civic Humanism
and

and

Its Role in Anglo-American


pp.

Thought,"

Language
17.
and

Time (New York, 1971), between

88,

90.
pp.

mythology"

For "Jeffersonian
relations

see agriculture and

Pocock,

97L

Such

misconceptions are cleared on a

up,

the

and

commerce

approached

sound

basis, in Joyce
Journal of

Appleby,
American
of

"Commercial

Farming

the

'Agrarian

Myth'

in the

Republic,"

Early

History 68,

no.

Jefferson?"

Thomas
18.

4 (March 1982), and "What is still American in the Political William and Mary Quarterly 39, no. 2 (April 1982).

Philosophy

"American Independence:

Revolution
ed.

of the

Republican

Ideal,"

in The American Revolu

tion and

Eighteenth-Century Culture,

Paul J. Korshin (New York,

1983).

234

Interpretation
must

way of life happiness.

be

seen

as

contributing to his
as

conception

of

the pursuit of

If the American Revolution,


the polity into

history, it

wss

in

psrt

believe, introduced s new conception of because, like Bsconisn science, it broke


A
new sense of

through a traditional orientation of experience to the past.


of

the

possibility gave experience an active relation to an essentially open reality future. Bacon had written, "Men's anticipations of the new are fashioned on
the
model

of

the old. The old governs their imagination. Yet this is a com
pattern of
thought."19

pletely fallacious
the 'new thst

We

can
snd

illustrate the
this

relation

between

science'

of the seventeenth

century

new sense of

possibility,
s

is,

the reorientstion of experience to the

future, by pursuing

further

elsborstion of

Bscon's thought in Hobbes.


principsl
modes of experience or

Hobbes distinguishes two

thinking. Pru

dence,
of

the mode of prscticsl thought sppropriste to the clsssicsl conception

the politicsl sphere, which


on

is tsken from

by

Hobbes

ss

the model of passive


or effects

experience, depends
possible, that

inferring

given

appearances

to their

is,

conjectured,
such

causes.

Based

on

the recall of previous associa


past-oriented
when

tions of events,

experience

is essentially
of

in its

approach

to the future. whatsoever,

"The

other

[mode

thinking] is,
with

we seek all

the possible effects, that can

by
a

imagining anything it be produced; that


it."20

is to say,
to

we

imagine

what we can

do

it,

when we

have

Hobbes's immediate
power s

point

is that inference from

cause

thst

is in
or

our

possible, thst

is,

reslizsble, effect is necesssry

knowledge,

science,

in

way that inference from

effect to possible cause csnnot

be. But Hobbes's

underlying insight links the capacity for science not so much with the urge to practical control (which is as true of prudence, shared by animsls), but rsther with msn's distinguishing trait of curiosity. All thinking or regulsted "discourse
of

of the

Invention."

for Hobbes "is nothing but Seeking, or the fsculty In the reorientstion of experience from psssive to sctive thst
the
no

mind"

is

connected

with

Scientific Revolution, this seeking is directed to


supposed to conform
of

sn

open

future thst is

longer

expected snd

instinctively
imsginstion
des-

"required'

to conform

to the terms

the psst.
whst csn

Such
snd

sn

openness to shows

possibility, to

be
"our

schieved
regsrd

by

endesvor,
"21

Jefferson to ssy to

Price,

with

to government

"wherein the

people are

truly
in
a

the

mainspring,"

motto

is truly 'nil

perandum'

As he

wrote

letter two

years

later, "It is
sll other

part of the

American

character resolution

to consider nothing ss
and contrivance. snd to
. .

desperate;

to surmount

every
sid,
we

difficulty by
sre obliged

Remote from

to

invent
19.
20.

execute; to find mesns within


of Francis

ourselves."22

The

Philosophy

Bacon,

p. 96.

Leviathan,

21.
22.

Macpherson (Baltimore, 1968), p. February 1, 1785, Papers VII: 631. To Martha Jefferson, March 28, 1787, Papers XI: 251.
ch. 3. ed.

96.

Spelling

modernized.

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


The
'progressive'

and

Hobbes
new

235
sense thus

nsture of republican government

in the

corresponded to s
snd sre

striving, resourceful chsrscter in the Americsn


snd

people.

Hope

curiosity, imsginstion
universsl

initistive,
can

resourcefulness snd resolution: these


within
a s

humsn

chsrscteristics.

But
on

psrticular

chological nature

they quality is, to a considerable degree, historical in its constitution snd influenced by ideas, including ideas about human nature. We have examined the role of
new

constellation

take

and

historical psy role. Human

the 'pursuit of
with

happiness'

in Jefferson's

political

thinking

and traced

its ho

mology snd its sdvsncement.

the desire for real

knowledge in Bscon's hsppiness into

conception of science

The integration
as

of

the pursuit of

the psychological as well


not

legal foundation

of

the modern state goes


who

back,

to

Bacon, however,
and who

but to Hobbes. It
the pursuit of the state as
which was

was

Hobbes
as a

first

conceived of the state as

happiness

'natural'

or

'inalienable

right,'

guaranteeing first saw


citizens

relying for its stability and legitimacy rooted in the pursuit of happiness. To
and

on

spirit

in its

appreciate

fully

Hobbes's

undeniable and
must

but indirect

scarcely
snd

acknowledged contribution to the conception


of republicsn

Americsn,
we

psrticulsrly the
status

Jeffersonisn,
of

government,

follow both the legsl

the psychologicsl strands of


of

foundstion: the
snd

constitutionsl
mind

the pursuit

hsppiness

ss

right,

the trait of

thst gives reslity to the pursuit snd mskes possible its role in msintsining the connection between the two strands, we must begin
of

s stsble polity.

To

understsnd

with

Hobbes's
snslysis critique of the

humsn nsture, which, like Bacon's, was both an in the sspect of interest here, sn idesl projection. As in his snd,
conception

of past-oriented prudential
mind

experience mode of

and the

nstursl

predisposition

that

is

reflected

in thst

experience, here too, in his

elsboration of

the active, initiative propensity

of

human nature, Hobbes

could

find

resources

for his

conception

in Bacon.

II. THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT

In The Advancement of Learning, Bacon is concerned not only with moti vating science, but with understanding motivation snd the psychologicsl bssis in humsn sctivity generally. In snticipstion of the contrast between Pedsnticsl snd Critical types of tradition with particular reference
of
'sdvsncement'

to "the
one

knowledge,"

progression

of

he writes, "since the labour

and

life

of

man

cannot

attain

to perfection of

knowledge,

the

wisdom

of tradition

is that
sort

which

inspireth the
or

of

tradition

felicity handing on
on,"

of continuance snd of

proceeding."23

The

wiser

knowledge

ensures

that

it "is delivered

ss a thresd to

be

spun

thst

insight

snd motivstion sre conveyed ss well.

23.

Works III: 43-

236 One less


known

Interpretation
might expect

thst

in this
or the

context

Bscon

would refer either

to a self

concern as

for posterity,

higher

egotism of

that regard

fame, but he is
of

content

here to

concentrate on and

for posterity the method of delivery. from the


point

For insight into the


of view

proceedin

"felicity

of continuance

the

individual,
suborn

we

must

turn to the conception


of

of

'plessure in
which serve

proceeding'

which

Bscon develops in his 'Georgics


life."

the

Mind,'

"to instruct

snd

sction
Good"

snd

sctive

There Bscon
upheld

srgues

for

"priority
sideration

of

the Active
our estste

which

he

ssys

is "much
to

by

the con

of

to

be

fortune."

mortsl

snd

exposed

Moreover,
is in

he sdds,
The
pre-eminence

likewise

of this

Active Good is
proceeding; variety;

upheld

by

the

affection which

natural

in

man

towards variety

and

But in enterprises, pursuits,

and purposes of

life,

there

is

much

whereof men are sensible with pleasure

their their

inceptions,
ends.24

progressions, recoils, reintegrations, approaches, and attainings to

In Eden before the


and not matter of vived st

Fall,

work

had been only "for


use,"

exercise and

experiment,

labour for the

and

this self-sustsining quslity hss sur

lesst

with respect

to intellectusl effort:

"Only lesrned
pleasure

men

love business
action

as

an

action

according to nature, Intellectual in


which

taking
is itself
no

in the

itself,

and not

in the

purchase."

pursuits provide the model

for 'plessure leads to


sppetite

in

proceeding,'

sppetite

enjoysble snd satisfaction satisfsction snd

new sre

desire: "Of knowledge there is


interchsngesble."25

satiety, but

perpetuslly Bscon spplies this model, life


which

however,

to humsn desire generally.


practicsl ethics or

It is this
'Georgics

chsrscter of of

he

seeks to

vindicste, in his

the

Mind,'

by

Bscon

pits s rsther stoic

countering snd redirecting bssic tendencies of stoicism. Socrates sgsinst s Sophist in debste, "Socrates placing
and

felicity in an equal desiring and much

constant

peace

of

mind, and the Sophist in

much

After weighing both sides, Bacon supports the Sophist to the effect thst 'to sbstsin from the use of s thing thst you msy not feel s want of it; to shun the want that you may not fear the loss of it;
are

enjoying."

the precautions of

Bacon's

crucial

pusillanimity departure from

and

cowardice.'26

stoicism can

be

seen

in his

conception of

how to learn from experience, to which he ironically assimilates the stoic idea of by an adroit reversal of its intention. For a stoic, 'suf
'suffering' fering'

means

undergoing draweth

superiority
suffering,

and

and enduring external necessitation, but with an inner indifference to it. Bacon speaks rather of "a wise and industrious and contriveth use and sdvantage out of that which

which

contrary."

seemeth adverse and

In

effect this

is the

sort of

undergoing

which

complements
24. 25.
26.

the undertaking or

initiative

aspect

in that form

of experience

Works III: 424!'. From Advancement, Book I, Works III: 296, 272, From Advancement, Book II, Works III: 427.
317.

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


which

and

Hobbes

237

leads to science,

since the advantage which

from

adverse experience

depends

on

"the

exsct snd

industrious suffering draws distinct knowledge of the

precedent stste or

disposition."27

It is this undergoing thst is implied in the fsmous Bsconisn msxim: "Nsture to be commsnded must be which is the bssis of his clsim that "human knowledge and human power meet in one; for where the cause is not known
obeyed,"

the effect cannot be produced


cause

and

that which in contemplation is as the


correlation of cause-and-effect with

is in

operation as the

rule."28

This
point

means-and-end provides the as

knowledge

of effect

by

for Hobbes's conception of science starting of knowledge of cause or production, which I way
thst relstion

have

shown to

be

related

to a new sense of

of experience.
of

The bssis

of

possibility snd future-orientstion is to be found in Hobbes's elaboration


proceeding.'

Bscon's

germinal

idea

of

'pleasure in

In Hobbes this ides is

expsnded and

deepened in
or

an empirical
.

that is centered in the conception of conatus

'endeavor'

psychology Here the natural


is basic to

integration
Hobbes's
with

of

feeling

and

motive,

of plessure snd

appetite,
ss

which

account

of sensstion
of

snd

thinking

ss

well

willing, is snslyzed

insight. Instesd

sttempting to desl
the positive

with

the subtleties snd

difficulties

of

Hobbes's grasp
or

of mentsl processes

here,29

we csn content ourselves with of pleasure and active

one passage which reflects

interdependence
conatus

desire

pursuit,
act

not at

the subliminal level of


conceives of as

(that is, infinitesimal


and

impulses to
motives

which

Hobbes

competing

combining
of
Pesce,"

as

develop)

but

at

the level

of conscious striving.

In

chapter II of

Leviathan, Hobbes focuses

on

"the difference
together in

Manners,"

"those
To

qualities of man-kind thst concern their

living
of this

which end we are

to consider, that the

Felicity

life,

consisteth not

in the
nor

repose of a mind satisfied.

For there is

no such

Finis ultimus, (utmost aim,)

Summum Bonum, (greatest Good,) as is spoken of in the Books of the old Moral Philosophers. Nor can a man any more live, whose Desires are at an end, than he,
whose

Senses

and

Imaginations

are at a stand.

Felicity is
of

continual progress of the


still

desire, from
way to the

one object

to another; the attaining

the

former, being

but the

later.30

For Hobbes this


premise

predisposition

of

human

nature

leads to

fundamental

for the
and

establishment of political order: of all

"And therefore the voluntary


wsy."

actions,

to the sssuring of s contented

not only to the procuring, but slso differ only in the It may be surprising to have Hobbes's notorious phrase, "I put for a general

inclinations

men, tend,
snd

life;

27. 28.
29.

Works III:

434-

Novum Organum, Book

I, Aphorism
and

3, Works IV: 47.


Sensation,"

See my

essays,

"Hobbes's Causal Account


15-130, "Vico
and

of

Journal of the

History
of

Philosophy Epistemology
30.

18 (1980):

the

Continuity
and

of

Science: The Relation from this

of his

to Bacon and
p.

Hobbes,"

Isis

71

(1980): 609-20.

Leviathan,

160.

Spelling

modernized

here

in

subsequent quotations

work.

238

Interpretation
of all a

inclination
offered as

mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of Power after


on

power,"

gloss

'the

hsppiness.'

pursuit

of

This is in
the term

psrt

because
as

sinister construction

has been

put on

Hobbes's

'power'

use of

if it

meant coercive power over and concerns sn expansive

others,

where

'sense of

self.'31

his meaning is mainly psychological The general meaning of


'power'
power,"

in Hobbes,
future
msn

which

apparent

Good."32

holds in this context, is "present means, to obtain some as predicated of The desire of "Power after
the

in general,

reflects

desire to

assure

and

thus leads quite nsturslly to general

"the way of his future consent in a common coercive


order, as part of its basic
good

desire"

power

which can

keep

all

individuals in

awe and

function

as a power

for securing

present and

future

for those individuals.


character of

If

we

can

understand

how the

open-ended

human desire is further in

related

to the foundation of the state


pursuit of

for Hobbes,

we should gain of pursuit

sight

into the

hsppiness

snd

the hsppiness

thst sre pre

Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Civil pesce for Hobbes is the precondition of all meaningful human pursuits, and even the
supposed

by

psre

(Comattaining and keeping of pesce is conceived by him in terms of endesvor. Jefferson's "Peace is my passion.") The constituting of a common coercive power or

sovereignty
constant

releases

individuals from the


of

state

of

nature, that

is,

from the
rational
which

expectation

conflict, in that it

makes

it

safe

and

thus

to follow what
to seek

he

cslls

"the

first,

snd

Fundsmentsl Lsw

of

Nsture;

is,

Peace,

and follow

it.""

In Hobbes's
or general

thst which the


ought cannot
Wsr.'"

definition, "A Lsw of Nsture, (Lex Naturalis,) is s Precept, Rule, found out by Resson, by which s msn is forbidden to do is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving
In the
state
of nature

same."

the operative

rule

to endesvour
obtain

Pesce,

ss

fsr

ss

he hss hope
and

of all

is "'That every msn, obtsining it; snd when he

it,

that

he may seek,
own
Pesce"

use,

helps

and

sdvsntsges

of

It is

by

insight into their


endesvour

best interest in the


snd

long

run thst men certain

"sre

commsnded to

led to transfer rights

or alienate

nstursl rights
order

(Jus, "liberty

to

do,

or

to

forbesr")

to the common power,

in be in

better to enjoy snd thought of ss insliensble. "Whensoever


s msn

use other nstursl

which

Hobbes

ssys must

Trsnsferreth his Right,


thereby."

or

Renounceth it; it is

either

consideration of some
other good power

Right reciprocslly transferred to

himself;

or

for

some

he hopeth for sovereignty

By
a

conceiving

of

the constitution of

common natural

or

as

transfer or mutual renouncing of certain

liberties
of

on the part of all

individuals,
as

Hobbes introduces the deliberate fiction


with

the

'social

contract'

voluntary act,

the

proviso:

"and

of

the

31.

