The paper also introduce the teachings of Aristotle pertaining to the issues of the state or a country.
The Politics of Aristotle is the second part of a treatise of which the Ethics is the first part. It will be related to the type of politics here in the Philippines. It looks back to the Ethics as the Ethics looks forward to the Politics. For Aristotle did not separate, as we are inclined to do, the spheres of the statesman and the moralist.
In the Ethics he has described the character necessary for the good life, but that life is for him essentially to be lived in society, and when in the last chapters of the Ethics he comes to the practical application of his inquiries, that finds expression not in moral exhortations addressed to the individual but in a description of the...
legislative opportunities of the statesman. It is the legislator's task to frame a society which shall make the good life possible.
Politics for Aristotle is not a struggle between individuals or classes for power, nor a device for getting done such elementary tasks as the maintenance of order and security without too great encroachments on individual liberty. The state is "a community of well-being in families and aggregations of families for the sake of a perfect and self-sufficing life. " The legislator is a craftsman whose material is society and whose aim is the good life. In an early dialogue of Plato's, the Protagoras, Socrates asks Protagoras why it is not as easy to find teachers of virtue as it is to find teachers of swordsmanship, riding, or any other art.
Protagoras' answer is that ther
are no special teachers of virtue, because virtue is taught by the whole community. Plato and Aristotle both accept the view of moral education implied in this answer. In a passage of the Republic (492 b) Plato repudiates the notion that the sophists have a corrupting moral influence upon young men. The public themselves, he says, are the real sophists and the most complete and thorough educators. No private education can hold out against the irresistible force of public opinion and the ordinary moral standards of society.
But that makes it all the more essential that public opinion and social environment should not be left to grow up at haphazard as they ordinarily do, but should be made by the wise legislator the expression of the good and be informed in all their details by his knowledge. The legislator is the only possible teacher of virtue. Such a programme for a treatise on government might lead us to expect in the Politics mainly a description of a Utopia or ideal state which might inspire poets or philosophers but have little direct effect upon political institutions.
Plato's Republic is obviously impracticable, for its author had turned away in despair from existing politics. He has no proposals, in that dialogue at least, for making the best of things as they are. The first lesson his philosopher has to learn is to turn away from this world of becoming and decay, and to look upon the unchanging eternal world of ideas. Thus his ideal city is, as he says, a pattern laid up in heaven by which the just man may rule his life, a pattern therefore in the meantime
for the individual and not for the statesman.
It is a city, he admits in the Laws, for gods or the children of gods, not for men as they are. Aristotle has none of the high enthusiasm or poetic imagination of Plato. He is even unduly impatient of Plato's idealism, as is shown by the criticisms in the second book. But he has a power to see the possibilities of good in things that are imperfect, and the patience of the true politician who has learned that if he would make men what they ought to be, he must take them as he finds them.
His ideal is constructed not of pure reason or poetry, but from careful and sympathetic study of a wide range of facts. His criticism of Plato in the light of history, in Book II. chap, v. , though as a criticism it is curiously inept, reveals his own attitude admirably: "Let us remember that we should not disregard the experience of ages; in the multitude of years, these things, if they were good, would certainly not have been unknown; for almost everything has been found out, although sometimes they are not put together; in other cases men do not use the knowledge which they have. Aristotle in his Constitutions had made a study of one hundred and fifty-eight constitutions of the states of his day, and the fruits of that study are seen in the continual reference to concrete political experience, which makes the Politics in some respects a critical history of the workings of the institutions of the Greek city state. In Books IV. , V. , and VI. the ideal
state seems far away, and we find a dispassionate survey of imperfect states, the best ways of preserving them, and an analysis of the causes of their instability.
It is as though Aristotle were saying: "I have shown you the proper and normal type of constitution, but if you will not have it and insist on living under a perverted form, you may as well know how to make the best of it. " In this way the Politics, though it defines the state in the light of its ideal, discusses states and institutions as they are. Ostensibly it is merely a continuation of the Ethics, but it comes to treat political questions from a purely political standpoint.
This combination of idealism and respect for the teachings of experience constitutes in some ways the strength and value of the Politics, but it also makes it harder to follow. The large nation states to which we are accustomed make it difficult for us to think that the state could be constructed and modelled to express the good life. We can appreciate Aristotle's critical analysis of constitutions, but find it hard to take seriously his advice to the legislator.
