by Gene Callahan
I recently saw a prominent anarchist saying, in effect: “Look, we can all go wrong — after all, one of the greatest thinkers in history called man ‘the political animal.'”
This statement, I think, exhibits a common misunderstanding of what Aristotle meant here. Man is a political animal, the Philosopher held, because he is the one animal that tries to order his social arrangements according to his sense of, and rational arguments about, the justice of those arrangements. Thus the anarchist, in debating the justice of the State, is illustrating, and not disputing, Aristotle’s point.
It is, in fact, Hobbes’s position that the anarchist should dispute — if man is not naturally a political animal, then justice is just a creation imposed on the natural human exogenously, and there really is no arguing against the justice of the Leviathan — there simply is no justice in the absence of whatever it defines as just!’