1976),
32.

pp.

See Hobbes, Thomas White's De Mundo Examined, trans. Harold Whitmore Jones (London, is rendered as 466-69, where
'potentia'

'potential'

Leviathan,

p.

150. 190.

33.

Leviathan,

p.

Following

paragraphs,

pp.

189, 192.

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


voluntary
acts of

and

Hobbes
himself."

239
A
contract

every

man, the object


of wills

is

some

Good

to

constitutes a mutual social contract

binding

or persistent endeavors
entered

over

time. The

is

sn open-ended

one,

into to

secure

future (sppsrent)
natural right

good, hoped for snd expected.

While

man, to this end,

can

be he

understood to give csnnot

up his
to

to the use of
right of

force, for

example,

be

understood

"lsy

down the
life."

resisting them, thst ssssult him by force, or tske swsy his Self-preservstion is sn insliensble right. But the life which is msde secure
sovereignty is
more

by

thsn mere existence. "The motive snd end


of

for

which

this renouncing snd

transferring
it."

the security of s msns person,

in his life,

Right is introduced, is nothing else but snd in the mesns of so preserving


the Nstursl Condition of Msn-

life,

ss not

to be wesry

of

In the preceding

chspter of

Leviathan, "Of
snd
which

kind,

ss

concerning their

Felicity,
in
snd

Misery,"

Hobbes hsd
no plsce

characterized

the

state of nature ss s condition

"there is

for Industry, becsuse


encline

the fruit thereof is


men

uncertsin,"

hsd concluded, "The Psssions that


of such
them."

to Peace are Fear

of

Death, Desire
Hope

things as are necessary to to obtain

commodious state makes

living,

and a

by

their

Industry

The

civil can

the

future

reliable

to the extent

that individual industriousness

be

motivsted

by
st

the expectstion of sttsining the goods of "commodious


efforts.

living"

through one's own

Similsrly,
with

the outset
where

of

the chspter,
speaks of

"Of the Office

of

the Sovereign

Representative,"

Hobbes

"the end, for

which

he

was trusted

peopl

the Sovereign

Power,

namely the

procuration of

the safety of the


also all other

he adds,

"By Safety
of

here is
which

not meant a

bsre Preservation, but

Contentments
or

life,

every

man

by

lawful Industry,
himself."

without

danger

hurt to the

Commonwrites

wealth, shall acquire to


"ssfety"

In

a parallel passsge
order to

in De Cive he

of end

ss

the

preservstion sssemble

of

life "in

its

hsppiness. For to this


government, thst

did

men

freely

themselves snd institute s

they

might, ss much ss their human condition would afford,

live

delightfully."34

At the

same

time Hobbes

holds that
than

government

"can

confer no

more

to

[its subjects']
civil wars,

civil

happiness,

that

being

preserved

from foreign
purchased

and

they

may quietly enjoy that

wealth

which

they have
stipulates

by
is
a

industry."

their own

Moreover, in Leviathan Hobbes


not

that "this

intended
general

should

be done,

by
in

care
public

applied

to Individuals
.

...

but

by

Providence,

contsined

Instruction,
persons

snd

in the msking,
own

snd

esses."35

executing of good Lsws, to Government should provide for the hsppiness


which

individual

msy spply their

of the people

only

by

msking There have been


34.
35.

their pursuits secure.


several attempts

recently to
13,
para. 4.

show

the importance of Hobbes

Leviathan,
Leviathan,

p.

376, cf. De

Cive.

ch.

p. 376.

240

Interpretation

for the
with

founding

of the
with

American

republic.

The affinity

of principles

is

greater

Hobbes than

Locke

or

the

classical republican

tradition,

and extends

only to Hamilton, Madison and the Federalist, but slso, snd quite centrally, Declaration. One could pursue this affinity further with to Jefferson and the regard to natural equity, inalienable rights, and the civil (not natural) basis
not
of

property, for to the

which

Hobbes is the indispensable

source of

ideas that

proved

crucial

conception of point

the republic realized through the Revolution.


stste
not

The like
s

essentisl nstural

here is thst the

for Hobbes
ss
survivsl

secures ss

something
the goods

right

to endesvor, to life
one object

but

"a continusll

progresse of

the

desire, from
consensus,

snother."

to

By definition,
could not snyone else.

thst sre the object of this 'pursuit of the stste or


of

hsppiness'

be determined
clear

by

by

or

by

snyone

for

implication

Hobbes's

conception of

desire is that
good

even

the individual concerned cannot

determine,
and

once and

for all, the


part of

that he pursues, for

defining

our ends

interests is itself

the pursuit, of experience seen as endeavor.


to many, reflects s psrsdox in

A further
conception

implication, disturbing
in his

Hobbes's desire is

of endesvor

empiricsl psychology.

The

object of

the efficient csuse of


rather

desire,

that

is, desire is

a passion

or passive response

than s voluntsry sction, yet objects are not desired

becsuse they
not

sre

good

but

good on

but insight
experience.

Hobbes's psrt,

becsuse desired. This circulsrity since it reflects an


of this

represents undenisble

inconsistency
of

festure
It

humsn

Recognition

circulsrity in

experience

is

sn essentisl

fsctor in

the relstivism proper to true tolerance of


sn openness

diversity

of vslues.

slso supports

to the

future

which

snticipstes

thst goods snd gosls unknown

to the present

will emerge

from humsn
of

sctivity.
of

With their

spprecistion

the
s

interdependence

pursuit

snd

plessure,

Bscon

snd

Hobbes introduced

Dewey
trait

and other pragmatists, to

tendency, later brought to full fruition by relativize the distinction between means and

ends, and to

deny

the

has been
to

noted

intrinsic superiority and the in the Jeffersonian conception


criticism

fixity
of

of ends.

similar and

human

practice

submitted

sustsined
"

For Dsniel Boorstin


reticent snd
36.

in The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson. Jeffersonisns [sre] men immersed in sction, who were
sctivity."37

inexplicit

sbout the ends of their own

In

whst

Boorstin

See the essay cited in note 18, which was first given as a paper in 1976 at the Bicentennial of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Frank M. Coleman, Hobbes and America: Exploring the Constitutional Foundations (Toronto, 1977) has a critical, but superficial

Meeting
and

A far better treatment leveling view both of Hobbes and of the 'constitutional is George Mace, Locke, Hobbes, and the Federalist Papers: An Essay on the Genesis of the American Political Heritage (Carbondale, 1979), which claims that Hobbes is more relevant than Locke not only for Madison and Hamilton but for Jefferson as well. See my reviews of these two
works and of

foundations.'

Richard Tuck, Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin

and

1979), in The Eighteenth Century: A


on

Current Bibliography,

n.s.

6, for

1980.

Development (Cambridge, Tuck is illuminating


was

Hobbes, but
Rousseau.
37.

mistaken

in contending that the influence

of natural

rights theory

finished

by

from

pp.

The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (Boston, i960), p. 148. Subsequent 149, 197, 199L, 53, and 226. See also pp. 198, 203, 214 and 239s.

quotations are

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


sees as s new sort of
ment,38

and

Hobbes

241

theodicy, actually
explsined

one characteristic of the Englightennot ss

"the Jeffersonian

evil,

intended

to msgnify good, but

ss

designed

indirectly

to promote

sctivity."

Boorstin links this


moving."

orientstion with
of men politicsl

prsgmstism, but

sees

it

ss s spirit which

"stifled the very desire "Jeffersonisn

to know the gosl towsrd which


science
. .

they

were

was

not concerned with

duties

because it has left the


in
nature."

moral ends of

the

human community vaguely implicit


of

Boorstin

notes

thst "concepts

the 'public

interest'
. . .

were

political but construes this simply strikingly as an inadvertent flaw, not s deliberate revision of republicsnism. Clsiming that "Jefferson never seriously suggested that cosmopolitanism and breadth of
absent
mind might

from Jeffersonian

thought,"

fit

a msn

to

discover the

society,"

proper ends of premise

Boorstin fsils
political

to recognize

thst Jefferson had

discarded the

of classical

thought that the proper ends of

society

could and should

be determined.
of

Similsrly
humsnistic
perhaps

Boorstin finds

"strikingly

little discussion
individusl"

hsppiness in the
Jefferson

sense of the

because

by

'humanistic'

well-being of the Boorstin

in Jeffersonisn writing,
while

means was

'normative',

felt that setting "unique


of

goals of
which

individual
Boorstin

pursuit

individual"

accuses

him

of

precisely ignoring. "Even the

the concern of the


concept

Boorstin clsims, virtuslly emptied of its personsl but this rsther reflects s Jeffersonisn tendency to define hsppiness only formslly in public terms since its mesning wss to be just
was
'personsl'

hsppiness

thst.39

A tug-of-wsr between

public service snd privste


csreer.

fulfilment is
sssured that

projected

in

Jefferson's letters throughout his done his


If
part

For example,

he has

now

for his country, he


in
some

writes to

Monroe in 1782,
in
a greater are we made

we are made
were

degree for others,


and

yet

for

ourselves.
right

It

contrary to

feeling
his
.

indeed

ridiculous

to

suppose a man

has less
would

in

himself than
and not that
changed.40

one of

neighbors or all of

them put together.

This

liberty

for

the

preservation of which our government

be slavery has been

38.

dizee,"

ment

E.g. Immanuel Kant, "Ueber das Misslingen aller philosophischen Versuche in der Theoin Werke, ed. W. Weischedel (Darmstadt, 1966), VI: 105-24, which follows up the argu Werke VI: 85-102, esp. pp. 92, ioif., of "Mutmasslicher Anfang der
Menschengeschichte,"

that justifies the loss of Eden

on

these

grounds.

The

moral order of the world

is

not

to be judged

by

contemplative reason,
reality.

of the
man's

relation

standing back from its entanglements, since our obligation to act is part theodicy, As already for Leibniz, and for Johnson as a critic of to providence must be practical not intellectual. See my essays, "Readings of
'philosophical' Moral'

Rasselas: 'Its Most Obvious


no.

and
and

the Moral Role of

Literature,"

1/2,

(Spring

1976):
of

17-39,

"Johnson and Hume Considered

Enlightenment Essays 7, as the Core of a New


on the

Concept'

Enlightenment,'

'Period
In his

the
on

Transactions of the Fifth International Congress Eighteenth Century, 190),


Heart,"

Enlightenment I (Studies
39.

Voltaire

and the and

pp.

189-96.

dialogue, "My Head


emphasizes

My
for

in the

context

of a

defense
on

of

American

sociability,

Jefferson

the

respect

privacy:

"There is

not a

country

earth, where

there is
attentive

greater

tranquility;

where the

laws

are milder, or

better obeyed;

others."

to his own

business,
447.

or meddles

less

with

that of

where every one is more To Maria Cosway, October

12, 1786, Papers


40.

X:

May

20, 1782, Papers VI: i8sf.

242
That

Interpretation
essentially
private.

liberty is

It is the
who

liberty

which

entered

the world

of political

thought with

Hobbes,

derived it both from


personsl

nstursl right snd

from 'the

silence of

the lsws'. In Montesquieu this

liberty,

secured

by

civil

tion of

lsw, hss become 'politicsl liberty'. The clsssicsl republicsn identifica liberty with political life in the sense of dedication to the public good
reversed. or sscrifice of privste or

has been completely


the suppression

The very idea of a public welfsre thst interest hss become


conception of

requires

questionsble.41

The [Spsrtsn
philosophical petite

Roman]

republican

virtue,

like the

stoic

conception, is defined

by

its

antagonism

to just the sort of ap

that is celebrated as basic to human life

by Bacon,

Hobbes

and

their

Enlightenment 'followers'. Desire, fed


proliferation

by
of

an active

imsginstion, lesds to the


process

of artificial of the

needs.

Instead
and

seeing this

as

threat to

the

integrity

personality

attempting to undermine it

by

an

internal

discipline
inent

an approach which

Rousseau

adopted at certain points

most prom

writers of

the Enlightenment affirmed the open-ended chsrscter of

desire

snd urged snd socisl

thst it be controlled snd corrected only


intercourse.42

in

snd through experience

The ongoing

socisl constitution of selfhood was not

only

finally

appreciated as a

fact,

as a

determinability
provided

that could not

be

avoided
open-

by

any

absolutization of

autonomy, but the socially interdependent


the self the basis for a

and

ended experiential character of

profound

under-

stsnding Pursuit includes


sistance,
which

of

individuslity.
sn

element of
gives s

effort, the meeting and overcoming of re


vslue

itself

certsin

to sctivity.

Lessing
wrote:

represented

this Enlightenment sense of endesvor or enterprise when he

Not the truth in

whose possession

has

made to

find

out the

through the possession

any man is, or thinks he is, but the honest effort he truth, is what constitutes the worth of a man. For it is not but through the inquiry after truth that his powers expand, and
ever

in this

alone consists

his

growing

perfection.

Possession

makes

calm,

lazy,

proud.43

The 'hsppiness
snticipstion of s

pursuit'

of

gosl, but

also

certsinly borrows something from the plessursble involves enjoyment of the effort itself.
can

The

pursuit

of

happiness

be

misconstrued

as

chase

after

an

ever

receding
of

goal
or

pursuit,
41.

only if one identifies hsppiness with the end, the cessstion, what Hobbes termed "the repose of s mind It makes
Leviathan,
pp.

satisfied

In

chapter 21 of

266f., Hobbes
of

shows

that the
of

'liberty'

which

is

celebrated power

by

the classical republican tradition is not that


or

individuals, but

states, their constituted

"to resist,
ment of

invade

people."

other

In

Athens, for
subjected

example, was

country
the

to them.

That

of

October 31, 1823, Jefferson wrote, "The govern that of the people of one city making laws for the whole Lacedaemon [Sparta] was the rule of monks over
a

letter

of

laboring

class of the people, reduced to abject


of

slavery."

Writings XV:

"The Critique

Classical Republicanism
Clio 9 in

and

the

Vico's New
42. 43.

Science,"

Understanding

of

military 482. See my paper, Modem Forms of Polity in

(Spring
in

1980): 393-418.

See the "Eine

essays cited

note 38 preceding. ed.

Duplik,"

Lessing, Werke,

H. G. Gopfert (Munich, 1970-79), VIII:

32f.

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


a great ss as a

and

Hobbes

243

difference

whether one

sees

desire in

s negstive or s positive pssssge

state

opposed to or akin to

fulfilment. In the

quoted,

light, Lessing,

a good

Leibnizian,
denial is
of

conceived of perfection as

an

open-ended progressive

quality, a

the perfected, closed off,

finished;44

this

idea

of perfectio

as a process

characteristic of

the Enlightenment.
could

Pssssges embodying this

perspective or

be

cited

from Montesquieu,

Diderot,
or crucisl

even

Roussesu, from Johnson


well as

Burke

ss well ss

Hume, from Schiller


considered
charac-

Herder

ss

Lessing.

But there is
poses

one

figure, ususlly
to

to the

Enlightenment,
conative

who

sn obstscle

to this general

terizstion:

Locke. The
and

psychology that

was so essential

empiricism

in Bacon
sre

Hobbes,

fsr less

evident

and the corresponding conception of humsn nsture, in Locke thsn in Leibniz. This is psrticulsrly importsnt

for the topic


as

under consideration

here becsuse Locke has been


of
'pursuit'

claimed

the prime source of


with

Jefferson's idea

the pursuit of happiness.


will

recently A consn spt

frontstion

this opposing interpretstion of

provide

conclusion.

III.