Moreover, the idealism and the empiricism of the Politics are never really reconciled by Aristotle himself. It may help to an understanding of the Politics if something is said on those two points. We are accustomed since the growth of the historical method to the belief that states are "not made but grow," and are apt to be impatient with the belief which Aristotle and Plato show in the powers of the lawgiver. But however true the maxim may be of
the modern nation state, it was not true of the much smaller and more self-conscious Greek city.
When Aristotle talks of the legislator, he is not talking in the air. Students of the Academy had been actually called on to give new constitutions to Greek states. For the Greeks the constitution was not merely as it is so often with us, a matter of political machinery. It was regarded as a way of life. Further, the constitution within the framework of which the ordinary process of administration and passing of decrees went on, was always regarded as the work of a special man or body of men, the lawgivers.
If we study Greek history, we find that the position of the legislator corresponds to that assigned to him by Plato and Aristotle. All Greek states, except those perversions which Aristotle criticises as being "above law," worked under rigid constitutions, and the constitution was only changed when the whole people gave a commission to a lawgiver to draw up a new one. Such was the position of the AEsumnetes, whom Aristotle describes in Book III. chap, xiv. , in earlier times, and of the pupils of the Academy in the fourth century.
The lawgiver was not an ordinary politician. He was a state doctor, called in to prescribe for an ailing constitution. So Herodotus recounts that when the people of Cyrene asked the oracle of Delphi to help them in their dissensions, the oracle told them to go to Mantinea, and the Mantineans lent them Demonax, who acted as a "setter straight" and drew up a new constitution for Cyrene. So again the Milesians, Herodotus tells us, were long
troubled by civil discord, till they asked help from Paros, and the Parians sent ten commissioners who gave Miletus a new constitution.
So the Athenians, when they were founding their model new colony at Thurii, employed Hippodamus of Miletus, whom Aristotle mentions in Book II, as the best expert in town-planning, to plan the streets of the city, and Protagoras as the best expert in law-making, to give the city its laws. In the Laws Plato represents one of the persons of the dialogue as having been asked by the people of Gortyna to draw up laws for a colony which they were founding. The situation described must have occurred frequently in actual life. The Greeks thought administration should be democratic and law-making the work of experts.
We think more naturally of law-making as the special right of the people and administration as necessarily confined to experts. Aristotle's Politics, then, is a handbook for the legislator, the expert who is to be called in when a state wants help. We have called him a state doctor. It is one of the most marked characteristics of Greek political theory that Plato and Aristotle think of the statesman as one who has knowledge of what ought to be done, and can help those who call him in to prescribe for them, rather than one who has power to control the forces of society.
The desire of society for the statesman's advice is taken for granted, Plato in the Republic says that a good constitution is only possible when the ruler does not want to rule; where men contend for power, where they have not learnt to distinguish between the art
of getting hold of the helm of state and the art of steering, which alone is statesmanship, true politics is impossible. With this position much that Aristotle has to say about government is in agreement.
He assumes the characteristic Platonic view that all men seek the good, and go wrong through ignorance, not through evil will, and so he naturally regards the state as a community which exists for the sake of the good life. It is in the state that that common seeking after the good which is the profoundest truth about men and nature becomes explicit and knows itself. The state is for Aristotle prior to the family and the village, although it succeeds them in time, for only when the state with its conscious organisation is reached can man understand the secret of his past struggles after something he knew not what.
If primitive society is understood in the light of the state, the state is understood in the light of its most perfect form, when the good after which all societies are seeking is realised in its perfection. Hence for Aristotle as for Plato, the natural state or the state as such is the ideal state, and the ideal state is the starting-point of political inquiry. In accordance with the same line of thought, imperfect states, although called perversions, are regarded by Aristotle as the result rather of misconception and ignorance than of perverse will.
They all represent, he says, some kind of justice. Oligarchs and democrats go wrong in their conception of the good. They have come short of the perfect state through misunderstanding of the end or through ignorance of the proper
means to the end. But if they are states at all, they embody some common conception of the good, some common aspirations of all their members. The Greek doctrine that the essence of the state consists in community of purpose is the counterpart of the notion often held in modern times that the essence of the state is force.
