Are we experiencing a global religious war, a "clash of civilizations," or "the end of history"? Does American foreign policy represent a "Hobbesian" approach to the world in contrast to Europe's "Kantian" approach? Must we insist upon or put aside considerations of "good and evil" when we discuss foreign affairs? Is there such a thing as a "just war," and if so, what is it, and did we just wage one?
These questions and others of equal scope have been forced to the forefront of public debate by the great events, not only of the past year and a half but of the past decade and a half. They all remind us why Aristotle considered the art or science of politics to be the most comprehensive and authoritative—the architectonic—art or science. Politics cannot avoid consideration of first principles and final ends. It cannot avoid the most comprehensive questions about human choices and actions, about human purposes, about the human good. This is why Aristotle understood practical wisdom—the defining virtue of the statesman—to be the most comprehensive and authoritative intellectual and moral virtue: the capacity to know what is good and to know how to do it in the most complex and momentous situations.
It is the necessity for this understanding of politics that gave rise 25 years ago to the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy.
For signs that Aristotle continues to speak to prospective statesmen in the English-speaking world, see the most recent Claremont Review of Books for Susan D. Collins's thought-provoking review of a handful of recent English translations of Aristotle's indispensable Nicomachean Ethics.
For signs that, when Aristotle speaks, people listen, see Carnes Lord's review, in the same issue, of Aristotle and Modern Politics, where Lord explains Aristotle's "ability to appeal to self-confessed liberals, libertarians, communitarians, social democrats, and otherwise respectable American scholars in search of exits from various blind alleys of contemporary thought and practice."
To refresh yourself on the intricacies of "Just-War Theory," and its applications to our recent (current?) war, you will not find a more lucid guide than Michael Uhlmann, who writes on "The Uses and Abuses" of the doctrine in the same action-packed issue.
Aristotle would also without question agree that the Claremont Review of Books is, in itself, beautiful, and pleasant to the touch. Please subscribe, or seek it out at your local newsstand or bookseller, so that your fingers and eyes can serve your mind as nature meant them to do.