'HAPPINESS'

VS. PURSUIT

In

Inventing

America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence,

Gsrry

Wills

devotes
of

s chapter to

snslyzing the term


ss

'pursuit', giving
phrase

emphssis

to "elements

determination
pursuit

necessity,"

snd

in the

"'necessity
this
one

determines to
a

bliss.'"

the

of

His

main

source of examples,

included, is

single

chapter

from Locke's
and not

Essay
the

work, Wills suggests,

political

concerning Human Understanding. This treatises, was the significant Locke

for the

eighteenth

century, the one who

formed

a triad with

Bacon

and

Newton.
on

model'

A 'Newtonian

determines the

conception

of pursuit

focused

by

Wills,

the csussl
moved chapter

necessitstion

of a universal gravitation
desire.45

of wills

that are ir-

resistably In the
of

by

the objects of

'Necessary'

headed

from the
'

phrase

"when in the course thst "the Decla-

human

rstion's

Wills it becomes necessary down the Newtonisn. It lsys opening is


events

claimed

lsw."

Out
The

and of a sequence of observed results, a pattern emerges,


revolution of

is

stated as a

law.
it.46

the colonies, like the revolving of

heaven's bodies, is
come

a process

open

to

scientific observation and

description. Jefferson has


of

to

describe

44.

emphasize

this

neglected

aspect

Leibniz in

review

in

Eighteenth-Century Studies
pp. 511-16. quotes

12,

no. 45. 46.

3 (Spring Inventing America, Inventing America,

1979): 433-38. p. p. 241

Contrast

Hamowy

(note 7 preceding),
'pursuit'

94

In his discussion

of

Wills

telling

passage

from Bacon's Advancement. "It is order, poursuite. sequence, and interchange of application, But Wills reduces the laws of nature, including those of the 'state which is mighty in or mechanics far too literally to catch the liveliness and power of physics laws of to of
the
original metaphor.

244

Interpretation
devotes that
chapter to
as a

Accordingly Wills
losophy'

discussion
explanation

of

'mechanical

phi

in the

eighteenth

century,

if in

of the

Declaration's

opening.

In

an

earlier psper

I hsve srgued,
of

on

the contrary, thst this reference to

'necessity'

in the

course

humsn

events

is

sn sppeal

to the law of nature


sn

in the
vidusl

sense

of the nstursl right of self-preservstion ,


s people

spplied not to

indi

but to

in thst 'state

nature'

of

that prevails between nations.

In the

same vein

Alexander Hamilton hsd

srgued

esrlier, in Hobbesisn terms,


sre

thst "when the

first

principles

of civil
. .

society
msy

violsted,

snd

the rights

of s whole people sre

invsded,

men

then

betske themselves to the

lsw

of nsture. might note

We

stone snd

in psssing that Hamilton adopts this srgument from Blackcontrasts it with doctrines supposedly tsken by his opponent Sesbury
'Mr.
Hobbes'

from the
no

sinister

This

should suggest

how Hobbes

csme

to hsve

overt

influence in
or

Revolutionsry Americs,

although or

through

Priestley

Blackstone, Hume, Hutcheson


the case with

Locke

his ideas, working and often in a


had
a

direction that

cut across also

the main tendencies of these writers

decisive
neces

impact. This is
sitation

Locke's

conception

of the

causal

thst determines

'pursuit', for Locke's


Wills

mechsnics of motivstion

derives

directly, but tscitly, from Hobbes.


I
the
would not
will'

dissgree

when

claims that

Locke's denial
to an

of

'freedom

of

is

not

only

consistent with

but

material

As he says, "The

will

is determined

by

its

object."

understanding of pursuit. There is, however, a subtle

but important difference in the way this ides is taken by Hobbes and by Locke, leading to a major difference in their conceptions of pursuit. Locke
understands motivation

principally in terms

of

'uneasiness',

that

is, in

negative

terms:

What determines

the will?

Action, is only
uneasiness:

the present satisfaction

The motive, for continuing in the same State in it; The motive to change is always

or

some

but

some

nothing setting us upon the change of State, or upon any new Action, uneasiness. This is the great motive that works on the Mind to put it upon
will.4"

Action, [i.e.] determining of the In the

long

chapter

'Of Power',

on which

adopts a quasi-Hobbesian conception of


snd

Wills bases his argument, Locke motivation, but deprived of the open
'endeavor'

forwsrd-urging

quality that

characterizes

in Hobbesian

psy-

47.
quoted

See the beginning of the essay cited in note iS preceding. The passage from Hamilton is in Gerald Stourzh, Alexander Hamilton and the Idea of Republican Government (Stanford,
p. cf.

pp. 15-22. In a letter to J. B. Colvin. September 1970), 10, 20, 1810, Writings XII: 419, Jefferson says, "The law of self-preservation authorizes the distressed to take a supply of

force. In

all

these cases, the unwritten


written

laws

of necessity,
"

of

self-preservation, and

of

the public

safety, control the


48. 249.

laws

of meum and

tuum

that

is,

civil

laws

of property.

This is

within

An Essay concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch (Oxford. 1979), p. para. 29 of Book II, Ch. 21, to which further references will be made by paragraph parentheses in the text. On 'uneasiness', para. 31-34.

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


chology.

and

Hobbes

245

For Hobbes

conatus

is

not reducible

to a self-preservative urge nor

is it

regulated

by

an

essentially

negative 'uneasiness-principle'.49

The determinist
more restrictive

implications

of

the causal conception of motivation thus are

fsr

in Locke thsn in

Hobbes,
revised

implications. He

Locke himself is clesrly not happy with such the chspter st several stsges in later editions, intro
snd

ducing
with

different

conception of

freedom,

which

is mixed,

most

uncomfortsbly,

the residue of the


new

Hobbesisn
msy

conception.

The
model

spprosch

seem to

complicste, but in fsct bresks with, the

tsken from mechsnics or grsvitstion theory, snd it does this

by

intro

ducing
pulling
stoics contrast

the notion that the mind can suspend motives that are weighing or
on

it. This is

variant

of

the epoche

which

classical

sceptics

and

claimed

to be able to exercise on their own passions and desires. In


whom

to

Hobbes, then, for


result
of

cumulstive

the process of
and

is simply the lsst desire, the deliberation ss a libration of competing


the will
motive objects
or

(mutually
sction,

corrective
sees

interacting)
ss

projected

courses

of

Locke
while

the will

"perfectly

distinguished from

desire"

(30).

Thus,
the

will,'

it msy seem s plsusible msxim that 'the greatest good determines Locke concludes "that good, the greater good, though apprehended be so, does
makes us

and acknowledged to

proportionably In the maxim


'good'

to

it,

determine the will, until our desire, (35). uneasy in the want of
not
it"

raised

which

Locke is correcting, the Hobbesian


'good'

relativist

definition
good'

of

was presupposed: which exerted

wss

whst wss

desired,

the 'grester
a new

thst

the grester sttrsction (cf.


a

42). Locke has introduced


from
without, and this
either

normative

element,

determination

'good'

of

is decisive
see this or

for

all those passages cited

by
an

Wills, though Wills

fails to

omits

to

acknowledge

it. Wills 's interpretation is thus damaged because Locke


about opposition

has in

effect

brought

between his idess

'hsppiness'

of

snd pursuit.

"Wherever there is uneasiness, there is

desire,"

writes

Locke, "for
so shows

we con

stantly desire hsppiness; is certain, we want [i.e.

and

whatever of

we

feel

of

uneasiness,

much,

it

happiness"

lack]

(39). This

more

than

Locke is from any idea of the happiness of pursuit. Locke sees in the unavoidsble concern with hsppiness the possibility of leverage to mske a predominating determinant of the whst he considers to be 'the grestest

how

removed

will, that

is,

a more constant cause of uneasiness.


constant

"How much soever Men sre

in
as

earnest,

snd
use

in

pursuit

of

hsppiness.

[Wills
a

cites
clear or

this statement
view of

the

first
and

of

the

formula];

yet

they msy have


concern'd

good,

great

confessed

good,

without

being

for it
it"

moved

by it,

(43). if they think they csn mske up their hsppiness without In the preceding psrsgrsph Locke hsd resffirmed the Hobbesisn
"Whst
49.

perspective.
. .

hss

sn sptness to produce
writers

Plessure in
and

us

is

thst we csll
confuse

'good',
his
use of

for

Many

on

Hobbes, from Dilthey

Tonnies on,

the term

with that of

Spinoza,

who conflates conatus with the urge to self-preservation.

246
no other

Interpretation
resson, but for its
happiness"

sptness

to produce Plessure
spparent

in us,

wherein

consists our sistent


with

(42). It is

that this can only

be

made con

the succeeding paragraph if we understand that the "grest snd

good"

confessed

is

rsther

known to be
someone else

apt

to

produce grest

hsppiness

not

to

the one
for'

concerned

but to

(like

Locke)

who

'knows

whst's good

the

other person. sbout

Locke is in fsct tslking possibility


the
of s nonetheless

lukewsrm Christisns who, "sstisfied

of

the
sre

perfect, secure,
moved

snd

lssting

hsppiness in

future
wants

stste,"

"not

good."

by

this greater apparent


stand

He

them to use

stoic-sceptic

capacity to
so
as

back from the

motives

that are actually


pursuit of

working
and solid

on

them,

to achieve "a careful


another of

and

constant

true

happiness"

(51,

Wills's examples, torn from its


constant

context).

They

must

not

only interrupt but break through the


the
main

determination
in

of pursuit.

Wills
similate

elides

bent

of

Locke's

composite

approach

order

to as

to the 'Newtonian
all

model'

the attraction
should

which

ultimate good

bliss

beyond
will. with

earthly pursuits "Freedom is the


'msss'

cspscity,"

(but evidently does not) exert on the human Wills writes, "to resist the pull of things
grest

smsll

of

hsppiness but
'resl'

proximity,

in

order

to be true
snd solid
would

hsppiness."

to the ultimste gosl of


hsppiness'

Although
of

remote,

'true

should exert a greater pull

because

its magnitude, Wills


overlook

have the
model

model no
as

imply. But then he


of

must
such

simply
a

the

fact that this is here


used

has

'should'

"'Pursuit'

way

accommodating

[he claims]
gives that can

response

to the gravitational

the push-pull pain-pleasure world

tug of a determining object. In Locke describes, the attraction of happiness


of

constant, that determination


a science of no

reality,

on

the basis of which one

build
make

human

motion."50

objection to

such a program

of

'human

science'

In

an earlier

essay I maintained that Hobbes's a denial of 'free far more


will'

conception of

motivation,

which

leads him to

consistent than that of

Locke,
of

also provides

a sound

basis for understanding


attractive and

and

improving

human

freedom.51

But Hobbes's
motive such of
world"

view of the social world on

the model of a mechanics

interacting

forces,
as

repulsive, is not a "push-pull pain-pleasure


was

Locke describes. Locke

only led to

posit

his

second

conception

freedom because his


man

own version of motivation-modelled-on-mechanics

made

seem more the victim of experience. application and of the concept of mind

Hobbes,
and

on the

contrary,
of

with

his

'endesvor'

parallel

in his

sdsptation

Galilean
of

mechanics

in his

analysis

motivation

in terms

'inner

motions', far from reducing the lstter to the


50. 51.
esp. pp.

former,

showed

how freedom

Inventing America,
"Materialism
202ff.
and

p. 242.

Freedom,'

Studies in

Eighteenth-Century

Culture 7 (1978): 193-212,

The Pursuit of Happiness in Jefferson, Bacon


could snd
must

and

Hobbes

247

be

understood

ss

adequate

determination

of our motives

by

our experience and of our actions

by

our

motives.52

In this respect,
as

as

in others, Leibniz
critical

was

is

evident

in his

responses

to

very Locke

much a and to

follower

of

Hobbes,
moti-

Samuel Clarke. The


mechanics snd

'endeavor'

point of
vstion

the

concept out

in the analogy between

is nicely brought

by

one of

his

snswers to the

lstter:

properly speaking, motives do not act upon the mind, as weights do upon a balance; but it is rather the mind that acts by virtue of the motives, which are its dispositions to
act.

And therefore to pretend,

as

the author

does here, that the

mind

prefers sometimes weak motives to

strong ones, and even that it prefers that which is indifferent before motives; this, I say, is to divide the mind from the motives, as if

they

were outside

the mind

and as

if it

the mind

had, besides

motives, other
motives."

dispositions to act,

by

virtue of which

could reject or accept the

Where Locke
apprehend

maintains

ourselves

that, "whilst we are under any uneasiness, we cannot happy, or in the way to it; pain and uneasiness being,
and

by

every one,

concluded

felt to be inconsistent
to the

happiness"

with

Leibniz

counters that
never

"it is

essential

happiness

of created
would

(36), beings; their


mske

hsppiness insensste
greater

consists

in

complete

sttsinment,

which

them

and

stupefied, but in continual and

uninterrupted

progress

towards

goods."

The

consistent

Hobbesian

conception of

freedom
grounded

not

from but through the


concept

determinstion
thus

of our motives snd

sctions, ss
of

in the

'endeavor', its
ans-

fully

anticipates

Jefferson's idea

the pursuit of happiness and

logues in the Continentsl Enlightenment. Initiative and risk-taking are as es sential to this sense of endeavor as is being determined or driven. In his
Heart,"

dialogue, "My Head


possibility
the
second

and

My
positive

Jefferson

counterposes

calculation

of

against

enthusiasm, relsting the first to the effort to svoid psin, plessure,


snd

to the urge to

hss the Hesrt

claim

credit

Necessity"

52.
would

In "Of
make

Liberty

and

Hobbes

answers

the charge that

his

view of

human

action

deliberation

or consultation useless:

"It is the

consultation

that causeth a man, and

necessitateth

him to
and

choose

to do one

thing
vain

rather than

another,

and therefore consultation

is

not

in

vain,

indeed the less in


ed. of

by

how

much

the election is more 1962), p.


256.

nece

Hobbes, Body, Man, and Citizen, that Schiller, in a critical inversion


of

R. S. Peters (New

York,

I have

argued

Kantian transcendentalism,

arrives at a similar

identification

freedom

and

determination, "The

Morality

of the

Sublime: Kant

Schiller,"

and

Studies in

Romanticism 19 (Winter 1980): 497-514, esp. pp. 5i3f. Clarke's Fourth 53. Para. 15 of Leibniz's answer to

Reply, Leibniz, Selections,


Leibniz's continuity
and

ed.

Philip

P. Wiener (New York, 1951), in "The Separation of Reason

p.

241

I touch

on this aspect of
and

with

Hobbes

Leibniz,"

and

Faith in Bacon

Hobbes,

the

Theodicy

of

1981): 607-28. See Leibniz, Journal of the History of Ideas 42. no. 4 (October-December, Remnant and Jonathan Bennett (Cambridge, New Essays on Human Understanding, tr. Peter
'uneasiness'
'endeavor'

1981), pp.
or

169,

172 and

186, on

and

pp

164-66,

183

and

188-89

on

'disquiet'.

248

Interpretation
success of

for the
the

the Revolution: "We put our existence to the

hszsrd,

when

hazard

seemed sgsinst

us, snd

we ssved our

country."54

Even before the Revolution he hsd derived the


emigration, "rights thus acquired
fortunes."

colonists'

rights

from their
of

at

the hazard of their lives and loss


responded

their
'plus

Esrly

settlers

of

the New World hsd

to the call

ultra,'

which

drew them beyond the limits known


politicsl world.

of settled

experience, the Straits

of

Gibrsltsr
of

of the

In

s sense

they hsd

sought out a

'state
a

nsture'

in exercising
has
given to all men, of
of

right, which nature


not

departing

from the country in

which

chance,

choice, has placed them,


new

there establishing
seem most

societies,

under

going in such laws

quest of new

habitations,
as, to

and of
shall

and regulations

them,

likely

to promote public

happiness.55

A nstursl, inslienable
venture.

right

to the pursuit

of

happiness

was

affirmed

in their

Cosway, October 12, 1786, Papers X: 451. Jefferson is clearly both 'heart'; his richly ambivalent relation to stoicism needs further study. Sec his letter to John Adams, April 8, 1816, Writings XIV: 467.
54.
'head'

To Maria

and

55.

"A

Summary

View

of

the

Rights

of

British

America,"

Papers I:

122.

