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Aristotle’s Political Economy: Three Waves of Interpretation

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Aristotle’s thoughts on economic matters are included in his inquiry into the nature of politics. They are certainly ancillary to his thoughts on the education requisite for excellence. Yet this ranking should not cause one to overlook Aristotle’s contributions to the field of normative political economy. To appreciate these contributions, it is helpful to look to the scholarship on Aristotle’s political economy. In this essay such an inquiry is approached through categorizing the scholarship into three stages or waves of interpretation: 1) ‘Aristotle’s Economic Thought’ (Karl Polanyi and M.I. Finely), 2) ‘Aristotle’s “Political” Economy’, (William James Booth, Abram Shulsky, Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr.), and 3) ‘Aristotle on the Best Possible Political Economy’ (Michael D. Chan, Victor Davis Hanson, and Judith Swanson). The overall goal of this essay is to provide an account of the stages by which it might be useful to think through Aristotle’s political economy.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Rochester Institute of Technology92 Lomb Memorial Dr., Rochester, ny


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