H Arendt and Aristoi

The distinction between man and animal runs right through the human species itself: only the best (aristoi) , who constantly prove themselves to be the best (aristeuein, a verb for which there is no equivalent in any other language) and who "prefer immortal fame to mortal things," are really human; the others, content with whatever pleasures nature will yield them, live and die like animals.

We will see this same thought again in L Strauss, A Kojeve, but therefore also in F Fukuyama. In my view, it substitutes the effect (aristoi) for the cause. In Aristotle, aristocracy is the expected outgrowth of leisure, wealth, education, and good health. This is a deliberate reversal of Plato’s order, which holds that the effects of leisure, wealth, education, and good health are but the outward expressions of inner excellence. Arendt will therefore embrace the implicit view common to nearly all Chicago School members; namely, that the "social" is what makes us indistinguishable from other animals.

Comments are closed.