The Lion A

and

the Ass:
on

Commentary

the Book of Genesis (Chapters 35-37)

Robert Sacks
St. John's College, Annapolis
and

Santa Fe

CHAPTER XXXV

I.

AND GOD SAID UNTO

JACOB, ARISE, GO

UP TO

BETH-EL,

AND DWELL THERE:

AND MAKE THERE AN ALTAR UNTO

GOD,

THAT APPEARED UNTO THEE WHEN

THOU FLEDDEST FROM THE FACE OF ESAU THY BROTHER.

What he learned in the city the scene of his dream. It now


tions announced
cision

of

Shechem forced Jacob to


to him
ss though

return under

to

Beth-el,
condi

sppesrs

life

the

in the dresm

will not

be

possible.

By

virtue of

their circum

the Hivites hsd become followers of the New

Wsy,

snd their murder

constituted return

the fratricide which Jacob had hoped to avoid. Jacob is


of

forced to
the mes

to the scene

the

former dream

hoping

that God

would make

sage of the

first dream

more explicit.

2.

THEN JACOB SAID UNTO HIS

HOUSEHOLD, AND TO ALL THAT WERE WITH

HIM,

PUT AWAY THE STRANGE GODS THAT ARE AMONG

YOU,

AND BE

CLEAN,

AND CHANGE YOUR GARMENTS:

Jacob begins his

journey

back to Beth-el

by having

his house

put

their strange gods and cleanse themselves.


of

It may be that he surely


which

suspected

away Rachel

being

in

possession of

Labsn's

gods snd

wss aware of the relation

ship between that four.

difficulty
is the is

snd the trouble

he

ssw

in Chspter

Thirty-

Cleansing,
tary

which

antidote

for defilement

as

discussed in the

commen wsys

to Gen. 34:11,

accomplished

in

a combination of at

least three cleansing

wster, time, snd

sscrifice. verse:

One

of the

fundamental

ways of

appears

in the

following

And

upon whatsoever
whether

any of them,
vessel

when

they

are

dead,
must

doth fall, it
or skin,

shall

be

unclean;

it be any

or sack,

whatsoever

vessel

it be,

wherein until

any
the

work

of wood, is done, it
even;
so

or raiment,

be

put

into

water,

and

it

shall

be

unclean

it

shall

be

cleansed

(Lev.

11:32).

Cleansing
is

is done

by

washing in

water as

in the days

of

the Flood.

Only

water, in its

kinship

to chaos, is
object

sufficient

to carry away
not con

with

it everything

which

superfluous.

The

itself, however, is

sidered clean until

evening, that

strange moment when

distinctions become less


the light

real. and

Evening,

which

had

arisen

by

itself

as an uncreated mixture of

the darkness and had been

considered

the

beginning

of

the world's

inability

250
to

Interpretation
confines, now, precisely because
of

remain within clear

its

undefined chsr

scter, provides

We had
when we

our

for the possibility of s chsnge in character. first glimpse of the double role that water is
considering the Philistines and their
men,

capable of

were

relation

to David

playing in the

commentsry to Gen. 23:1. Those respect for the Ark ss well ss the
nificance of water
which

lately

come

from the ses, tsught Dsvid

stood at
of

srt of wsr. We shall return to the double sig in the commentary to Gen. 49:10 by considering the lions the base of the great lsvsbo thst held the wsters of sblution

in front
bear

Solomon's Temple.
csnnot

Often things

be

clesnsed

immedistely
unclean

snd

time is required: But

if she
days

a maid child,

then she shall

be

two weeks, as in

her

separation:

and she shall continue

in the blood of her purifying threescore

and six

(Lev.

12:5).

Cleansing

is the

opposite

of

defilement,
of
used

which

we

discussed in the

com

mentary to Gen. 34:11. In the Book to describe the pure gold which was

Exodus it is

used over and over again

to make the utensils for the Tent of

Meeting
Mai.
state.

and

the Ark itself (see Ex. Chapters 22 and 28). In this context the

word pure means refined

by

fire

until all of

the

dross has been


not gold

removed

(see

3:3).

The

gold

used

for the Ark is


used

intentionally

in its

natural

Purified is

gold

had to be

in

nature

a mixture and

in making the Ark because gold as found hence not adequate for man. Partly for these reasons
to thst world of mixtures, especislly line must be drawn between that world shsrp sacrifice becomes possible.

and

psrtly becsuse

of most men's resction

during

the time of sscrifice, a

and the artful world

in

which

Defilement in itself is
must

never considered sinful. grestest

It is

part of

the

world and

be lived

with.

The

sin,

however, is

to confuse the two reslms


such an

by
act

psrtsking in the sscrificisl meal while in a state of defilement. For there is no cleansing: there is only banishment (see Lev. 7:21).
AND LET US ALTAR UNTO

3.

ARISE, AND GO UP TO BETH-EL;

AND I WILL MAKE THERE AN

GOD, WHO ANSWERED ME IN THE DAY OF MY

DISTRESS,

AND

WAS WITH ME IN THE WAY WHICH I WENT.

Jacob
went.

will

now

return

to the God who was

with

me

in the

way

which

I It

Jacob's

manner of

describing
lay

God

at

this

point

is

somewhat curious.

seems almost to

indicate that God has been


path which of ahead of

following
and

man.

Up

to

now

Jscob
That

has followed the

him

God has
which

come along. met

wsy led to the city


4.

Shechem

snd

the

difficulties

Jscob

there.

AND THEY GAVE UNTO JACOB ALL THE STRANGE GODS WHICH WERE IN THEIR

HAND,

AND ALL THEIR EARRINGS WHICH WERE IN THEIR

EARS;

AND

JACOB HID THEM UNDER THE OAK WHICH WAS BY SHECHEM.

gods.

Before returning to Beth-el Jscob purifies his house by burying their strange There sppesrs to be s reference here to Chspter Thirty-one. Jscob, st

The Lion
lesst
st

and the

Ass

251

this point, suspects thst

Lsbsn's

gods were
with

indeed

stolen

by

one of

his

household. He buried these


spesk

gods

together

the esrrings

of which we will

in

s moment under the oak which was of

by Shechem.
indicate the
exis and

The
tence

use

the

definite

srticle

is

peculisr snd seems to

of a psrticular snd

fsmous

oak near

Shechem,

indeed there

was such

an osk. most of

tions of

spesking it wss s very old osk which lasted throughout Israel's history. Following its history in msny of the English transi the Bible is, however, sometimes confusing becsuse the word for oak
translated/?/^.
ss one csn

Drsmsticslly

is

often

So fsr
wss

tell the

oak under which

Jscob buried the


sltsr

strange gods

the osk of Moreh where

Abrsm built his first

to the Lord sfter he

left Haran. And Abram


and

to

12:6).

passed through the land unto the place of Shechem Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land (Gen. of Moses uses the osk of Moreh as a signpost when he gives the people

the

oak

directions to Mount Gerizim

and

Mount Ebel (Deut. 11:3),

and

it

was under

this tree that Joshua wrote and set up the Book of the Lord (Josh. 24:24). In
spite of all of

these noble enterprises the


came to the surface.

foreign

gods which
of

lay

buried
whose

under

this tree
wss

finally

Abimelech,
The
after osk

the son

Gideon,

story

told in the commentsry to Gen. 34:11, wss crowned

king by

the oak of the

pillar that was

in Shechem (Judg.
that

9:6).

becomes

even more significsnt

when one remembers

immediately

the crowning of

King Abimelech,
see also the com

Jothsm

gsve

his fsmous

psrsble of

the trees, which is perhsps the most theo

reticsl srgument sgainst

kingship

in the Bible (Judg. 9:7-15;

mentary to Earrings

Gen.
slso

34:11).

plsy

s seessw role

in the development

of

the Bible. The gold

from
wss

esrrings wss used also used

by

by Asron to build the Golden Cslf (Ex. 32:2), but it Bezaleel to build the Ark (Ex. 35:22). The last-time they
connection with the

are mentioned

is in

Ephod

which

Gideon

msde sfter

he

hsd

refused
a

the kingship.
unto

The Ephod is then


and unto

referred

to ss s

thing

which

became

snare

Gideon

collected enough of the people

into

one

his house (Judg. 8:27). It msy hsve group to hsve msde Abimelech 's king
people

ship possible, lech 's


power

snd

its

power

smong the

certsinly

gsve

force to Abime

contention thst

if he
s

were not msde

king

the sons of Gideon would tske

(Judg. 9:2). In

have

set a precedent

slightly lsrger context Gideon's privste Ephod may for the private Ephod of Micah which played such an im
of the

portant part

in the decline

Jubilee Year. It led to the first


all gathered

private wor

of the

ship away from the people, who were to have Lord (see commentary to Gen. 15:17).
5.

together at the House

AND THEY JOURNEYED: AND THE TERROR OF GOD WAS UPON THE CITIES THAT WERE ROUND ABOUT SONS OF JACOB.

THEM,

AND THEY DID NOT PURSUE AFTER THE

6.

SO JACOB CAME TO

LUZ, WHICH

IS IN THE LAND OF

CANAAN,

THAT

IS,

BETH-EL, HE

AND ALL THE PEOPLE THAT WERE WITH HIM.

252
7.

Interpretation
ALTAR, AND CALLED THE PLACE EL-BETH-EL:

AND HE BUILT THERE AN

BECAUSE THERE GOD APPEARED UNTO

HIM, WHEN HE FLED

FROM THE FACE

OF HIS BROTHER.

This time Jacob hss

s ssfe

journey, but he

returns to

Beth-el to

where

he

fled from

face of his brother. In spite of God's protection, Jscob is still confused becsuse he sees no wsy of fulfilling the divine plsn of estsblishing s well-ordered society upon s just foundation.
the

8.

BUT

DEBORAH,

REBEKAH'S NURSE

DIED,

AND SHE WAS BURIED BENEATH


ALLON-

BETH-EL UNDER THE OAK: AND THE NAME OF IT WAS CALLED BACHUTH.

Deborah, Rebekah's
In
order

nurse, was buried beneath another

famous

oak.

The

author again speaks of the oak. as

if it

were an oak

that we should recognize.


remind ourselves of

to understsnd this verse


character.

it

will

be necesssry to

Rebeksh's Isssc
and

She

was

the good womsn who quietly csred

for blind

old

most of

his life

snd ssw to

it thst

the

blessing

wss csrried

through Isaac

delivered safely into the hands of Jacob, even though Isaac was not fully swsre of whst he hsd done. The womsn buried under the oak in Beth-el wss

even more removed

from the divine

plsn

than Rebekah. She was the woman

who cared

for Rebekah herself


a

when she was a

very young
the

child.
man

The

oak at

Beth-el lived for

long

time. It was the

oak under which

of God
was

was

found
young
years

by

the Prophet after

his

encounter with

King

Jeroboam. This

the

man who predicted

the coming of

King

Josiah three hundred

nineteen

too early (see commentary to Gen. 20:7).


and

When the lion


this osk
years

the ass gusrded the

body

of

the young

man

of God

under

they

were

to come.

guarding a promise which would not be fulfilled for many The same long-range care is symbolized by the nurse. This oak
to the oak at Shechem which concealed the gods that came

stands

in

opposition

to light in the days of

Abimelech,
oak at

the son of

Gideon. But
and

the oak at Beth-el

lasted

much

longer than the

Shechem

its

promise was

fulfilled

by

King
is

Josiah.
snd

Time,
part of

the wsy in which it csn concesl snd revesl, preserve snd

destroy,

the answer to Jacob's fears and

doubts.
significance

The
of

oak

is

called

this name will

in Hebrew Allon-bachuth, the oak of tears. The be discussed in the commentsry to Gen. 45:14.

9.

AND GOD APPEARED UNTO JACOB

AGAIN, WHEN HE CAME OUT OF

PADAN-

ARAM,
10.

AND BLESSED HIM.

AND GOD SAID UNTO

HIM, THY NAME IS JACOB: THY NAME SHALL NOT JACOB, BUT ISRAEL SHALL BE THY NAME:
AND HF

BE CALLED ANY MORE

CALLED HIS NAME ISRAEL. I I


.

AND GOD SAID UNTO

HIM, I

AM GOD ALMIGHTY: BE FRUITFUL AND

MUL-

The Lion
TIPLY;

and

the

Ass

253

A NATION AND A COMPANY OF NATIONS SHALL BE OF THEE. AND

KINGS SHALL COME OUT OF THY LOINS;


12. AND THE LAND WHICH I GAVE ABRAHAM AND

ISAAC, TO

THEE I WILL

GIVE

IT,

AND TO THY SEED AFTER THEE WILL I GIVE THE LAND.

The hss

not spoken.

mstch

finslly spoken sgain, and yet one msy also say that He Jscob hsd slresdy schieved the nsme Israel sfter his wrestling (Gen. 32:28). He knew very well thst he hsd been sent God Al
silent

God hss

by

mighty snd thst he would become a company of nations (Gen. 28:3). The lsnd hsd been promised to him and to his fathers many times (Gen. 28:13), and he himself had already
understood

that he would be the there is nothing

father

of

kings (Gen. God.

28:18 and commentsry).

Appsrently,

new

in the

words of

Appsrently, God is
13.

still silent.

AND GOD WENT UP FROM HIM IN THE PLACE WHERE HE TALKED WITH

HIM.
14. AND JACOB SET UP A PILLAR IN THE PLACE WHERE HE TALKED WITH

HIM,

EVEN A PILLAR OF STONE: AND HE POURED A DRINK OFFERING


AND HE POURED OIL THEREON.

THEREON,

15.

AND JACOB CALLED THE NAME OF THE PLACE WHERE GOD SPAKE WITH

HIM BETH-EL.

The is
a

history of pillars snd the role it plays in the development of the people fascinsting and curious subject. Jacob was the first great builder of pillars.
one at

He built the first

Beth-el

and even mentions

it

once

waking from his dream. (Gen. 28:18, 22) to his wives (Gen. 31:13). He built another one as a
after will and

memory of his sgreement with Lsbsn (Gen. 31:45-52), snd he build two in the present chspter one to commemorate the present moment
permanent one

to commemorate the death of Rschel.


slso

Moses
and of

built

s pillar at the

time he invited the sons


remember well

of

Aaron, Nadab
effects

Abihu,

to share his vision,

and we

the

disastrous

thst

moment

(see Ex. 24:9


the

snd

commentary to Gen. 15:9). That was the last


chapter esrlier

legitimate
slready

pillar ever raised

in the New Wsy. One into the land (Ex.

Moses hsd

commanded

people

to smash the pillars which were dedicated to


new

other gods when

they

enter

23:24).
and

are commanded not to

build any

pillars

(Lev. 26:1);

In Leviticus they in the Book of Deuter

onomy they
are

are

told not

only
I

to burn the existing pillars with

fire but they


phrase which even

specifically told not to build any to God because their worship should be
place
which

limited to the became


so

shall choose

(Deut.

12:3-5), the
15:9.

in the commentary to Gen. goes so fsr ss to ssy the Lord hates pillars (Deut. 16:22). The first illegitimate pillar was built by Absalom in
us

important for

The text

self-commemoration

(II Sam. 18:18),

and

immediately

after

Jeroboam's

revolution

there were pillars


14:23).

built

on

every high hill,

and under

every

green tree

(I Kings

254

Interpretation
of

Under the influence


pillars

his wife, Jezebel, Ahab became

a great

builder

of

to Baal (II Kings 3:2). In that sense

southern

kingdom to the

altar which

they became the counterpart in the Jeroboam built at Beth-el in the northern
work of

kingdom. Although Jehu


(II Kings 10:27
and

and

Hezekiah began the

tearing

them

down

18:4), their final destruction came


when

in the

reign of

Josiah,
altar at

one verse prior to

the highest point in the book

he destroyed the
23:14).

