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America, Aristotle, and the Politics of a Middle Class

By Leslie G. Rubin

America, Aristotle, and the Politics of a Middle Class
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Hardback, 310 pages $49.95
Published: 15th March 2018
ISBN: 9781481300544
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Philosophy, All Political Science

Aristotle’s political imagination capitalizes on the virtues of a middle-class republic. America’s experiment in republican liberty bears striking similarities to Aristotle’s best political regime—especially at the point of the middling class and its public role. Author Leslie Rubin, by holding America up to the mirror of Aristotle, explores these correspondences and their many implications for contemporary political life.  

Rubin begins with the Politics, in which Aristotle asserts the best political regime maintains stability by balancing oligarchic and democratic tendencies, and by treating free and relatively equal people as capable of a good life within a law-governed community that practices modest virtues.  

The second part of the book focuses upon America, showing how its founding opinion leaders prioritized the virtues of the middle in myriad ways. Rubin uncovers a surprising range of evidence, from moderate property holding by a large majority of the populace to citizen experience of both ruling and being ruled. She singles out the importance of the respect for the middle-class virtues of industriousness, sobriety, frugality, honesty, public spirit, and reasonable compromise. Rubin also highlights the educational institutions that foster the middle class—public education affords literacy, numeracy, and job skills, while civic education provides the history and principles of the nation as well as the rights and duties of all its citizens.  

Wise voices from the past, both of ancient Greece and postcolonial America, commend the middle class. The erosion of a middle class and the descent of political debate into polarized hysteria threaten a democratic republic. If the rule of the people is not to fall into demagoguery, then the body politic must remind itself of the requirements—both political and personal—of free, stable, and fair political life.

"By placing Aristotle and American founding thought in dialogue, Leslie Rubin shows that freedom and equality are protected not merely by institutional arrangements such as checks and balances but by a middle class and its way of life. She demonstrates that Aristotle helps us to understand our own political system, and at the same time she gives a defense of American politics, and indeed, of politics more generally. America, Aristotle, and the Politics of a Middle Class is an original and path-breaking work."

—Mary Nichols, Professor of Political Science, Baylor University

"The relation between classical political thought and practice to the American regime, especially in the founding era, has been a subject of much discussion and debate over the past half century or so. These discussions have not always been satisfactory because they have been conducted among scholars of America whose knowledge of the classical sources is shaky at best. Leslie Rubin's book raises the discussion to a new level because she is a classical scholar with a deep knowledge of the ancients and an equally impressive knowledge of the Americans."

—Michael Zuckert, Nancy R. Dreux Professor of Political Science, Notre Dame University

"Most people assume that classical political philosophy can’t possibly be relevant to the modern world. Leslie Rubin, however, is wise enough to see, and learned enough to explain for us, Aristotle’s very real importance to understanding the American regime. This book is an excellent resource for students of Aristotle, students of the American founding, and for all those who wish to think more deeply about how America can preserve a stable and just politics based on the flourishing of a decent and moderate middle class."

—Carson Holloway, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Leslie Rubin (1954–2017) was an independent scholar that taught political philosophy and American politics at Kenyon College, the University of Houston, and Duquesne University. She was retired from the directorship of the North American Chapter of the Society for Greek Political Thought.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 310 pages
 9in x 6in

  PHI019000, POL007000, POL040000
 Baylor University Press

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