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After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule, is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.

How to paraphrase the sentence:

  1. "a government...cannot be based on justice", can I read it as "a government...is impossible to be built based on justice"?
  2. How to understand "even as far as men understand it"? Does it mean "even to the limitation of men's understanding of the government" or "even according to the limitation that men can understand the government" or something else?

1 Answer 1

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  1. Yes.
  2. As I read it, it's not "even to the limitation of men's understanding of the government" but rather "even to the limitation of men's understanding of justice". I.e. human justice is less perfect than true justice; but it doesn't even hold up to the standards of human justice (which is the more lenient form of justice compared to true justice).
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  • Do you mean "it" refers to "justice" and "even as far as men understand it" modify "justice" as well?
    – Leon Zero
    May 29, 2017 at 11:26
  • @LeonZero: That is what I understand from it, yes. It is adding the comment that people's understanding of justice is not perfect.
    – Flater
    May 29, 2017 at 11:51

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