Whether on matters of politics or physics, Aristotle's criticism of his predecessors is not generally considered a model of charitable interpretation. He seems to prefer, as Christopher Rowe puts it, "polemic over accuracy" (2003, 90). His criticism of the Laws is particularly puzzling: It is much shorter than his discussion of the Republic and raises primarily technical objections of questionable validity. Indeed, some well-known commentators have concluded the criticisms, as we have them in the Politics, were made of an earlier draft of the Laws and that Plato, in light of these criticisms, revised the final version. I hope to suggest, however, that these incongruities should lead us to look beyond Aristotle's explicit criticisms to an issue he also omits while discussing the Republic, namely, the character of philosophy and its place in political life.

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Copyright © 2013 University of Notre Dame Press. This chapter first appeared in Natural Right and Political Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Catherine Zuckert and Michael Zuckert.

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