Cancel Aristotle?

A piece at The New York Times notes that Aristotle would be out-of-step with contemporary “cancel culture.”

The Greek philosopher Aristotle did not merely condone slavery, he defended it; he did not merely defend it, but defended it as beneficial to the slave. His view was that some people are, by nature, unable to pursue their own good, and best suited to be “living tools” for use by other people: “The slave is a part of the master, a living but separated part of his bodily frame.”

Aristotle’s anti-liberalism does not stop there. He believed that women were incapable of authoritative decision making. And he decreed that manual laborers, despite being neither slaves nor women, were nonetheless prohibited from citizenship or education in his ideal city.

Two thoughts come immediately to mind.

First, the early Christians really did attempt to cancel Aristotle, and very nearly succeeded. Had a few brave scholars not smuggled Aristotle’s writings to Arabic scholars, all of Aristotle’s works would have been lost. As it is, his work was unknown in the West for more than 700-years. You can read all about it in The Darkening Age, by Catherine Nixey.

Second, much of the contemporary egalitarian outlook rests upon embarrassingly naive fantasy. The differences between men and women run deeper than plumbing. Some people really are idiots who need to be told what to do. And, as the election of Donald Trump shows, notions of the wisdom of “the people” is the sentimental mythology of fools.

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