Book III of Aristotle’s Politics looks on its surface like the work’s most narrowly “political” book. It channels partisan voices of democrats and oligarchs, who occasionally even swear at each other. It also begins the eminently practical exercise of political compromise, combining features of democracy and oligarchy into a new constitution, a “mixed regime.”
Despite this apparent practicality, it is the thesis of Delba Winthrop’s posthumously published Aristotle: Democracy and Political Science that Book III also contains a metaphysical inquiry which underlies its political one. Her line-by-line, occasionally syllable-by-syllable commentary on the text contains more than a dozen references to Aristotle’s Metaphysics and seven to Jacob Klein’s Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra (1968). Winthrop’s question is: Do aggregates of distinct parts ever form a unified whole? Whether it be in politics, in the soul, or in the cosmos, can unum ever really come into being e pluribus?
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