Beth-el, long

the symbol of a

divided

nation

(II Kings

Perhsps the best wsy of understsnding the radical change in the Biblical atti tude toward pillars is to consider the present text more deeply by comparing

it

with

Jacob's last

journey

to Beth-el (Gen. 28:18).

On that

occssion

he

poured

oil on the
which

pillar, symbolizing his awareness that there

would

be

snother

dsy

in

the formslities snd rigor of

kingship

snd priesthood would come

to his

people.

This time he

sdds a

libation

of wine.

Up
22,

until

this point Jacob had forgotten the wine. In other words the one

thing Jacob had forgotten is


and 19:31).

forgetting itself (see commentaries to Gen. 9:21, Understanding the verse in this way begins to reveal the full

meaning of Verse Eight in which Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died. Jacob had forgotten that ideas can sleep while life continues. Man's ability to forget and
to remember
spite of

is the

means which will allow

the New

Way

to be established in
sre will

the fears

which

Jacob felt

at

the

end of

Chapter Thirty-four. There


those

times when men must


never

fight their brothers,

snd while scars of will

battles
and

completely disappear, the battles themselves

be forgotten

life

will once more

be

possible.

For

reasons which will

become evident, it is

proper

that

something

should

be

said at

this point about what moderns might call our


speak of a method

method of

reading the
with which

Bible. It is difficult to
we come

in the

sense of s tool

to the

book,

other than

the notion that one should begin

by

that a book is written with intelligence until the opposite

is

shown.

assuming Nonethe
of

less it is Abrahsm

clear
when

that a certain way

has developed. It began in the days in


which

by

chance we noticed that the places

he built
Bible

altars

became important in later times.


to

Following

the

indication that

the

wished

be

read

in

such a

manner,

we tried

to recall

everything that happened in

given place or

to a given group of men whenever their names appeared, and

in

story evolved. In one sense our task was msde essy because of the modern invention of the concordance. In another sense we have seriously failed to participate in the Bible when we used that book.
general a

If

we

had

not

had the concordance, reading the Bible

would

have been

slow process of

as the author

remembering and forgetting which would have duplicated life understood it. The author's way is not merely a literary device.
of men snd their wsys.

It duplicstes his understsnding


which

Men live

by

traditions

into the land only to arise from time to time for good or for bad. At times they are forgotten and then suddenly reappesr on the surfsce. The Bible is not only sn sttempt to lay the roots of 3 tradition;

bury

themselves

deep

The Lion
it is
also a

and the

Ass

255

dramatic

showing-forth of

how

such

traditions
some

are

possible, but

one

cannot see

that presentation without, at

least in

sense, participating in it.

1 6.

AND THEY JOURNEYED FROM

BETH-EL;

AND THERE WAS BUT A LITTLE

WAY TO COME TO LABOUR. 17.


AND IT CAME TO

EPHRATH;

AND RACHEL

TRAVAILED,

AND SHE HAD HARD

PASS,

WHEN SHE WAS IN HARD

LABOUR,

THAT THE

MIDWIFE SAID UNTO

HER,

FEAR NOT: THOU SHALT HAVE THIS SON ALSO.

l8.

AND IT CAME TO

PASS,

AS HER SOUL WAS IN

DEPARTING, (FOR

SHE

DIED)

THAT SHE CALLED HIS NAME BEN-ONE BUT HIS FATHER CALLED HIM
BENJAMIN.

The

son which she


csnnot
sorrow.

had

asked

for has

finally

come, but

Rachel,

even on

her
the
and

death bed,
son

rejoice

of my

in birth; the nsme she gave to her son means This time Jacob can no longer accept Rachel's way
of my
right

re-names

the

child the son

hand.

19.

AND RACHEL

DIED,

AND WAS BURIED IN THE WAY TO

EPHRATH, WHICH

IS BETHLEHEM.
20. AND JACOB SET A PILLAR UPON HER GRAVE THAT IS THE PILLAR OF

RACHEL'S GRAVE UNTO THIS DAY. 21


.

AND ISRAEL EDAR.

JOURNEYED,

AND SPREAD HIS TENT BEYOND THE TOWER OF

22.

AND IT CAME TO

PASS, WHEN

ISRAEL DWELT IN THAT

LAND,

THAT

REUBEN WENT AND LAY WITH BILHAH HIS FATHER'S CONCUBINE: AND

ISRAEL HEARD IT. NOW THE SONS OF JACOB WERE TWELVE:

Now that Rachel is desd Reuben


sumes

sleeps with
connection

her hsndmsid, Bilhsh. He


between his father
might csll and

ss-

thst at the desth of Rschel the


even

Bilhah

became
sn

less

than

it hsd been
of

previously.

One

this relstionship
see the com

extremely mentary to Gen.

mild

esse

incest. For the full story

of

Reuben

49:3.

23.

THE SONS OF
AND

LEAH; REUBEN,

JACOB'S

FIRSTBORN, AND SIMEON, AND

LEVI,
24. 25. 26.

JUDAH, AND ISSACHAR,

AND ZEBULUN:

THE SONS OF RACHEL:

JOSEPH, AND BENJAMIN:

AND THE SONS OF BILHAH, RACHEL'S HANDMAID; AND THE SONS OF ZILPAH, LEAH'S

DAN,

AND NAPHTALL

HANDMAID; GAD AND ASHER: THESE

ARE THE SONS OF

JACOB, WHICH WERE BORN TO HIM IN PADAN-ARAM.

27.

FATHER UNTO AND JACOB CAME UNTO ISAAC HIS WHICH IS

MAMRE, UNTO THE

CITY OF ARBAH,

HEBRON, WHERE ABRAHAM AND ISAAC SOJOURNED.


seen

So
and

old

Isaac is

still alive.

by

now most of us

It has been msny years since we have had either forgotten him or thought that he

him,
dead.

was

256

Interpretation
come to s msjor chsrscter

This is the third time death has

in the book. The

first

msjor chsrscter

to die wss

Ssrsh;

she

died

st the sge of granted

127

yesrs

(Gen.
the

23:1),

seven

yesrs

longer thsn the life thst


enough

wss

to

msn

sfter

Flood (Gen. 6:3).

Strangely

Isaac

was

Jacob,
died
99,

which

would mean

that

his life

after

sixty years old at the birth of the birth of Jacob was precisely

120 years.

In

a more complicated

way the same

thing is

true of Abraham.

He

st the sge of

and

175 (Gen. 25:1). Now Isaac was born when Abraham was Sarah died when Isaac was 40 (Gen. 25:20). If one allows one year for

mourning, that would mean that Abraham was 140 when he married
or

Keturah,
when

that he

lived

with

Keturah for 35

years.

Now Ishmael

was

born

Abraham

may 85. In the commentary to Gen. 25:1 we showed that Abraham had two lives one which he led as a private man and the other which he led
Abraham
was as the

was

86,

and therefore we

presume that

he

was conceived when

founder

of

the New Way. If one


conception of

presupposes that

his

private

life lasted he

from his birth to the


msrried

Ishmael life
was

and was resumed sgsin when

Keturah,
sre

the

length
of

of that
which

85

yesrs plus

35

yesrs or

exsctly

120 yesrs, the

length

life

God

prescribed

to msn.

There

interesting

differences in the two

esses which

the chsrscters of Abraham and Isaac.

The

part of seen

completely reflect Abraham's life which was

devoted to the New

Wsy

lssted

until

he hsd

his

son

included the
the birth of
over.

he took in preserving the Way. Isaac's his son. Once he had passed on the seed his
care

private

safely married. It life began at

work was

essentially

Abraham's

private

life

was

full

and rich;

it

and would
establish

have

commsnded our respect even

many grest nstions if he had not been chosen to

produced

the New
at

Way, but Isaac

would

have

remained unknown.

Moses died
the two lives.

the age of 120; in

his

case there was no

distinction between

28. 29.

AND THE DAYS OF ISAAC WERE AN HUNDRED AND FOUR-SCORE YEARS. AND ISAAC

EXPIRED, AND DIED,

AND WAS GATHERED UNTO HIS PEOPLE,

BEING OLD AND FULL OF DAYS: AND HIS SONS ESAU AND JACOB BURIED HIM.

As in the

case of

Abraham, Isaac is buried by both


detached from the New

of

his

sons.

Again his
25:9).

death

seems to

be

private and

Way

(see Gen.

CHAPTER XXXVI

NOW THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF

ESAU,

WHO IS EDOM.

2.

ESAU TOOK HIS WIVES OF THE DAUGHTERS OF DAUGHTER OF ELON THE

CANAAN;

ADAH THE

HITTITE, AND AHOLIBAMAH THE DAUGHTER OF

ANAH THE DAUGHTER OF ZIBEON THE

HIVITE;

3.

AND BASHEMATH ISHMAEL'S

DAUGHTER, SISTER OF NEBAJOTH.

The Lion

and the

Ass

257
chspter

Chapter Thirty-six, the fsr the


chspter most

desling

with

the

descendsnts

of

Essu, is by
most

artless
whole

chapter of
of

the entire book and perhaps the


will

artless
will

in the

the Bible. Hittites

become Hivites,

women

suddenly become men, nsmes will sppesr from nowhere like rabbits out of hsts, snd brothers who slmost hsve identicsl names will suddenly become one. There
are two reasons

for
as

this artlessness.

First,

the author, as

it were,
In

presents

the

history

of

Essu

if it had been

preserved

by

his

own children.

doing

so

he

reproduces

the artless chsrscter of Esau himself. There is no

long

tradition con

cerning Ishmael. The way of the wild ass is not a way that keeps records. But Esau, as a strange mixture between the New Way and the wild ass, does

keep

records.

However, they
is his

tend to get scrambled a

bit.
the author
of

The
reveals

other reason

more complicated. own art.

By

his

apparent artlessness

the nature of

These

chapters are a reasonable people snd

facsimile

traditions as

they

come

down through the have faced


presents wss

mass of material which must

our author

may not himself.

be

so unlike the

The
ried

problem

immediately
The first

itself in these first


of

verses.

Esau had
the

mar

three

women.

Judith the dsughter

Beeri,

Hittite;

the

second wss

Bsshemath the daughter


of

of

Elon the Hittite

(Gen. 26:34); and the third

Mshalsth the dsughter


who

Ishmsel (Gen.

28:9).

becomes Adah

is
of

now

considered

the dsughter of Elon the

Suddenly, Judith's name Hittite, who

hsd been the father

Bashemsth. Bsshemsth, in the mesntime, hss become Aholibamsh the dsughter of Ansh, the dsughter of Zibeon the Hivite. And

Mshslsth's

nsme

things even more

hss become Bsshemath, just to round difficult Anah will turn out to be male
a

things off.
and a

To

make of

descendant

Seir,

rather

thsn

being

Hivite

who was supposed

to have been a Hittite. We

shall see more of this

three-ring

circus as we go along.

4. 5.

AND ADAH BARE TO ESAU

ELIPHAZ;

AND BASHEMATH BARE

REUEL;

AND AHOLIBAMAH BARE THE SONS OF

JEUSH,

AND

JAALAM,

AND KORAH: THESE ARE

ESAU,

CANAAN. WHICH WERE BORN UNTO HIM IN THE LAND OF

6.

AND ESAU TOOK HIS

AND WIVES, AND HIS SONS, AND HIS DAUGHTERS,

ALL THE PERSONS OF HIS

HOUSE, AND HIS CATTLE, AND ALL HIS BEASTS,


CANAAN; AND

THE LAND OF AND ALL HIS SUBSTANCE WHICH HE HAD GOT IN

BROTHER JACOB. WENT INTO THE COUNTRY FROM THE FACE OF HIS

7.

MIGHT DWELL TOGETHER; FOR THEIR RICHES WERE MORE THAN THAT THEY
STRANGERS COULD NOT BEAR THEM AND THE LAND WHEREIN THEY WERE
BECAUSE OF THEIR CATTLE.

There
since

seems

to be some

question about

the time of Esau's


occupied

migration

to Seir

in

the earlier chapter


return.

he

sppesrs

to hsve

that country

before

Jacob's

8.
9.

EDOM. THUS DWELT ESAU IN MOUNT SEIR: ESAU IS

OF ESAU THE FATHER OF THE EDOMITES AND THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS IN MOUNT SEIR:

258
10.

Interpretation
SONS;
ELIPHAZ THE SON OF ADAH

THESE ARE THE NAMES OF ESAU'S

THE WIFE OF ESAU, REUEL THE SON OF BASHEMATH THE WIFE OF ESAU. 1 1
.

AND THE SONS OF ELIPHAZ WERE AND KENAZ.

TEMAN, OMAR, ZEPHO,

AND

GATAM,

Eliphsz's first-born
which

son.

Temsn. is

mentioned ss

the fsther

of

the tribe to

that other Eliphsz from the Book of Job belongs (Job 2:11), but none of

the other sons mentioned


we

in Verse Eleven for Kensz.

ever sppesrs

in the books

with which

hsve been

desling

except

We may not take the direct route to understanding this verse, but like the Children of Israel, who feared the giants and were forced to take the longer
route which year

lasted
also

forty

years, we, too, must make

long

excursion.

Our

fortywith

journey
list
of

begins in the thirteenth


who were

chapter of

the Book of

Numbers
us

the

spies

sent

out

to view the new

land. Let

consider

them individually.

The tribe
unknown.

of

Reuben

sent

Shammus the
sent

son of

Zsccur

whose grsndfsther

is
of

The tribes Caleb the is

of

Simeon

Shsphst the
and

son of sent

Hori. The tribe


son of

Judsh

sent

son of

Jephunneh,

Issachar

Igal the

Joseph,

famous Joshua, son of Nun, but even his grandfather is unknown. There is little sense in going through the rest of the list. In only one case can the geneology of the spies be trsced bsck beyond the second generation. This is a very peculiar circumstance
whose grandfather also unknown.

Ephraim

sent the

to

find in

book

which relies so

hesvily

on

tradition snd which so often under

lines the importsnce

of

fsmily

trees. The fsct thst this

is

even true of

Joshus

mskes matters most strange

indeed.
detour to
understsnd

At this

point we must make a second

the character of Joshua. Soon after the Israelites had escaped

something about Pharaoh's srmy,


of the

they

were sttscked

by

the Amslekites. At thst point the son of Nun


snd

sppesred

in the text for the first time


17:9-14).

becsme the leader

suddenly army in

battle (Ex.
Little had that
role

was

heard

of

him

again until

Nadab

and

Abihu,
God

the sons of

Aaron,
It
was

strange and somewhat vulgarized vision of

which played such a people.

in

the

formation

of

the great gap between Moses and the

then that Joshua wss chosen to


stood on the other side of
who

sccompsny Moses, snd from thst time on he the gsp together with Moses (Ex. 33:1 1). It wss he
and

first told Moses the

significsnce of the cries thst were

csmp during the affair of the Golden Calf (Ex. 32:17), Moses when Lldsd snd Midsd were prophesying in the
Before

coming from the he agsin wsrned


of

middle

the csmp.

becoming

the successor to Moses his great virtue seems to

have been his

sensitivity to the dangers of wildness. Aside from Joshua, Caleb was the only spy who wss Children of Israel hsd the prowess snd stsmins to fsce the
returned, the other spies

convinced gisnts.
snd

thst the

described the besuties

of

the lsnd

When they the horrors of

The Lion

and

the

Ass

259

the gisnts. But Csleb ssid: Let


well able to possess

us go up at once and possess it; for we are it (Num. 13:30). Nonetheless the people becsme frightened

and revolted.

It

was at that time that the


wander

Lord decreed that the Children


in the desert because they
the servant of

of

Israel
yet

would

be forced to

able

to face the giants.


wss sllowed

forty Only Caleb,

years

were not

God,

together with

Joshua,
As
the

to

live through that

journey

to see the promise

fulfilled

(Num. 24:22-25).
we mentioned at of

the

beginning

of

this

any Caleb. Jephunneh


of

fathers

of the spies with the exception of


was s

digression nothing is known about Jephunneh, the father of

the

fifth

son of of

Kenizzite (Num. 32:12) snd hence s direct descendsnt Eliphsz, the son of Essu, just ss Csleb 's son-in-lsw, Oth-

niel, the first


3:9)-

the

Judges,

wss

himself

Kenizzite (Josh. 15:17

snd

Judg.

