Aristotle’s Method in the Politics
I have already described the complex activity that Aristotle understood political theory to be (Chapter 1). It is now necessary to look more deeply into the question concerning his method in carrying out that activity. By ‘method’ I refer to Aristotle’s procedure when he identifies and classifies objects; in effect method refers to the principles that underlie and guide these two processes. Thus understood ‘method’ is in part descriptive and in part explanatory. It is descriptive in so far as it results in an enumeration of the variety of political entities (constitutions) and suggests an order among them; it is explanatory in so far as it attempts to give a reasoned account of why these entities are as they are and why they exhibit the order they do. This chapter takes up only the former of these two concerns; I examine the latter in Chapter 6.
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