Saturday, February 19, 2011

Did Southerners Cite Aristotle?

Southerners in the antebellum period famously invoked the Bible to justify the institution of slavery. One would think that they would also have cited Aristotle, who concluded in Book 1 of the Politics that slavery could be "advantageous and just":
But we must next consider whether or not anyone exists who is by nature of this character, and whether it is advantageous and just for anyone to be a slave, or whether on the contrary all slavery is against nature. And it is not difficult either to discern the answer by theory or to learn it empirically. Authority and subordination are conditions not only inevitable but also expedient; in some cases things are marked out from the moment of birth to rule or to be ruled.
And yet, I have never run across a single instance in which a southerner cited or quoted Aristotle in support of the peculiar institution. Have you?

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