This

rsther

shocking turn

of sffsirs makes a certain amount of sense

in the
that

light
while

of the

second suffered

chapter of

Deuteronomy, in

which

it is

pointed out

Israel

to

conquer

in slavery for four hundred years in Egypt, Esau was able the land of the Horims who seem either to be giants or at least to
(see Deut. 2:12,
of

be in

close contact with giants a

21-23).

In Caleb the Essu's

son of

Jephunneh,
mentary

direct descendsnt

Essu,

we see one side of

chsracter. next com

Essu hss the

stamina and prowess which

Israel lscked, but in the

we shall meet another

descendsnt

snd see snother side of thst chsracter.

12.

AND TIMNA WAS CONCUBINE TO ELIPHAZ ESAU'S

SON; AND SHE BARE TO

ELIPHAZ AMALEK: THESE WERE THE SONS OF ADAH ESAU'S WIFE.

Eliphsz hsd

snother son
will

by

s concubine nsmed

Timns, but

the general sub

ject

of concubines

be discussed in the

following

chspter.

Our

present

is to discuss Israel's relationship to that other son, Amalek. The country of Amalek was first mentioned as having been captured by Chedorlsomer in Chapter Fourteen during the time that he wss fighting the
problem gisnts. often

Amslek,
to

ss we

know,

wss not s

gisnt, in

spite of

the fsct thst he


thst

will

be

sssocisted with them.

Our

tssk will

be to

understsnd

kinship

ss

well ss

see whst

distinguishes them. Israel successfully eluded the srmy of Phsrsoh by Reeds they revolted becsuse of stsrvstion. Moses success
of

After the Children crossing the Ses


of

fully

quelled the revolt, and God promised to provide manna for the starving

people.

The

people then arrived at a place called


wster.

Raphidim

where

there was a second

revolt, this time over the lsck of


vided

Just

sbout the

time wster wss pro

from

rock, the Amslekites sttacked from the rear. This was the begin
was to

ning of a war which dants of Esau, were


the Moabites or the

last for

centuries.

The Amalekites,
related

being

descen

of course much more

Syrians,

whom

we

closely have mentioned

to Israel than either


on

many

occasions.

260

Interpretation
the brothers
access
who were

They
them

were with

to have

welcomed

Israel

and to

have

provided

easy necesssry to tske the lsnd of the Ammonites. Had this plan worked the Jordan River would have formed the eastern border, and the unity of the people would
assured.

to the Promised Land so that it

would not

have been

have been

For

as we

remember, it

country which forced the eastern provinces The Amalekites were to have been one of the first to

simply the largeness of the to build the first sepsrste sltar.


was

receive the

New

Way

in fulfillment
Israel they The

of

the

fundamental
clear

promise.

By being

the first people to attack


the universal
promise

made

it

that

so

long

as

they lived
Jethro in

would never

be fulfilled (Ex.

17:8).
and
which

critical

meeting between Moses

it

was

determined

that the New

Way

should

immedistely
gisnts.

sfter this

be a way of bsttle (Ex. 19:2).


grest

written

law took

place

in Raphidim

suthor seems to

indicste the

relsting these two incidents, the difference between the Amslekites snd the

By

The
of

gisnts sre the

irrstionsl forces
but

sround us whom we csn escape

by

means

borders

snd covensnts

whom we can never conquer.

The Amalekites

on

the other hand are our own brothers.

In their revolt, the Children


churned

of

Israel

showed

that the

wsters of chsos still

deeply

within

them.

If the firmament is intended to hold back the

waters of

the universe and borders are to hold back the chaotic waters of the
these

Philistines,
the
as

laws

were

intended to

contain

the

chaotic

waters

within

the hearts of the people. The

Maobites

or

the

Amalekites, who Midianites, are like the


beyond the
borders.
resr wss the expanse. mere

were closer

in kin than
our

either

waters

within

souls

just

the giants are the waters

Since they

are psrt of us

they

cannot

be

excluded

by

Their cowsrdly
method of

sttsck

from the

first indicstion thst the kin

originsl

spresding the New


as the men who
a memorial out

Wsy

vis their nesrest of

would not succeed.

The

cowsrdliness of the sttsck

led to God's decision thst the Amslekites


words were as
ears

should

be trested
for

lived before the Flood. His


in
a

follows:

Write this for


will

book,

and rehearse

I utterly blot

the

remembrance

of Joshua: of Amalek from under heaven

it in the

(Ex. 17:14).

These
the spies

people next showed who

up

as

living

among the

giants and were seen

by

brought back

the reports

concerning the

invincibility

of the new

land (Num.

13:28,29).
rebuked

After God

the people for their revolt in the face of the gisnts, He

turned to Csleb snd called


able to

him

My

servant

becsuse he

alone would

have been

face the

giants.

The

author

takes that opportunity to remind us sgsin


we must remind our

thst the Amslekites


selves that

were

living

Caleb too

was a son of

smong the giants, but Esau.

The

following

over the

morning the men woke up and saw the Promised Land right hill. With a sudden burst of courage they decided to attack imme-

The Lion

and the

Ass

261
their courage came too
chased

diately
late
called

without

and

they

were

waiting the appointed forty years, but defeated by the Amalekites, who
we shall

them to a city

Horma (Num. 14:40-46). discuss the


snd

In the commentary to Gen. 49:5 Thst desth hsd

strange

desth

of

Aaron.

s profound effect on the

people,
snd

immedistely

sfter

he died That

they were sble to fsce battle, while it did not


In that
wonderful

the

Amslekites
that

regain

the city of Horma.

mean

them to set off with confidence

Israel had become giant-killers, to the land of King Sihon.


period of

allowed

but brief

following
could

the death of Joshua when


rule

it

looked
without

as

though the
or

Children

Israel

themselves

under

God

king

lesder, Judsh
The first

snd

Simeon

recaptured snd

Horma

with esse.

There

were several skirmishes

between Israel

the Amalekites the

during

the

times of the Judges. the Kenizzite.

sttsck csme

shortly
was

sfter again.

death

of

Othniel,
were

Thus,

the same theme has occurred

The Kenizzites

descendants
problem.

of

Esau. So

long

as

Othniel

alive

the Amalekites were no the Amalekites


was such a

Israel's best been

protection sgainst

the evil side of Esau


and

had

always

a son of

Esau himself,

Othniel the Kenizzite


general

man.

There

were a

few

more skirmishes,

but in

the situation was quiet

until

the reign of

King

Saul.
with

After Saul's first battle


with

the Philistines there wss snother brief bsttle

hsd appsrently tsken the opportunity to conquer Amslekites, Israelite lsnd during the Philistine war (I Sam. 14:48), but it was sometime
the
who

later that the Amalekite Ssul's

wsrs

becsme
well

serious.

kingship hsving
sgsinst

been

estsblished, Ssmuel reminded him of the

divine decree

the Amalekites.
wsrned

Before the battle Ssul among the

the

Kennites, they

who

were

st that time

living

Amalekites,
whom

to leave so thst

would not

be injured in the bsttle.

The Kennites, descendsnts


the text
of

we remember
Moses'

Hobsb,

from the commentsry to Gen. 25:1, were fsther-in-lsw (Judg. 4:11). For the second time between the Amslekites
snd

hss

msde s connection

Jethro.
spared the

Ssul
of

was proud of

his

success

in the fields that day, but he from

life

Agsg

their

king
the
and

snd ssved

the best of the cattle to present as a sacrifice to


them the

God: And Saul


people spared

said,

They
rest

have brought
the
we

Amalekites: for the

best of
the

Lord thy God;

words of excuse

to Ssmuel sre

the oxen, of sheep have utterly destroyed (I Sam. 15:15)- Saul's quite moving, but Ssmuel only snswers, Hath
and

the

to sacrifice unto

the Lord as great


voice

delight in burnt

offerings

and sacrifices as

in obeying the

better than sacrifice, and to hearken of the Lord? Behold, to obey is than the fat of rams (1 Ssm. 15:22). As s result Agsg wss hscked to pieces by

Ssmuel,
The
that the

snd the

kingship
swsre

wss tsken
which

from

the

line

of

Ssul.

sympsthetic

way in

Saul's

position

is

presented makes

it

evident

suthor

is

thst the esse of

Amslek is

s strange sffsir which must

sppesr monstrous.

It only becomes intelligible

when we reslize thst we sre not

262

Interpretation
with

dealing
wsys.

history
internal

but

with

book

about s

the

nature

of peoples which

and

their

Amslek
as an

csnnot

be thought

of ss

foreign

race

is to be
at

wiped

out

but

counterpart of the external giant.


are

Looked

in that way

we can see

why there

facets

which might

tempt even a decent man to pre

serve what must

During
in Ziklag,

ultimately be destroyed. the early days of his rise to power, David,


pretended

vassal

to

King

Achish Amale

to

his lord that he

and

his

men

had

attacked

Israel. But

the truth is that

during
was

this period David had begun his conquest of the

kites (I Sam.

27:8).

While Saul
attacked

fighting his last

battle

with

the Philistines the Amalekites

the camp at Ziklag. When David returned he found Ziklag in ashes, all his belongings captured, and his wives tsken prisoner. But he wss sble to de-

fest the Amslekites, free his


smsll

wives, snd recspture

his belongings

with

only

bsnd

of men.

Although

King

fice to

the

Lord, David took

Ssul lost his throne for preserving Amslekite csttle ss a sacri possession of all the Amalekite goods and dis
who

tributed them
who

did

not

equally among all of his men, to those fight. The pass3ge resds 3S follows:
came to the two
whom

fought

and

to those

And David

hundred

men, which

were so

faint that they

could not

follow David,

they had
and

made also to abide at the

brook Besor:
him:

and thev went

forth

to meet

David,

to meet the people that were

with

and when

David

came near

to the people, that went

he

saluted

them.
and

Then
said,

Belial, of those
will not give wife and

with

David,

them ought of the spoil that we children, that

of Because they went not with us, we have recovered, save to every man his

answered all

the wicked men

his

Ye

shall not

do

so, my

they may lead them away, and depart. Then said David. brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us. who hath
the company that came against us
matter?

preserved

us, and

delivered

into

our

hand. For
to the
was

who will

hearken

unto you part

in this

But

as

his

part

is that

goeth

down

battle,
so, this

so shall

his

be
.

that tarrieth that

by
it

the stuff:

they

shall part alike.

And it

from

that

day forward

he

made

a statute and an ordinance for

Israel

unto

day. (I Sam. 30:21-25) those to receive the spoils


upon were

Among
Amalekite As

the men of

Horma (I Sam.

30:30).

This insistence

justice is intended had been

as a revision of the simple

ban

on

goods which

placed upon

Saul.

we related

his last Philistine

in the commentsry to Gen. 14:4, Ssul wss wounded during war and asked his armor bearer to relieve his suffering with
armor

his sword, but the


sppesred st

bearer

refused

(I Sam. 31:4). Two days later

a man

Dsvid's camp to report Saul's death. According to his account, Saul asked him to do the same service by holding the sword, and the young man complied. When David discovered that the young man was an Amalekite his
reaction was no weaker

than Samuel's when he

met

Agag. As in the
msn.

esrlier

occssion the
were ss

Amalekite

youth was portrayed ss s

decent

His

exsct words

follows:

The Lion
He

and

the

Ass

263
upon

said unto me again,

Stand, I pray thee,

me, and slay me: for anguish is

come upon

because my life is yet whole in me. So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took
me,
the crown that was upon

his head,

and

the

bracelet

that was on

his

arm, and

have

brought

them

hither

unto

my lord. (II Sam. 1:9-10)


of value was understood

As in the bound up

esse of

Ishmsel, something
with

to be closely
of

with

the Amalekites and


could not remain.

the Amalekite in the hesrt

Israel,

even though

it

What

makes the
of

Bible

an

interesting

book is

its

awareness

of

that the

value. villain

The tradition in the Book

the Amalekites lasted for many


was a

centuries.

Haman,

of

Esther,
s

descendant
of

of

Agag

(Esther 3:10),

and the

hero, Mordecsi,

wss

descendsnt

Kish,

the Ben-

jsminite,
13.

the fsther of

King

Ssul (Esther

2:5).

AND THESE ARE THE SONS OF REUEL:

NAHATH, AND ZERAH, SHAMMAH,

AND MIZZAH: THESE WERE THE SONS OF BASHEMATH ESAU'S WIFE.

14.

AND THESE WERE THE SONS OF

AHOLIBAMAH, THE DAUGHTER OF

AHAH

THE DAUGHTER OF

ZIBEON,

ESAU'S WIFE: AND SHE BARE TO ESAU JEUSH.

AND JAALAM, AND KORAH.

15.

THESE WERE DUKES OF THE SONS OF ESAU: THE SONS OF ELIPHAZ THE

FIRST BORN SON OF ESAU: DUKE TEMAN, DUKE


KENAZ. l6. DUKE

OMAR,

DUKE

ZEPHO,

DUKE

KORAH, DUKE GATAM,

AND DUKE AMALEK: THESE ARE THE DUKES

THAT CAME OF ELIPHAZ IN THE LAND OF


ADAH.

EDOM; THESE WERE THE SONS OF

The
show

author goes through this


government

list

of

the sons of Esau once again in


under.

order

to

the kind of

they lived
lived in

Apparently,

there was no unity

among the sons of

Esau,

who

small communities each ruled

by its

own

duke. This
the
repetition revesls

snother

difficulty
given

within

the tradition. If the list of


and

sons of

Eliphsz,
the

the son of
given

Adsh,

in Verses Fourteen
one can see

Fifteen is
the son

compared with

list

in Verse Eleven
s son of

thst

Korah,

of

Aholibamah, hss suddenly become

Eliphsz. This

confusion

is

prob-

the author because it reminds us of a sbly intentionsl on the psrt of (see Num. difficulty in Israel hsving to do with Korah, the Levite

similar

16

and

17,
17.

and

commentary to Gen.

20:7).

DUKE AND THESE ARE THE SONS OF REUEL ESAU'S SON:


DUKE

NAHATH, DUKE

ZERAH,

THAT CAME SAMMAH, DUKE MIZZAH: THESE ARE THE DUKES

THE SONS OF BASHEMATH OF REUEL IN THE LAND OF EDOM: THESE ARE


ESAU'S WIFE.

18.

AHOLIBAMAH ESAU'S WIFE: DUKE AND THESE ARE THE SONS OF

JEUSH,

THESE WERE THE DUKES THAT CAME OF DUKE JAALAM, DUKE KORAH:
AHOLIBAMAH

THE DAUGHTER OF ANAH, ESAU'S WIFE.

264
19.

Interpretation
ESAU, WHO IS EDOM,
AND THESE ARE THEIR

THESE ARE THE SONS OF

DUKES.

Verse Seventeen is in
Eighteen is in
perfect

perfect

sgreement with

with

Verse Thirteen
except

snd

Verse

sgreement

Verse Fourteen

thst it must

be

remembered thst Ansh was Aholibamah's mother.

20.

THESE ARE THE SONS OF SEIR THE HORITE, WHO INHABITED THE LAND:
AND

LOTAN,
21.
AND

SHOBAL,
AND

AND ZIBEON. AND ANAH,

DISHON,

EZER,

AND DISHAN: THESE ARE THE DUKES OF THE EDOM.

HORITES, THE CHILDREN OF SEIR IN THE LAND OF

Zibeon

was

the

grsndfsther

of

Essu's

wife

Aholibsmsh, but her

mother

Ansh hss suddenly become her uncle. It is two brothers nsmed Dishsn snd Dishon.
22.

slso peculisr thst there should

be

AND THE CHILDREN OF LOTAN WERE HORI AND HEMAN: AND LOTAN'S

SISTER WAS TIMNA.

