Aristotle on Natural Slavery: An Analysis Using the Marxist Concept of Ideology

Science and Society 83 (2):244-267 (2019)
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Aristotle’s account of natural slavery as presented in his Politics is often treated by historians of philosophy as an account that can be analyzed purely internally in terms of its argumentative structure without referring to social factors. Against this view, Aristotle’s account of natural slavery is seen to be ideological according to at least one variant of the Marxist concept of ideology, and cannot be understood without reference to Aristotle’s socioeconomic context. The ideological nature of Aristotle’s account of natural slavery is especially evident in his “proto-racialization” of the category of the “natural slave.” The Marxist concept of ideology is demonstrably useful in the historical study of philosophy, as compared with internalist historians of philosophy who claim that referring to nonphilosophical factors such as class interests inevitably obscures the philosophical content of the texts that are the objects of analysis.
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