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In Search for the Best Constitution

Author(s): Horst Leps

Journal: Journal of Social Science Education
ISSN 1611-9665

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2004;

"What is the best constitution and the best form of life for most nations and mankind? It is first, a form of everyday life that the majority of people is able to conduct, and which is the constitution most nations could adapt to easily." (Aristotle) Till today, this Aristotelian question is the central question of political philosophy and institution building. To solve this question, on the one hand Aristotle referred back to a concept by Herodot, which distinguishes between monarchy, oligarchy and democracy. On the other hand, he used the analysis made by Plato in his famous work "Politeia". Aristotle collected, described and compared about 158 constitutions of his time. He discovered two basic conditions which guarantee a stable community and are suitable for ordinary people: a well balanced social structure and possibilities for participation that are accessible to all social groups. Pupils are involved in this historical process of social discovery by simulation and thinking exercises. During the project they experience practically and work out theoretically the possible threat to community and state institutions. They create their favourite political system - partly from their own imagination and partly by consulting the work of Aristotle. Finally they design a social and a political system. In doing so they gain knowledge and deep insight in respect to the tasks and difficulties that a political system should be able to cope with and solve. This will lead them, in the future, to a better understanding of their own nation's constitution.

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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