Saturday, November 26, 2022


Strength in Numbers

Aristotle, Politics 3.11.2-3 1281a-b (tr. C.D.C. Reeve):
For the many, who are not as individuals excellent men, nevertheless can, when they have come together, be better than the few best people, not individually but collectively, just as feasts to which many contribute are better than feasts provided at one person's expense. For being many, each of them can have some part of virtue and practical wisdom, and when they come together, the multitude is just like a single human being, with many feet, hands, and senses, and so too for their character traits and wisdom. That is why the many are better judges of works of music and of the poets. For one of them judges one part, another another, and all of them the whole thing.

τοὺς γὰρ πολλούς, ὧν ἕκαστός ἐστιν οὐ σπουδαῖος ἀνήρ, ὅμως ἐνδέχεται συνελθόντας εἶναι βελτίους ἐκείνων, οὐχ ὡς ἕκαστον ἀλλ' ὡς σύμπαντας, οἷον τὰ συμφορητὰ δεῖπνα τῶν ἐκ μιᾶς δαπάνης χορηγηθέντων· πολλῶν γὰρ ὄντων ἕκαστον μόριον ἔχειν ἀρετῆς καὶ φρονήσεως, καὶ γίνεσθαι συνελθόντων, ὥσπερ ἕνα ἄνθρωπον τὸ πλῆθος, πολύποδα καὶ πολύχειρα καὶ πολλὰς ἔχοντ' αἰσθήσεις, οὕτω καὶ περὶ τὰ ἤθη καὶ τὴν διάνοιαν. διὸ καὶ κρίνουσιν ἄμεινον οἱ πολλοὶ καὶ τὰ τῆς μουσικῆς ἔργα καὶ τὰ τῶν ποιητῶν· ἄλλοι γὰρ ἄλλο τι μόριον, πάντα δὲ πάντες.

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