Civil Society: Modern Aristotelian Polis?
This chapter proposes a more contemporary model of civil society, one built directly on the neo-Aristotelian principles of autonomy, capabilities and flourishing. While civil society has only recently become a fairly fashionable term for political philosophers, the idea is certainly not new. The first historical model of civil society, that of the political commonwealth, is the legacy of Greek and Roman philosophy. While the Church concurred with the Classical view that the Universe is an ordered and harmonious Cosmos, with an appropriate place and function for all that is within it, it naturally sought the foundation of that order not in human reason but rather in the Divine. It is a societal group which is built on a shared commitment to autonomy, capability-building and flourishing, one that is stably bound together by values which are defensible, but which also allow ample room for the plurality, diversity and individual freedom upon which the long-term health of any modern Aristotelian polis depends.