Lotsn's sister, Timns,


23.

wss

the mother of

Amslek,

st

lesst for the time being.


AND

AND THE CHILDREN OF SHOBAL WERE THESE:

ALVAN,

MANAHATH,

AND 24.

EBAL, SHEPHO,

AND ONAM.

AND THESE ARE THE CHILDREN OF

ZIBEON;

BOTH AJAH AND ANAH: THIS

WAS THAT ANAH THAT FOUND THE MULES IN THE


THE ASSES OF ZIBEON HIS FATHER. 25.
AND THE CHILDREN OF ANAH WERE THESE:

WILDERNESS,

AS HE FED

DISHON,

AND AHOLIBAMAH

THE DAUGHTER OF ANAH.

Ajah may have been the father of Saul's famous concubine, Rizpah, with whom Ishbosheth sccused Abner of hsving slept. This sccusstion wss the imAbner'

mediste

csuse of

decision to lesve Ishbosheth commentary to Gen.


whom

snd

join the forces


was

of

Dsvid (II Ssm.


mother of

3:8

and

23:1).

Rizpah

also

the

the sons of Saul

David
which

hung
the

in

order
of

to avoid the famine


against

which was sent

because

of

the

deeds

house

Saul had done

the Gibeonites (II Sam. Chap. 21 and

commentary

to Gen. 22:6).
wife of you

Anah, the son of Zibeon, was the mother of Aholibamah, the Dishon, the son of Anah, was also her brother or his brother as
as we shall soon see

Esau.

wish, but

he

was

two

brothers

all

in

one.

26.

AND THESE ARE THE CHILDREN OF AND CHERAN.

DISHAN; HEMDAN,

AND

ESHBAN,

AND

ITHRAN,
27. 28. 29.

THE CHILDREN OF EZER ARE

THESE; BILHAN,

AND

ZAAVAN,

AND AKAN.

THE CHILDREN OF DISHAN ARE

THESE; UZ, AND

ARAN. DUKE

THESE ARE THE DUKES THAT CAME OF THE

HORITES; DUKE LOTAN,

SHOBAL, DUKE ZIBEON, DUKE ANAH.

The Lion

and the

Ass

265
and the chsos

Dishon has
30. DUKE

finally

become Dishan

is

complete.

DISHON, DUKE EZER,

DUKE DISHAN: THESE ARE THE DUKES THAT


IN THE LAND OF SEIR.

CAME OF

HORI, AMONG THEIR DUKES

After
31.

brief

period of unificstion the

brothers hsve

now

become two
EDOM,

sgain.

AND THESE ARE THE KINGS THAT REIGNED IN THE LAND OF

BE

FORE THERE REIGNED ANY KING OVER THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.


32. AND BELA THE SON OF BEOR REIGNED IN EDOM: AND THE NAME OF HIS

CITY WAS DINHABAH. 33. AND BELA DIED. AND JOBAB THE SON OF ZERAH OF BOZRAH REIGNED IN

HIS STEAD.

34.

AND JOBAB DIED. AND HUSHAM OF THE LAND OF TEMANI REIGNED IN

HIS STEAD.

35.

AND HUSHAM

DIED,

AND HADAD THE SON OF

BEDAD, WHO

SMOTE MID

IAN IN THE FIELD OF CITY WAS AVITH. 36. 37.


AND HADAD

MOAB, REIGNED

IN HIS STEAD: AND THE NAME OF HIS

DIED,

AND SAMLAH OF MASREKAH REIGNED IN HIS STEAD. AND SAUL OF REHOBOTH BY THE RIVER REIGNED IN

AND SAMLAH

DIED,

HIS STEAD.
38.
AND SAUL

DIED,

AND BAAL-HANAN THE SON OF ACHBOR REIGNED IN

HIS STEAD. 39.


AND BAAL-HANAN THE SON OF ACHBOR

DIED,

AND HADAR REIGNED IN AND HIS WIFE'S NAME

HIS STEAD: AND THE NAME OF HIS CITY WAS

PAU;

WAS

MEHETABEL,

THE DAUGHTER OF

MATRED,
out to

THE DAUGHTER OF MEZAHAB.


a potpourri of names

The kings

who ruled over whole of

Edom turn
can

be

found

throughout the

history. One famous

find
of

a man named

Saul,

and

Baalam's

father is there,
40.

as well as the

king

Syria.
ESAU,
AC

AND THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE DUKES THAT CAME OF

CORDING TO THEIR FAMILIES, AFTER THEIR PLACES BY THEIR NAMES: DUKE

TIMNA,
41.

DUKE

ALVAH, DUKE JETHETH.

DUKE AHOLIBAMAH, DUKE


DUKE DUKE

ELAH,

DUKE

PINON,

42. 43.

KENAZ,

DUKE

TEMAN, DUKE MIBZAR,


THE DUKES OF

MAGDIEL, DUKE IRAM: THESE BE

EDOM,

ACCORD

ING TO THEIR HABITATIONS IN THE LAND OF THEIR POSSESSION: HE IS ESAU


THE FATHER OF THE EDOMITES.

This list
the
sons of

purports

to

be

a summstion of the chapter

in

which

the names of

Esau

are restated. snd

It

contains well

known

sons such as

Kenaz
snd

and

Teman. However, Timns

Aholibsmsh hsve become trans vestites,

God

only knows csme from.

where

the Dukes

Elsh, Pinon, Mibzsr,

snd s couple of

the others

266

Interpretation
of errors concludes

This comedy
ststed st

the discussion

of

the sons of Essu.


show

As

we

the

un weeded gsrden.

The book
These be

beginning of the chspter, it is intended to Only one thing must be sdded. of Deuteronomy begins with the following
Moses
spake unto all

the results of sn

verses:

the words which

Israel

on this side

Jordan in the
and

wilderness,

in the

plain over against the and


.

Red Sea between Paran,


days'

Tophel,

and

Laban,

and

Hazeroth,

Dizahab (There

are eleven

journey from Horeb

by

the way of mount Seir unto

Kadesh-barnea.)

(Deut.

i :i

,2)

Scholsrs hsve
geographically,

often wished

to delete Verse

Two,

since

it

mskes no sense

not

realizing that the author was concerned with more than


the
word. given

geography in the

simple sense of presents

Deuteronomy
It is
a repetition sense
oral

itself

as

sn address

by

Moses to the

people.

in

speech of of

the

deeds

contsined

in the former books. In that


speech
which

it is the

beginning
Israel,
One

tradition as such.

This

began the

tradition in
of

was

delivered

by

the way of mount


would pick

Seir,
pen

the unweeded

garden

traditions.

day

the author

time. Perhaps he wondered whether the generations


come

up for the last to follow would also be

his

lost in the desert

and wander

into the land

of

Seir.

CHAPTER XXXVII

AND JACOB DWELT IN THE LAND WHEREIN HIS FATHER WAS A

STRANGER,

IN THE LAND OF CANAAN.

On msny Actually it is
passages

occssions we not clear

have

spoken of the

four hundred

years

in Egypt.
relevant

from
read:

what point one

is to begin the

count.

The

from Genesis
said unto not

And he

Abram, Know of a surety


and shall serve

that

thy

seed shall

be

a stranger

in

land that is

theirs,

them: and

they

shall afflict them four

hundred

years; and also that nation whom

they

shall serve will

I judge:

and afterward shall

they

come out with great substance.

And

thou shalt go to

thy fathers in peace; they


shall come

thou

shalt

be buried in

a good old age.

But in the fourth

generation

hither

again:

for

the

iniquity

of the Amorites is

not yet full.

(Gen. 15:13-16)

However it is
closest

not possible

to reconstruct the time sequence in Egypt. The

that one can come is arrived at through the


are the names and

following

verses:

And these
and

Kohath,
sons

of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and of Gershon; Libni,
and

seven years.

The

sons

and

Shimi, according

to their families.

And the

Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the rears of Kohath; Amram, the life Kohath an were hundred of of thirty and three years. And the sons of Merari: Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according to their generations.

The Lion

and

the Ass

267
sister

And Amram took him Jochebed his father's


and

to wife; and she

bare him Aaron


and seven

Moses: (Ex.

and the years

of the

life of Amram

were an

hundred and thirty

years.

6:16-20)
Kohath
wss

Now

since

born before Levi

went to

Egypt, it is

obvious the

four hundred
as well.

yesrs must

have included the time is

which wss

spent

in Canaan

The
not

word stranger or sojourner able

used

here to

remind us

that Jacob will

be

to spend the whole of his life in the Promised Land.

2.

THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF JACOB. YEARS

JOSEPH, BEING SEVENTEEN

OLD, WAS FEEDING

THE FLOCK WITH HIS BRETHREN: AND THE LAD


AND WITH THE SONS OF

WAS WITH THE SONS OF

BILHAH,

ZILPAH,

HIS FA

THER'S WIVES: AND JOSEPH BROUGHT UNTO HIS FATHER THEIR EVIL REPORT.

Verse Two is difficult to translste becsuse


of particles.

of the rather subtle use snd

it

mskes

The two
a

psrticles

involved

sre eth

be. The first

particle

is

usually the sign of


usually
care means

in

or

but may also mean with. The second one among, but may be used to show the direct object of
object

direct

verbs such as

for

pear with

ruling or caring for. The direct object of the verb meaning to flock usually requires the particle eth. The same two particles ap the same verb in Verse Twelve, which clearly must be translated:
father'

And his brethren fed his


no

flock in Shechem. For the

reader who

knows

Hebrew the
particles
of

conclusion of

these reflections may be summed up as follows:

if the

are

taken in the same sense as

they
must

must

be taken in Verse
are

Twelve

the present chapter, then Verse Two

be translsted: These
shepherded

the generations of

Jacob. Joseph,

being
he

seventeen years old,

his
and

brothers among
The

the sheep though

was a

lad,

that

is the

sons

of Bilhah

the sons ofZilpah,

his

father'

s wives.

words which sre rsther

translsted evil report seem to refer to something which

frightened Joseph

the words sre used

thsn to something evil. At sny rate the only other time in is the description of the report which the spies brought

bsck regsrding the


3.

gisnts

(Num.

13:32 snd 14:36,37).

NOW ISRAEL LOVED JOSEPH MORE THAN ALL HIS

CHILDREN, BECAUSE HE

WAS THE SON OF HIS OLD AGE: AND HE MADE HIM A COAT OF MANY COLOURS.
4. AND WHEN HIS BRETHREN SAW THAT THEIR FATHER LOVED HIM MORE THAN ALL HIS

BRETHREN, THEY

HATED

HIM,

AND COULD NOT SPEAK PEACE

ABLY UNTO HIM.

Verses Three
us

and

Four
of

contain

the kernel of the problem

which shall

face

for the

remainder

the book. After the vision at Beth-el Jacob realized


order would

that a solid snd

well

defined

This

order

would

require

s preference

be necesssry in the life of his people. for the eldest son. At the ssme time
most

Jscob believed his

youngest son

to

be the

cspsble, snd he

wss slso

st-

268

Interpretation
wss

trscted to
snd

Joseph's youth, psrtly becsuse Jscob himself psrtly because of the heroic streak in his
.character.

the youngest son

The

elegant coat which


brothers'

he
It

presented

to Joseph seems

almost calculated not

to

cause the

anger.

wss such s cost

thst Tsmsr wore;

the Tamar

that we shall meet in the next chspter

but Dsvid's dsughter,

who wss abused

by

her half-brother, Amnon (II Sam. For further


reference

13:12).
noted

it

should

be

that because of his extreme youth, the brothers.

Benjamin is
5.

not yet considered as

being

one of

and joseph dreamed a

dream,

and he told it his brethren: and

they hated him yet the more.

6.

and he said unto

them, hear,

i pray

you,

this dream which i have

dreamed: 7.

for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my


sheaf

arose,

and also stood

upright; and, behold,

your sheaves

stood round

about,

and made obeisance to my sheaf.

8.

and his brethren said to

him,

shalt thou indeed reign over us?

or shalt thou have dominion over us? and they hated him yet the
more for his

dreams, and for his words.


symbols of

The book leaves the

dresms uninterpreted,

snd

though the mesn

is relstively clesr there is no indicstion why these specific symbols are The word for sheaf never appears again in the books with which we have been dealing. However, the notion of binding may imply the unity of each

ing

used.

tribe.

9.

AND HE DREAMED YET ANOTHER

DREAM,

AND TOLD IT HIS

BRETHREN,
THE

AND

SAID, BEHOLD,

I HAVE DREAMED A DREAM

MORE; AND, BEHOLD,

SUN AND THE MOON AND THE ELEVEN STARS MADE OBEISANCE TO ME.
IO. AND HE TOLD IT TO HIS

FATHER,

AND TO HIS BRETHREN: AND HIS FA

THER REBUKED

HIM, AND SAID UNTO HIM, WHAT IS THIS DREAM THAT THOU

HAST DREAMED? SHALL I AND THY MOTHER AND THY BRETHREN INDEED

COME TO BOW DOWN OURSELVES TO THEE TO THE EARTH?

Given the

author's

way

of
ss

relating the
well

world to the

may be intended Egypt Joseph, to


csn rule over

literally
a

ss

metaphorically.

human soul, the dream During his rulership in

large extent, wss sble to rule over the fsmine; snd if he fsmine, he rules over nature, and the sun and the moon do bow

down to him.
1 1
AND HIS BRETHREN ENVIED HIM: BUT HIS FATHER OBSERVED THE MATTER.

12. 13.

AND HIS BRETHREN WENT TO FEED THEIR FATHER'S FLOCK IN SHECHEM. AND ISRAEL SAID UNTO JOSEPH, DO NOT THY BRE I HREN FEED THE FLOCK

IN SHECHEM? TO

COME,

AND I WILL SEND THEE UNTO THEM. AND HE SAID

HIM,

HERE AM I.

The Lion
14-

and the

Ass

269

AND HE SAID TO HIM GO I PRAY THEE, SEE WHETHER IT WILL BE WELL

WITH THY

BRETHREN,

AND WELL WITH THE

FLOCKS;

AND BRING ME WORD

AGAIN. SO HE SENT HIM OUT OF THE VALE OF

HEBRON,

AND HE CAME TO

SHECHEM.

Israel

sent

Joseph to his brothers in Shechem though he hsd

observed

their

feeling
their

towsrd him.

Shechem
snd

wss

the city in which

they hsd slresdy killed


sgain.
mind.

brothers the Hivites


words

in

which

they
am

could

kill

The

Go, I pray
and

thee and

Here

race

through the reader's


once

They
was

are

bits

fragments

of a conversation

he had heard it looks

before. God

asking Abraham to kill his only son, thing will happen again.
Ever
since the sffsir st without established posed

and now

as

though the same

Shechem Jscob knew thst


can see
no

the new

land

could not

be

bloodshed. He his

other solution

to the problem
was sacrific

by

the eminence of
son and

youngest son.

Jacob, like Abraham,

ing

his dearest
on

reflecting

only hoped that through this sacrifice his sons, after the horrors of their own deeds, would be able to pull themselves
s of

together and form

just

society.
wss s

Nesr the
which

end

the dsys of the Judges there

series

of
put

incidents
to sleep,
two sons

mske

it

evident thst
awaken.

Jacob's fesrs,
the

while

they

could

be

would one

day

First,
were

there was the war

between Joseph's
which

Ephraim
thousand
out

and

Manassah, during
Ephraim
of

judgeship
were

of

Jephthah, in
Now
struggle
at

forty-two
pointed

men of

killed (Judg.

12:6).

as we

have

before,

the days

the Judges

a constant

in

which

Israel

would

be conquered,
would arise.

Judge

would arise of

to free them, but

his death

another

enemy three Judges


approached

After the deaths

the Ephraimites there was a series of


record was

who reigned
when

was

The only time in which this two Judges peacefully led Israel after the

in

peace.

kingship

of

Abimelech.

