I’m working on a paper on politeuma, a Greek word sometimes translated as government and sometimes translated as constitution, in Aristotle. Some ancient scholars argue that sometimes Aristotle means government by the term and sometimes he means constitution by the term. I think that drawing that distinction is a uniquely modern way of thinking about the relation and we might be well-served to consider the dual meaning of the term without trying to distinguish those meanings.
I’m also teaching a class on Rousseau this semester where we’ve been reading Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality as well as On Social Contract. I began to make an argument as a sidenote in the paper on Aristotle distinguishing Rousseau from Aristotle when I drew up short and realized that their positions might be so very close together that the differences between them might shed some light on the relationship between government and constitution in Aristotle and Rousseau. In the spirit of public philosophy, I’m presenting that argument here. I’m keen to hear your thoughts. Read more