The existence of force is for Plato and Aristotle a sign not of the state but of the state's failure. It comes from the struggle between conflicting misconceptions of the good. In so far as men conceive the good rightly they are united. The state represents their common agreement, force their failure to make that agreement complete. The cure, therefore, of political ills is knowledge of the good life, and the statesman is he who has such knowledge, for that alone can give men what they are always seeking.
If the state is the organisation of men seeking a common good, power and political position must be given to those who can forward this end. This is the principle expressed in Aristotle's account of political justice, the principle of "tools to those who can use them. " As the aim of the state is differently conceived, the qualifications for government will vary. In the ideal state power will be given to the man with most knowledge of the good; in other states to the men who are most truly capable of achieving that end which the citizens have set themselves to pursue.
The justest distribution of political power is that in which there is least waste of political ability. Further, the belief that the constitution of a state is
only the outward expression of the common aspirations and beliefs of its members, explains the paramount political importance which Aristotle assigns to education. It is the great instrument by which the legislator can ensure that the future citizens of his state will share those common beliefs which make the state possible.
The Greeks with their small states had a far clearer apprehension than we can have of the dependence of a constitution upon the people who have to work it. Such is in brief the attitude in which Aristotle approaches political problems, but in working out its application to men and institutions as they are, Aristotle admits certain compromises which are not really consistent with it.
Aristotle thinks of membership of a state as community in pursuit of the good.
He wishes to confine membership in it to those who are capable of that pursuit in the highest and most explicit manner. His citizens, therefore, must be men of leisure, capable of rational thought upon the end of life. He does not recognise the significance of that less conscious but deep-seated membership of the state which finds its expression in loyalty and patriotism. His definition of citizen includes only a small part of the population of any Greek city.
He is forced to admit that the state is not possible without the co-operation of men whom he will not admit to membership in it, either because they are not capable of sufficient rational appreciation of political ends, like the barbarians whom he thought were natural slaves, or because the leisure necessary for citizenship can only be gained by the work of the artisans who by that very work make
themselves incapable of the life which they make possible for others. "The artisan only attains excellence in proportion as he becomes a slave," and the slave is only a living instrument of the good life.
He exists for the state, but the state does not exist for him.
Aristotle in his account of the ideal state seems to waver between two ideals. There is the ideal of an aristocracy and the ideal of what he calls constitutional government, a mixed constitution. The principle of "tools to those who can use them" ought to lead him, as it does Plato, to an aristocracy. Those who have complete knowledge of the good must be few, and therefore Plato gave entire power in his state into the hands of the small minority of philosopher guardians.
It is in accordance with this principle that Aristotle holds that kingship is the proper form of government when there is in the state one man of transcendent virtue. At the same time, Aristotle always holds that absolute government is not properly political, that government is not like the rule of a shepherd over his sheep, but the rule of equals over equals. He admits that the democrats are right in insisting that equality is a necessary element in the state, though he thinks they do not admit the importance of other equally necessary elements.
Hence he comes to say that ruling and being ruled over by turns is an essential feature of constitutional government, which he admits as an alternative to aristocracy. The end of the state, which is to be the standard of the distribution of political power, is conceived sometimes as a good for
the apprehension and attainment of which "virtue" is necessary and sufficient (this is the principle of aristocracy), and sometimes as a more complex good, which needs for its attainment not only "virtue" but wealth and equality. This latter conception is the principle on which the mixed constitution is based.
This in its distribution of political power gives some weight to "virtue," some to wealth, and some to mere number. But the principle of "ruling and being ruled by turns" is not really compatible with an unmodified principle of "tools to those who can use them. " Aristotle is right in seeing that political government demands equality, not in the sense that all members of the state should be equal in ability or should have equal power, but in the sense that none of them can properly be regarded simply as tools with which the legislator works, that each has a right to say what will be made of his own life.
The analogy between the legislator and the craftsman on which Plato insists, breaks down because the legislator is dealing with men like himself, men who can to some extent conceive their own end in life and cannot be treated merely as means to the end of the legislator. The sense of the value of "ruling and being ruled in turn" is derived from the experience that the ruler may use his power to subordinate the lives of the citizens of the state not to the common good but to his own private purposes.
