Aristotle tries to prove that his theses regarding the importance of slavery are true and therefore he says that – by nature – some individuals are free and some are not.
He explains this thought using a scientific thesis, in fact he explains that the slave by nature is destined for the job that suits him best (in fact, to serve his master) and no one better than him could surpass him in this activity.
He calls the slave to an “animated object of property” which is superior only to inanimate objects and animals (means of production) and is indispensable for the entire social organization because he is the only one capable of exploiting the objects of production.
The slave has by nature those abilities that serve to control inanimate things and animals, thus placing them at the service of the master.
It is also indispensable because its function is reduced to the use of physical forces, in fact nature has deprived it of the reason that it can only learn.
Aristotle has a very precise opinion regarding slavery in fact he argues, perhaps influenced by the opinion of that time which saw the slave as an indispensable object for daily life, not only that the submission of some is a completely natural thing but also says that the submissive must recognize his own nature and accept it.
Reconstruct the classification of beings (gods, free men, women, slaves, animals) that Aristotle presents to give an anthropological foundation to slavery.
Aristotle divides society according to a classification dictated by nature: at the top he places the Gods even if these are not fully active and present in society and, at the base he places the animals because they are without reason.
It can therefore be argued that the primary rung of this hierarchical ladder is occupied by free men because only they, thanks to the use of reason, can govern and regulate life in the Polis.
The free man is placed at the top not for a subjective decision but to respect a precise design of nature that regulates the division of society, in fact Aristotle says: “The being who can foresee with intelligence is leader by nature, is master by nature, while the one who can work hard with the body is subject and therefore by nature a slave “so the free is by birth able to command.
The authority belongs to the free man because the soul dominates the body with the authority of the master, the intelligence dominates desire with the authority of the statesman or king.
Aristotle places a clear difference between slaves and free people, in fact he explains and repeatedly reiterates that by nature the former have a robust body while for the free the body is useless for heavy activities but suitable for political life.
The slave or the animated object is important because an individual, object or animal is what it is since nature has decided, in fact there is no one who can do the work of a slave better than a slave himself.
Aristotle also explains what is the subtle difference between a slave and an animal, the former possesses a minimal part of the deliberative capacity unlike animals, furthermore the slave is not subject to impressions like animals but can learn reason even if he cannot possess it . Aristotle still places woman and children in subordination of man, even if in a different way and in a position superior to that of slaves, woman possesses the deliberative capacity in a reduced way, but it is important because she is better in housework.
Instead, the son is potentially the future mature man and therefore the boss because he has all the deliberative capacity but has not yet fully developed it.
Polis – Apolis: The state (“polis”) exists by nature and is the goal of the communities of men who, being sociable, feel the need to get together and for this reason to give themselves rules and laws.
On the other hand, all those who are superior and self-sufficient (Gods) or those who are abject are excluded from the polis, or like animals, not being endowed with reason, they do not feel the need to create community.
To command – To be commanded: The whole system is regulated because there is someone who naturally commands and consequently there is someone to command who accepts his situation of subordination, Aristotle argues that: “the best command is always the one that is exercised on the best commanded “. Only those who are capable of reasoning and deciding can command.
Superior – Inferior: For the same reasons in which one commands and the other is commanded, a distinction can be created between beings, who are always by nature superior (“who commands” as they possess a greater deliberative capacity), and inferior beings (“who is commanded” as they have little or no deliberative capacity).
Soul – Body: The body is subject to the soul and rightly so; since the body can be compared to the slave and the soul or reason to the master, it can be concluded that it is right for the slave to be subject to the master. It can also be concluded that the slave, who has no reason of his own, cannot satisfy his own desires and must therefore fulfill those of his master.
Possession of the logos – Apprehension of the logos: According to Aristotle only the free man, since he possesses the logos (reason), can command. The woman, the boy, the slave are instead subject to the will of the free man because they do not possess reason on a par with the latter. The slave, for example, can learn reason but not being able to possess it, he cannot make decisions.