14 January 2017

People Management

Aristotle asserted that the state is  constituted of households--not individuals. But just as households are parts of the state, individuals are parts of the household. He argues that household management, then, is more than acquiring and managing property needed for securing one's needs.  In his words:

"Thus it is clear that household management attends more to men than to the acquisition of inanimate things, and to humans excellence more that to the excellence of property which we call wealth . . . "

Aristotle announces in Book I of Politics to discuss the relationships between household members--husband, wife, children, and slaves. Perhaps today we might call this most important function of the family personality formation. But he never expounds upon it.  He vaguely alludes to the virtues explicated in his earlier work Ethics and their importance regarding members of the household. And he fails to even develop that theme. He merely notes the importance of habituation in the formation of virtue and the propriety of the household as the context for this purpose:

“The instruction and habits prescribed by a father have as much force in the household as laws and custom have in the state, and even more because of the tie of blood and the children's sense of benefits received, for they are influences from the outset by natural affection and docility.”

The important thing to take from this for conservatism is the crucial role that households play in the making of citizens. Many of our most pressing social problems exist as moral problems reflecting the failure of households in molding citizens.

Aristotle sums up this point nicely:

"For in as much as every family is a part of a state, and there relationships are the parts of a family, and the virtue of the part must have regard to the virtue of the whole, women and children must be trained by education wit an eye to the constitution if the virtues of either of them are supposed to make any difference in the virtues of the state. And they must make a difference; for the children grow up to be citizens, and half the free persons in a state are women."

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