In modern terms, it is a simple, rough-and-ready attempt to solve that constant problem of politics, how efficient government is to be combined with
popular control. This problem arises from the imperfection of human nature, apparent in rulers as well as in ruled, and if the principle which attempts to solve it be admitted as a principle of importance in the formation of the best constitution, then the starting-point of politics will be man's actual imperfection, not his ideal nature.
Instead, then, of beginning with a state which would express man's ideal nature, and adapting it as well as may be to man's actual shortcomings from that ideal, we must recognise that the state and all political machinery are as much the expression of man's weakness as of his ideal possibilities.
The state is possible only because men have common aspirations, but government, and political power, the existence of officials who are given authority to act in the name of the whole state, are necessary because men's community is imperfect, because man's social nature expresses itself in conflicting ways, in the clash of interests, the rivalry of parties, and the struggle of classes, instead of in the united seeking after a common good. Plato and Aristotle were familiar with the legislator who was called in by the whole people, and they tended therefore to take the general ill or common consent of the people for granted. Most political questions are concerned with the construction and expression of the general will, and with attempts to ensure that the political machinery made to express the general will shall not be exploited for private or sectional ends. Aristotle's mixed constitution springs from a recognition of sectional interests in the state. For the proper relation between the claims of "virtue," wealth, and numbers is to
be based not upon their relative importance in the good life, but upon the strength of the parties which they represent.
The mixed constitution is practicable in a state where the middle class is strong, as only the middle class can mediate between the rich and the poor. The mixed constitution will be stable if it represents the actual balance of power between different classes in the state. When we come to Aristotle's analysis of existing constitutions, we find that while he regards them as imperfect approximations to the ideal, he also thinks of them as the result of the struggle between classes.
Democracy, he explains, is the government not of the many but of the poor; oligarchy a government not of the few but of the rich. And each class is thought of, not as trying to express an ideal, but as struggling to acquire power or maintain its position. If ever the class existed in unredeemed nakedness, it was in the Greek cities of the fourth century, and its existence is abundantly recognised by Aristotle. His account of the causes of revolutions in Book V. hows how far were the existing states of Greece from the ideal with which he starts. His analysis of the facts forces him to look upon them as the scene of struggling factions. The causes of revolutions are not described as primarily changes in the conception of the common good, but changes in the military or economic power of the several classes in the state. The aim which he sets before oligarchs or democracies is not the good life, but simple stability or permanence of the existing constitution.
With this spirit
of realism which pervades Books IV. , V. , and VI. the idealism of Books I. , II. , VII. , and VIII. is never reconciled. Aristotle is content to call existing constitutions perversions of the true form. But we cannot read the Politics without recognising and profiting from the insight into the nature of the state which is revealed throughout. Aristotle's failure does not lie in this, that he is both idealist and realist, but that he keeps these two tendencies too far apart. He thinks too much of his ideal state, s something to be reached once for all by knowledge, as a fixed type to which actual states approximate or from which they are perversions. But if we are to think of actual politics as intelligible in the light of the ideal, we must think of that ideal as progressively revealed in history, not as something to be discovered by turning our back on experience and having recourse to abstract reasoning. If we stretch forward from what exists to an ideal, it is to a better which may be in its turn transcended, not to a single immutable best.
Aristotle found in the society of his time men who were not capable of political reflection, and who, as he thought, did their best work under superintendence. He therefore called them natural slaves. For, according to Aristotle, that is a man's natural condition in which he does his best work. But Aristotle also thinks of nature as something fixed and immutable; and therefore sanctions the institution of slavery, which assumes that what men are that they will always be, and sets up an artificial
barrier to their ever becoming anything else.
We see in Aristotle's defence of slavery how the conception of nature as the ideal can have a debasing influence upon views of practical politics. His high ideal of citizenship offers to those who can satisfy its claims the prospect of a fair life; those who fall short are deemed to be different in nature and shut out entirely from approach to the ideal.
Study of Related Literature and Studies :
The Politics pursues three connected aims: (1) it completes the discussion of happiness, by showing what kind of political community achieves the human good (mainly books I, II and VII); (2) it sets out moral and political principles that allow us to understand and to criticize the different sorts of actual states and their constitutions (mainly books III and IV); (3) it offers some proposals for improving actual states (mainly books V and VI). The order of the books probably reflects Aristotle's aim of describing an ideal state after examining the strengths and weaknesses of actual states.