The

problem came

to light sgsin, but this time it

sffected

Joseph's

younger

brother Benjamin
of the

more

directly. The
made

massacre of

the Benjaminites at the end

Book

of

Judges

it

evident

to sll thst Israel

desperately

needed s

king. In

s somewhst more mitigsted

wsy the same theme


the

reoccurred when

Saul

finally
to
all

united

the

people

by hewing

yoke of oxen and

sending the pieces

the tribes as a call to arms against the Ammonite.

15.

AND A CERTAIN MAN FOUND

HIM, AND. BEHOLD, HE WAS WANDERING

IN THE FIELD: AND THE MAN ASKED


l6. AND HE

HIM, SAYING, WHAT

SEEKEST THOU?

SAID, I SEEK MY BRETHREN: TELL ME, I PRAY THEE, WHERE

THEY FEED THEIR FLOCKS.

17.

AND THE MAN

SAID, THEY ARE DEPARTED HENCE: FOR I HEARD THEM

SAY. LET US GO TO DOTHAN. AND JOSEPH WENT AFTER HIS BRETHREN, AND
FOUND THEM IN DOTHAN.

270

Interpretation
the

Fortunately
gone to
msn whose

brothers had left Shechem before Joseph's


srrived st

arrival and

had

Dothan. When Joseph

Shechem he
we

wss met not

by

s mysterious

identity
know

is

not revealed.

Therefore,
that the

do

know
or not

whether

it

was

the

man

with we

whom

Jacob

wrestled

lonely

evening

(Gen.

32:24).

Nor do

whether

it

was one of

men who stood

in front

of

Abra

ham's tent (Gen.

18:2).
which

Dothan,
famous

the

city in

Joseph

was not

killed,

was also

the scene of the


and

war

that wasn't in the time of Elisha (II Kings

6:13

the com

mentary to Gen. 31:45).


AND WHEN THEY SAW HIM AFAR

l8.

OFF,

EVEN BEFORE HE CAME NEAR

UNTO 19. 20.

THEM,

THEY CONSPIRED AGAINST HIM TO SLAY HIM.

AND THEY SAID ONE TO

ANOTHER, BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER COMETH.


AND LET US SLAY

COME

NOW, THEREFORE.
AND WE WILL

HIM,

AND CAST HIM INTO

SOME

PIT;

SAY,

SOME EVIL BEAST HATH DEVOURED HIM: AND

WE SHALL SEE WHAT WILL BECOME OF HIS DREAMS. 21.


AND REUBEN HEARD

IT, AND HE DELIVERED

HIM OUT OF THEIR

HANDS;

AND

SAID,

LET US NOT KILL HIM.

22.

AND REUBEN SAID UNTO

THEM, SHED NO BLOOD, BUT CAST HIM INTO


AND LAY NO HAND UPON

THIS PIT THAT IS IN THE

WILDERNESS,

HIM;

THAT

HE MIGHT RID HIM OUT OF THEIR


AGAIN.

HANDS,

TO DELIVER HIM TO HIS FATHER

Given the fact that Reuben surprising that he


even more should

slept with
one

his father's

wife

in Gen. 35:22, it is

be the

to

try

and

save

his brother's life. It is


returning Reuben's life which

the son
we shall

surprising that he to his fsther. These

should sttempt the most pious solution sre part of the

fragments

of

try

to piece together in the

commentary to Gen.

47:5.

23.

AND IT CAME TO

PASS, WHEN JOSEPH WAS COME UNTO HIS BRETHREN,

THAT THEY STRIPT JOSEPH OUT OF HIS THAT WAS ON HIM. 24.
AND THEY TOOK

COAT,

HIS COAT OF MANY COLOURS

HIM,

AND CAST HIM INTO A PIT: AND THE PIT WAS WATER IN IT.

EMPTY, THERE WAS NO

When the he has in found

author

says

And the

pit

was

empty,

there

was

no

water

in

it,

mind

wster

Chapter Twenty-six, Verse Thirty-seven, in which Isaac finally after all his diggings. If finding water was Isasc's great act then

the availability of such underground sources seems to


springs
of

be

related to

the hidden

tradition.

The implication is thst from

at

lesst

one point of view again.

those sources have dried

up

and

Joseph

will

have to begin

25.

AND THEY SAT DOWN TO EAT BREAD: AND THEY LIFTED UP THEIR EYES

AND

LOOKED,

AND

BEHOLD,

A COMPANY OF ISHMAELITES CAME FROM GIL

The Lion
EAD, WITH

and

the Ass

111
MYRRH, GOING

THEIR CAMELS BEARING SPICERY AND BALM AND

TO CARRY IT DOWN TO EGYPT.

The
sold

caravan of

in Egypt. The brothers do


will

Ishmaelites is csrrying spicery and balm not reslize thst in thirty-five

and myrrh

to be them

yesrs

they

selves

be msking the ssme trip, carrying spicery and balm and myrrh (see Gen. 43:1 1 and for the calculation see the commentary to Gen. 47:28).
,

26.

AND JUDAH SAID UNTO HIS

BRETHREN, WHAT PROFIT

IS IT IF WE SLAY

OUR BROTHER AND CONCEAL HIS BLOOD? 27.

COME,

AND LET US SELL HIM TO THE

ISHMAELITES,

AND LET NOT OUR

HAND BE UPON

HIM;

FOR HE IS OUR BROTHER AND OUR FLESH. AND HIS

BRETHREN HEARD HIM.

While Reuben's
wiser.

plan

was

the more pious, Judah's


several ways.

plan of

seems

to be the

This

wisdom

is displayed in

First

all, he realizes that

if Joseph
again.

were

to return to

He is

also wise

his father's house, the same enough to realize thst Joseph is


circumstsnces.

problems would arise


cspsble of

his If
He

own sffsirs even

in difficult

Perhsps his

greatest wisdom

msnsging is

revealed was

in the twofold
after

nature of shown

the

sppesl

which

he

makes gain

to

his brothers.

only

he had

them that

they

would

murder of

their brother that

he

appealed

to the natural abhorrence of


and to what

nothing by the fratricide.

sppesls

both to

whst

is lowest in them

is highest. Without the


snd without

appeal
sppesl

to the to the

lowest, they would not have heard the highest, highest they would hsve lesrned nothing.

the

28.

AND THERE PASSED BY

MIDIANITES, MERCHANTMEN; AND THEY DREW

AND LIFTED JOSEPH OUT OF THE

PIT,

AND SOLD JOSEPH TO THE ISHMAELITES

FOR TWENTY PIECES OF SILVER: AND THEY BROUGHT JOSEPH INTO EGYPT.

This

passage

has

caused

great

difficulties

over the centuries.

According

to

Verse Twenty-eight,
who

whoever

drew Joseph

out of the pit sold

him to the Ish

him to the Egyptians. This is essentially in agree maelites, states that Potiphar bought Joseph from the which ment with Gen. 39:1, Ishmaelites. One problem remains. According to Verse Thirty-six of the present it was the Midianites who sold Joseph to Potiphar. In addition we must in turn
sold

chapter,

ask ourselves

why the Midianites


given

are mentioned

in the

present verse.

So far

as

the

present author

can see, there exist three possible solutions to the problem.

The
out

traditional of the pit

solution and

by

the Rabbis

is

that the
who

brothers took Joseph


sold

sold

him to the Midianites,

in turn

him to the

Ishmaelites, in

which case we are

to interpret the present verse as

Ishmaelites via the the brothers sold Joseph to the Thirty-six the Midisnites
ern solution
sold

Midianites,

snd

saying that thst in Verse

Joseph to Potiphsr
to
assume

vis

the Ishmselites. The mod

to the

difficulty is

that there were

According

to

one of them

the brothers sold

him

to the

originally two texts. Midianites, but

accord-

272

Interpretation

ing

to the other

they

sold

him to the Ishmaelites. This

position

makes

the

further

assumption

that the redactor was careless or stupid.

There is one other possibility which should be exsmined, though it too hss its difficulties. Since the Midisnite merchsnts sppear right before the words

they drew,
sume thst

the

normsl

it it

wss

wsy of interpreting Verse Twenty-eight the Midisnites who drew Joseph out of the pit

would

be to

ss-

snd sold

him to

the Ishmaelites. Under this assumption Verse Thirty-six would then


preted as was

be inter

by

the Rsbbis. This interpretstion

would slso sccount

for Gen.

42:22, in

which

Reuben ssys, Spake I

not unto you, saying,

Do

not sin against

the child; and ye would not


quired.

hear

me?

Therefore, behold,
he hsd
said would sssume

also

is his blood

re

Reuben obviously hss in

mind whst

in Verse Twenty-two

of the present sbout

chapter, and therefore one


pit rather

thst he is

thinking

more

placing Joseph in the

than about selling him into

slavery.

In

Gen. 42:13 the brothers, thinking of Joseph, merely say And one is not. The phrase is ambiguous becsuse it could mesn either one is not with us or one no
longer exists, thst is to ssy, he is dead. If the latter interpretation is intended,
this
would

imply

that the brothers did in fact believe that an

evil

beast found

Joseph in the tended,

pit and

devoured him. However if the first interpretation is in be


reached. of

no conclusions can

In any case,
themselves ss

even after

they hsve fully


Joseph into

repented slavery.

the brothers never spesk

hsving

sold

Taking
brothers
hsd

the

Midianites,
we sssume

merchantmen ss

the subject of the verb drew


who were plsn

would

mske sense put

if

thst the

Midisnites,

psssing by,
occurred

ssw

the

Joseph into the


to Judsh.
since

pit snd thst the ssme

to them ss

occurred

In the mesntime,
order to

Reuben hsd intended to

return to the pit

secretly in

free Joseph, it is

more thsn

likely

thst he would

have

arranged matters

way thst their meal would have taken plsce st some distsnce from the pit, sllowing him to relesse Joseph without being noticed.
such a

in

This Joseph
own

explsnstion would slso sccount

for the fsct thst

even sfter

they

repent

the brothers never sdmit to selling Joseph. If


out of

it

wss

the Midisnites who took

the pit then it is more thsn the


wild

likely
of

that the

brothers believed

their

story

about

animal.

ancient

commentaries

assumed

Verse Thirty-six many of the that the Ishmaelites bought Joseph from the
assumption
mskes more

Because

brothers
sense

and then

sold

him to the Midianites. This


sssumption of s corruption
need

thsn the

modern

unnecesssry, ss we have seen. One


the author means that the

Midianites

sold

in the text, but it, too, is only assume that in Verse Thirty-six Joseph into Egypt indirectly by sell

ing
and

him to the Ishmaelites.

The

difficulty

with

this

interpretation lies in Chapter


speaks of

Forty-five, Verses
as

Four him

Five, in

which

Joseph clearly
the present

his brothers

having

sold

into Egypt. Two


erally, one

possibilities remain.

If Joseph's

statement

is to be taken lit is left


with

must reject

hypothesis, in

which case one

The Lion

and

the

Ass

273
verb

the ambiguities in the present verse, in which the subject of the


seems

drew
com-

to

be the Midisnites. The

other

possibility
of

will

be discussed in the

mentsry to Gen. 45:3. Although there msy be


other

no clesr

wsy

solving the

present

difficulty,
mstter

several one

notions

present

themselves for

our consideration.

No

how

resds the present chspter

it

seems to

be importsnt to the

suthor

thst the Mid

isnites

were present snd were

thus swsre of the internsl conflicts within Israel.

This msy in part account for their lster actions. On the other hand, since the Ishmaelites are so rarely mentioned in the Bible one feels obliged to give an
account of

their

presence.

It may be that the


with

author wished to connect

Joseph's

journey
29.

over

desert country

the wild ass.

and reuben returned unto the

pit; and, behold, joseph was not

in the 30.

pit;

and he rent his clothes.

and he returned unto his

brethren,

and

said, the child is not;

and

i,

whither shall i go?

31.

and they took joseph's

coat,

and killed a kid of the goats, and

dipped the coat in the


32.

blood; colours,
and they brought it

and they sent the coat of many

to their

father;

and

said,

this have we found: recognize i pray you

whether it be thy son's coat or no.

33.

and he recognized

it,

and said it is my son's

coat;

an evil beast

hath devoured 34.

him;

joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.

and jacob rent his

clothes, and

put sackcloth upon his

loins,

and mourned for his son many days.

35.

and all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort
but he refused to be comforted: and he

him;

said, for i will go

down into the grave unto my son mourning. thus his father wept
FOR HIM.

After

having

heard Judsh, the brothers

csnnot

sctuslly

bring

themselves to

tell the lie

in speech, but Jscob draws the


Jacob

ssme conclusion

an evil

beast hath

devoured him. It is difficult to know


presented whst meant

by

the

words evil

beast. After God


said

the plan

for the Jubilee Year

on which so much

depended, He

the

following:
will give peace

And I

in the land

and ye shall

lie down,

and none shall make you

afraid: and
your

will rid evil

beasts

out

of the

land,

neither shall

the sword go through

land. (Lev. 26:6)


mind when
and

Ezekiel hss Leviticus in


Therefore between
will

he

ssys:

save

my flock,

they

shall no more

be

a prey: and

will judge

cattle and cattle.


even

And I

will set

up

one shepherd over


and

them,

and

he

shall

feed them,

David; he

shall feed

them,

he

shall

be

their shepherd.

And I the

274
Lord

Interpretation
will

be

their

God. And my of the land;

servant

David

a prince

among them; I the Lord have


and will cause the evil

spoken

it. And I

will make with

them a
and

covenant

of peace,

beasts to

cease out

they

shall

dwell safely in

the wilderness, and

sleep in the
Ezekiel'

woods.

(Ez. 34:22-25)

s comment seems to
verse

be right

the

evil

beasts

sre men.

Jscob in this

is

slso

thinking

of men snd

Verse Thirty-five is full


to comfort becsuse
are

of strange psssions.

only hopes the evil beasts will be quieted. The fsther will not be comforted

becsuse he believes thst his

comforters sre slso the murderers.

The

sons wish

they

sre not sure

in

whst

wsy they

sre

guilty
the

snd

in

whst

innocent. The story is further wsy they brothers may now believe their own lie.
36.

complicated

by

fact that the

AND THE MIDIANITES SOLD HIM INTO EGYPT UNTO

POTIPHAR,

AN OFFICER

OF PHARAOH'S AND CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD.

The last

verse of

Chapter Thirty-seven begins life

again

in Egypt. It has

double function. Not only does it sssure us thst we will hesr more of Joseph, but it will slso force us to see Chapter Thirty-eight as part of the Joseph
story.

Forthcoming
Barbara

Articles

Tovey

Shskespesre's
Tempest
snd

Apology

for Imitstive Poetry: The

The Republic
of

Anne M. Cohler

Montesquieu's Perception Spirit of


the

his Audience for The

Laws
of

A.

Anthony

Smith

Ethics

snd

Politics in the World


Ass:
s

Jurgen Hsbermss
on the

Robert Sscks

The Lion

snd the

Commentsry

Book

of

Genesis (Chspters 38-39)


Robert L. Stone

Index to Interpretation, Volumes 1-10

Discussion
Thumos''

Thomss West

Response to Stewart Umphrey's "Eros

and

Reviews
Michsel A. Gillespie
Heidegger'
Time"

Political

"Being and Philosophy by Mark


s

and the

Possibility

of

Blitz

Short Notices
Will

Morrisey

Rousseau's Emile

Introduction, Translation

and

Notes

by

Allan Bloom; Rousseau's Reveries


"Phaedrus"

Translation, Preface, Notes and Interpretive Essay by by Charles E. Butterworth; Plato's


Frankfurt School Political

Ronna Burger; The Political Philosophy of the by George Friedman; Aristotle

on

Reasoning by Larry

Arnhart

ISSN 0020-9635