Welcome to EarthColony.net: THE I.Q. ANALOGY, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

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Aristotle’s influence on Western Culture and particularly on American secular society is so substantial that one can say without reservation that we live in an Aristotelian society.  His theories pervade every aspect of our social institutions.  We operate educationally on the basis of his scientific assumptions.  The founders of the United States were all educated within the framework of Latin, Roman law, and the Greek Classics and thus our constitution is an articulation of his theory of democratic government along with some Roman civil law.[1]


In the previous chapter, we noted Aristotle’s definition of ‘Man’: ‘Man is a rational animal’. That definition abounds with implications. For, it is the rational animal that breaks away from his wholeness with nature. It is the rational animal who in so doing sets in motion an infinite series of derivative divisions within himself which in-turn fractures his vision of nature into segregated illusions of oneness.  It is the rational animal that is thrown out of oneness and who can never again grasp his common denominator with all in all.  But where does this take us?


It takes us to Aristotle’s fundamental assumptions which support his theory of development.  His argument that what brings matter into existence and what maintains it as an ‘actually’ existing thing in relation to a ‘potentially’ existing thing necessarily determines social arrangements between all creatures. The unavoidable conclusion is that since Aristotle defines human beings as rational animals, then rationality is that instrument by means of which social hierarchy is politicized to sketch out and measure differences of all sorts between people.[2] 


For Aristotle, there is a ‘natural’ division between human beings which is similar to the division between inorganic and organic matter. It is that there is a division analogous to the division between non-rational animals and rational animals. Within the rational animal category he states that there are lines which segregate humans into different classes, statuses, gender roles, and roles.


At each degree up and down the social hierarchy there is a ratio of greater or lesser ‘intellectual power’ in relation to greater or lesser ‘bodily power’ for the caste or class and for each individual. This social principle is consistent with Aristotle’s assumption of the ratio of potency to actuality (p:a).  It is the capacity and ability to reason and what is more, to reason with foresight. It follows, therefore, that Aristotle concludes that socially, some are fated to be despotos (dictator) and others doulos (slave). [3] 


For Aristotle the superiority of reason is manifested as social advantage for some persons as opposed to disadvantage for others. Aristotle supports this premise with his observations taken from the natural environment. For example, mating competition between animals is the most striking example of the natural dominance of some over other persons. The greater aggression of some makes them rulers while others are naturally subordinated to them.  So pervasive and consistent is this pattern in the natural order that Aristotle defines it as a law of nature or ‘necessity’.[4]  That thesis leads him to the next inference. As a law of nature, it must be manifested in the complex of greater and lesser social statuses possessed by human beings, too.  And, again, Aristotle finds its manifestation described as a ratio of greater or lesser intellectual power in relation to greater or lesser physical power.  He rationalizes social inequality by saying: “It is thus clear that, just as some are by nature free, so others are by nature slaves and for these latter the condition of slavery is both beneficial and just.”[5] 


What would crystallize from this line of reasoning and be drawn on throughout the following two thousand years of anthropology is the ‘I.Q. analogy’. Aristotle states it thus: “…all men who differ from others as much as the body differs from the soul, or an animal from a man…all such are by nature slave,…”[6] Slavery is not only natural it is just and beneficial for  slaves.


This rationalization would be espoused many times in the ante-bellum south of the United States to justify the enslavement of Africans.  Eventually, it would also manifest in other derivative anthropologies and finally it would serve as a conclusion of   eugenics.[7]  But Aristotle does not stop there, he goes on further to develop his argument and so we too must go on tracing over his thoughts as they meander through his lectures and writings. 


Not only does Aristotle make the argument that there are natural intra-group divisions marked by higher or lower intelligence, but there are inter-group divisions marked by the same types of intellectual divisions.  He calls them ‘natural characters’. His hypothesis is that geography and climate are associated with the moral characteristics of a people.  But each human group he argues is divided in two different ways, first, as ‘ethnos’ or culture, and secondly, as ‘genos’ or race.


He says that the nations inhabiting the cold regions are not so intelligent though they possess a strong will.  He then says that the nations of Asia are intelligent, but lack will.  These people, he says, are suitable as slaves.  He finally says that the Greek ‘genos’ (race) participates in both intelligence and ‘will’ and that this is so because it occupies a middle geographical and climatic position. 


He concludes that the Greeks are capable of ruling all mankind.  But he adds something which underscores his definition of genos; he says that the various Greek cultures when compared to one another manifest the same differences as do the Asiatic and Northern European peoples in comparison to the Greek genos.[8]  Such would ultimately be called the ‘master race’. 


The institutionalization of Aristotle’s theory in modern form combined with the two primitive human insecurities, i.e., sexuality and fear are the reasons for human aggression and the varied assortment of vices such as greed.  All of this can be summed up in one word: ‘evil’.  And there is no innocent party. For both the dictator and slave reverse roles through the course of history and are locked into a perpetual embrace as they act out the dance of mutual malevolence.    






[1] Aristotle, Politics

[2] The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy, by Nicholas Lemann; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2000

[3] Aristotle, Politics, Book 1, Chapter 1, 1252b: “The element which is able, by virtue of its intelligence, to exercise forethought is naturally a ruling and master element; the element which is able, by virtue of its bodily power, to do what the other element plans, is a ruled element, which is naturally in a state of slavery…” Adopted from: Great Books of The Western World

[4] Aristotle, Politics, book 1, chapter V, subsection 8: “There is a principle of rule and subordination in nature at large; it appears especially in the realm of animate creation.”

[5] Ibid, 1255b

[6] Ibid, Book I, chapter V, subsection 8

[7] Classification of Men According to Their Natural Gifts, by Francis Galton

[8] Ibid, Book VII, adopted from Aristotle in twenty-three volumes, XXI Politics, Translation by H. Backham, Harvard University Press, CambridgeMassachusetts, London, England, 1932