what branches of knowledge the different classes of the citizens are to learn, and up to
what point; and we observe that even the most highly esteemed of the faculties, such as
strategy, domestic economy, oratory, are subordinate to the political science.
Inasmuch then as the rest of the sciences are employed by this
one, and as it moreover lays down laws as to what people shall do and what things they
shall refrain from doing, the end of this science must include the ends of all the others.
Therefore, the Good of man must be the end of the science of Politics.
For even though it be the case that the Good is the same for the
individual and for the state, nevertheless, the good of the state is manifestly a greater
and more perfect good, both to attain and to preserve.1
To secure the
good of one person only is better than nothing; but to secure the good of a nation or a
state is a nobler and more divine achievement.
This then being its aim, our investigation is in a sense the study of Politics.3.
Now our treatment of this science will be adequate, if it achieves that amount of
precision which belongs to its subject matter. The same exactness must not be expected in
all departments of philosophy alike, any more than in all the products of the arts and
The subjects studied by political science are
and Justice; but these conceptions involve much
difference of opinion and uncertainty, so that they are sometimes believed to be mere
conventions and to have no real existence in the nature of things.
And a similar uncertainty surrounds the conception of the Good, because
it frequently occurs that good things have harmful consequences: people have before now
been ruined by wealth, and in other cases courage has cost men their lives.
We must therefore be content if, in dealing with subjects
and starting from premises thus uncertain, we
succeed in presenting a broad outline of the truth: when our subjects and our premises are
merely generalities, it is enough if we arrive at generally valid conclusions. Accordingly
we may ask the student also to accept the various views we put forward in the same spirit;
for it is the mark of an educated mind to expect that amount of exactness in each kind
which the nature of the particular subject admits. It is equally unreasonable to accept
merely probable conclusions from a mathematician and to demand strict demonstration from
Again, each man judges correctly those matters with which he is acquainted; it is of
these that he is a competent critic.