An individual's desire for happiness leads eventually to the city. A human being is a 'political animal', because essential human capacities and aims are completely fulfilled only in a political community; hence (given the connection between the human function and the human good) the individual's happiness must involve the good of fellow members of a community. The relevant sort of community is a polis ('city' or 'state') - a self-governing community whose proper function (not completely fulfilled by every actual political community) is to aim at the common good of its citizens, who (normally) share in ruling and in being ruled.
The city is the
all-inclusive community, of which the other communities are parts, since it aims at advantage not merely for some present concern but for the whole of life (Nicomachean Ethics 1160a9-30). Since happiness is complete and self-sufficient, the city is a complete and self-sufficient community (Politics 1252b28), aiming at a complete and self-sufficient life that includes all the goods needed for a happy life. The connection between human nature, human good and the political community is most easily understood from Aristotle's account of friendship.
Complete friendship, which requires living together and sharing rational discourse and thought, is restricted to individuals with virtuous characters, but this is not the only type of friendship that achieves self-realization in cooperation; a similar defence can be given for the friendship of citizens. Collective deliberation about questions of justice and benefit contributes to the virtuous person's self-realization because it extends the scope of one's practical reason and deliberation beyond one's own life and activities.
Since the city is comprehensive, seeking to plan for everything that is needed for the complete good, a rational agent has good reason to want to share in its deliberations.
Presentation,Analysis and Interpretation of Data:
Since, then, Aristotle believes that political activity contributes in its own right to the human good, he argues against a 'social contract' theory that assigns a restricted instrumental function to the state (safety, or mutual protection, or the safeguarding of what justly belongs to each person; Politics III 9).
Political life is to be valued for itself, apart from any instrumental benefit; the best city aims at the development of the moral virtues and at the political participation of all who are capable of them. In the light
of these aims, Aristotle describes the best city. It has to assume favourable external conditions (geographical and economic) to allow the development of political life. Its criteria for citizenship are restricted, since they exclude everyone (including women and manual labourers) whom Aristotle regards as incapable of developing the virtues of character.
Within the class of citizens, however, Aristotle is concerned to avoid gross inequality of wealth. and to ensure that everyone shares both in ruling and in being ruled. The institutions of the best state provide the political, social, economic and educational basis for the practice of the moral virtues and for contemplation. Aristotle does not regard politics as a separate science from ethics, but as the completion, and almost a verification of it. The moral ideal in political administration is only a different aspect of that which also applies to individual happiness.
Humans are by nature social beings, and the possession of rational speech (logos) in itself leads us to social union. The state is a development from the family through the village community, an offshoot of the family. Formed originally for the satisfaction of natural wants, it exists afterwards for moral ends and for the promotion of the higher life. The state in fact is no mere local union for the prevention of wrong doing, and the convenience of exchange. It is also no mere institution for the protection of goods and property. It is a genuine moral organization for advancing the development of humans.
The family, which is chronologically prior to the state, involves a series of relations between husband and wife, parent and child, master and slave. Aristotle regards the slave as a piece
of live property having no existence except in relation to his master. Slavery is a natural institution because there is a ruling and a subject class among people related to each other as soul to body; however, we must distinguish between those who are slaves by nature, and those who have become slaves merely by war and conquest. Household management involves the acquisition of riches, but must be distinguished from money-making for its own sake.
Wealth is everything whose value can be measured by money; but it is the use rather than the possession of commodities which constitutes riches. Financial exchange first involved bartering. However, with the difficulties of transmission between countries widely separated from each other, money as a currency arose. At first it was merely a specific amount of weighted or measured metal. Afterwards it received a stamp to mark the amount. Demand is the real standard of value. Currency, therefore, is merely a convention which represents the demand; it stands between the producer and the recipient and secures fairness.
Usury is an unnatural and reprehensible use of money. The communal ownership of wives and property as sketched by Plato in the Republic rests on a false conception of political society. For, the state is not a homogeneous unity, as Plato believed, but rather is made up of dissimilar elements. The classification of constitutions is based on the fact that government may be exercised either for the good of the governed or of the governing, and may be either concentrated in one person or shared by a few or by the many. There are thus three true forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional republic.
