Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:


With Mishana Hosseinioun

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

You talking to me, Aristotle?
'Man is by nature a political animal' - Aristotle, The politics

By Mishana Hosseinioun

June 14, 2005

In questioning the relevance of such an utterance in San Francisco, USA, today, we must first put certain things into perspective. It is safe to assume that in the period of 335 to 323 BC, Greece, in which Aristotle wrote The Politics, the expression, man, in the general sense, did not concurrently implicate woman, or transsexual for that matter, as it does in this day and age. In fact, Aristotle made this pronouncement at a time when all women, homebound, were neither considered citizens nor possessed any civic rights in Athenian society. Still, it would take another twenty-some hundred years after the famed philosopher's death for women to start gaining such rights in the form of suffrage and birth control.

Call Aristotle a thinker ahead of his time, or a visionary in the most prophetic sense of the word, but for a millennium or two, man was presumed the de facto political animal, while woman just sat out the political bandwagon altogether. Some may argue she still does. I will argue that we all do-man and woman alike, including every lesbian, gay, bi- or transsexual among us-even in our self-proclaimed right-wing heart of hearts or ultra-lefty core of cores. Otherwise said, the original definition of political has been lost to us over time. So has genuine recognition of our true, political anima or Jungian inner-selves.

Let's just say that, politically, we derailed a long time ago. Revisiting Aristotle, then, may not be such a bad idea.

In Greek, the term politics or Politikoj is anything but what it has come to mean today. Political is not about party lines and campaigns and the scandals we have come to know all too well. Instead, politics, plainly, and simply, has everything to do with the natural, social beings-citizens-that we are, and very little to do with the socially divisive turn we have taken in the twenty-first century into our respective partisan cubbyholes. By Political Animal or Politikon Zoon, which means `who lives, whose nature is to live, in a polis (state),' Aristotle did not have red or blue in mind; and most certainly, his idea of a political animal was neither a donkey nor an elephant.

According to Aristotle, what sets us apart from all other intelligent animals, such as bees and ferrets, is the gift of speech. This ability in turn allows us to articulate our perception of right and wrong, and by extension, justice and injustice. Thus, in keeping with our discerning nature, let us not limit ourselves to the artificial confines of a particular party or political organization, when as individuals we are, in and of ourselves, our very own, homegrown, organic and inimitable political body.

Mishana Hosseinioun is the Program Director of International Convention on Human Rights (ICHR), a non-profit dedicated to drafting a legally enforceable international human rights document. She is a longstanding intern in Mayor Gavin Newsom's office in San Francisco and a recent graduate of Rhetoric and Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Email Mishana at Mishana@ichr.org


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa