Partially Examined Life podcast – Aristotle – Politics
On Aristotle’s Politics (350 BCE), books 1 (ch 1-2), 3, 4 (ch 1-3), 5 (ch 1-2), 6 (ch 1-6), and 7 (ch. 1-3, 13-15).
Aristotle provides both a taxonomy of the types of government, based on observations of numerous constitutions of the states of his time, and prescriptions on how to best order a state. These are meant to be practical; though he does spend some time on the “ideal” government, he recognizes that that’s going to be very rare, given that it requires those in charge to be virtuous according to his stringent standards. He provides advice for all the types, whether rule by one, or the few, or the many, to help keep them stable and from drifting into their corrupt forms. He sees the state as a natural outgrowth of human nature, and that one can characterize the health of a state in much the way one can describe the health (i.e. virtue, happiness) of an individual.
You can find the entire unabridged Aristotle podcast, along with dozens of others discussing philosophers from Bentham to Wittgenstein, at the Partially Examined Life website: http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com
About PEL: The podcasters were all graduate students in philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin back in the Clinton years. They all left the program at some point before getting their doctorates and have consequently since had time to get outside that whole weird world of academia and reflect on it and the various philosophical topics with a different, and probably much more lazy, perspective.