Aristotle: Politics Summary

March 16, 2013

aristotle politics

Aristotle: Politics from the ideal to the real world

Unlike most philosophers, Aristotle’s political experience is undeniable as he was tutor of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia’s. Vs Plato, Aristotle has nurtured his political power while coasting in attending as Plato and his political theories. Politics, his work on political philosophy major result of these experiences, which sit the legitimacy of this work.

Policy aims to define political science and its object via a description of the nature of political regimes. The approach of Aristotle differs from Plato, who prefers to build an ideal political system and theoretical, while Aristotle prefers a realistic and descriptive, which prefigures sociological approaches or phenomenological twentieth century.

Overview of Aristotle’s Politics:

All associations are formed in order to achieve the Good, Aristotle poses in the preamble. Greek city, or polis, the association is most common in the Greek world, containing all other associations, such as families and associations. As such, the City should seek the greatest good. This induces a teleological vision of politics. Aristotle concludes that “man is a political animal” we can not achieve the good life by living in a polis. In presenting the economic relations within the city, Aristotle defends private property, capitalism condemns excessive and slavery.

Aristotle identifies citizenship with the exercise of a public charge. In the case of a revolution, where citizenship and constitutional change, the citizen can not be held responsible for his actions before the revolution. This principle guided all amnesty laws around the world.

Aristotle and the six forms of political regimes:

Aristotle identifies six types of constitution, three to be fair (monarchy / aristocracy / democracy), and three considered unfair (tyranny / oligarchy / anarchy). The test of a constitution is the common good: a plan is just as it benefits everyone:

  • The Monarchy: A constitution is a monarchy if power is exercised by a person and that the laws are the public good. But if the monarch has the power in the interest of the monarchy becomes tyranny.
  • The aristocracy is an aristocracy constitution when the power is controlled by an elite for the good of all, but degenerates into an oligarchy if the leaders are bad.
  • Democracy: democracy is the regime of the people but the plan may pay into anarchy when demagogues take power.

Justice in Politic

Aristotle proposes a principle of distributive justice, so that benefits are distributed to different people in different ways, depending on the contribution of each to the welfare of the city.

In books IV to VI, Aristotle turns his theoretical speculations to look like a politoloque political institutions as they exist in the Greek world. He observes that needs Cities vary widely in terms of their wealth, their people, their political classes. The highest voltage recorded by Aristotle economic inequality between rich and poor, generating division in the Cities. That is why Aristotle advocates the establishment of a strong middle class, the only way to maintain a balance and protect the city against corruption and oppression. In this, Aristotle political intuition is quite modern and inspire particular Rawls in his Theory of Justice.

Aristotle and the separation of powers

The three branches of government are the legislative civic (based on the deliberation meeting), the executive and the judiciary: the legislature creates the laws that the executive implements and enforces the judiciary. According to Aristotle, the access to public office does not have to be equal, but we must be careful to exclude a group of power, because the exclusion of power is the seed of sedition, ie the regime’s corruption. Powers have to be separated.

In books VII and VIII, Aristotle draws his ideal state: the Constitution’s role would be to ensure the happiness of each and all, promoting life theoretical (contemplative life facing the wisdom and the search for truth). Because even though Aristotle gives to political action a certain dignity, the fact remains that the intellectual life must prevail because the policy is to be used as a means of contemplation. The ideal city should be big enough to live in self-sufficiency, but small enough to ensure the social link between people. Of course, this conception of the perfect state based on two assumptions:

  • A direct regime (non-representative)
  • Slavery, which allows citizens to exercise their public duties. Slavery and the condition of the freedom of the citizen. This point will angle of attack to Hegel’s Philosophy of Right to denounce the so-called “beautiful Greek liberty” actually based on slavery.

Conclusion on Aristotle’s Political Thought:

Aristotle, representative of the rationalist tradition in politics, his political theory based on naturalistic assumptions (man must live in community) and defends a conception of citizenship sophisticated, making civic engagement a cornerstone of a good constitution. His approach to non-normative constitutions is an innovation. In summary, whatever the form of government, only account its nature and principle. This is a lesson that retain Montesquieu in The Spirit of Laws.