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Ancient Slavery and AbolitionFrom Hobbes to Hollywood$
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Richard Alston, Edith Hall, and Justine McConnell

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574674

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574674.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 September 2021

Recollecting Aristotle

Recollecting Aristotle

Pro-Slavery Thought in Antebellum America and the Argument of Politics Book I

(p.247) 9 Recollecting Aristotle
Ancient Slavery and Abolition

S. Sara Monoson

Oxford University Press

Southern academics, politicians, and polemicists claimed Aristotle as a notable progenitor of the proslavery cause. This chapter argues that this use of Aristotle was more than ‘learned embroidery’ but a significant consideration of his political philosophy. It details three contexts within which these propagandists turned to Aristotle: they relied upon Aristotle to anchor their proslavery activism in a sophisticated philosophical objection to natural rights theory; they appealled to Aristotle to shore up their view that the North practiced wage slavery; they exploited Aristotle’s theory of natural slavery to identify black Africans as slaves. The widespread practice among Southern intellectuals of citing of Aristotle is not ornamental but evidence of a dynamic engagement. The Aristotle they prize may be nearly unrecognizable to today’s moral philosophers and political scientists but this episode in the reception history of Politics Book I shows that Aristotle could provide an intellectual framework for a toxic way of thinking about human differences.

Keywords:   Aristotle, Calhoun, natural slavery, proslavery, Fitzhugh, religion, race

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