The perverted forms
of these are tyranny, oligarchy and democracy. The difference between the last two is not that democracy is a government of the many, and oligarchy of the few; instead, democracy is the state of the poor, and oligarchy of the rich. Considered in the abstract, these six states stand in the following order of preference: monarchy, aristocracy, constitutional republic, democracy, oligarchy, tyranny. But though with a perfect person monarchy would be the highest form of government, the absence of such people puts it practically out of consideration.
Similarly, true aristocracy is hardly ever found in its uncorrupted form. It is in the constitution that the good person and the good citizen coincide. Ideal preferences aside, then, the constitutional republic is regarded as the best attainable form of government, especially as it secures that predominance of a large middle class, which is the chief basis of permanence in any state. With the spread of population, democracy is likely to become the general form of government. Which is the best state is a question that cannot be directly answered.
Different races are suited for different forms of government, and the question which meets the politician is not so much what is abstractly the best state, but what is the best state under existing circumstances. Generally, however, the best state will enable anyone to act in the best and live in the happiest manner. To serve this end the ideal state should be neither too great nor too small, but simply self-sufficient. It should occupy a favorable position towards land and sea and consist of citizens gifted with the spirit of the northern nations, and the intelligence of the Asiatic nations.
further take particular care to exclude from government all those engaged in trade and commerce; “the best state will not make the “working man” a citizen; it should provide support religious worship; it should secure morality through the educational influences of law and early training. Law, for Aristotle, is the outward expression of the moral ideal without the bias of human feeling. It is thus no mere agreement or convention, but a moral force coextensive with all virtue. Since it is universal in its character, it requires modification and adaptation to particular circumstances through equity.
Education should be guided by legislation to make it correspond with the results of psychological analysis, and follow the gradual development of the bodily and mental faculties. Children should during their earliest years be carefully protected from all injurious associations, and be introduced to such amusements as will prepare them for the serious duties of life. Their literary education should begin in their seventh year, and continue to their twenty-first year. This period is divided into two courses of training, one from age seven to puberty, and the other from puberty to age twenty-one.
Such education should not be left to private enterprise, but should be undertaken by the state. There are four main branches of education: reading and writing, Gymnastics, music, and painting. They should not be studied to achieve a specific aim, but in the liberal spirit which creates true freemen. Thus, for example, gymnastics should not be pursued by itself exclusively, or it will result in a harsh savage type of character. Painting must not be studied merely to prevent people from being cheated in pictures, but to make
them attend to physical beauty.
Music must not be studied merely for amusement, but for the moral influence which it exerts on the feelings. Indeed all true education is, as Plato saw, a training of our sympathies so that we may love and hate in a right manner. In addition to his works on ethics, which address the individual, Aristotle addressed the city in his work titled Politics. Aristotle considered the city to be a natural community. Moreover, he considered the city to be prior in importance to the family which in turn is prior to the individual, "for the whole must of necessity be prior to the part".
He also famously stated that "man is by nature a political animal. " Aristotle conceived of politics as being like an organism rather than like a machine, and as a collection of parts none of which can exist without the others. Aristotle's conception of the city is organic, and he is considered one of the first to conceive of the city in this manner. The common modern understanding of a political community as a modern state is quite different to Aristotle's understanding.
Although he was aware of the existence and potential of larger empires, the natural community according to Aristotle was the city (polis) which functions as a political "community" or "partnership" (koinonia). The aim of the city is not just to avoid injustice or for economic stability, but rather to allow at least some citizens the possibility to live a good life, and to perform beautiful acts: "The political partnership must be regarded, therefore, as being for the sake of noble actions, not for the sake of living together. This is distinguished from modern
approaches, beginning with social contract theory, according to which individuals leave the state of nature because of "fear of violent death" or its "inconveniences. ” Just as a correct conception of happiness is the basis of the ideal city, various incorrect conceptions of happiness define mistaken aims for different cities. These mistaken aims underlie the different conceptions of justice that are embodied in the constitutions of different cities.
Partisans of oligarchy, for instance, take happiness to consist in wealth; they treat the city as a business partnership (Politics 1280a25-31). Partisans of democracy take happiness to consist simply in the satisfaction of desire; they assume that if people are equal in the one respect of being free rather than slaves, they are equal altogether, and should have an equal share in ruling (1280a24-5). Neither view is completely mistaken, since neither wealth nor freedom is irrelevant to questions of justice, but each is one-sided. These one-sided views cause errors about the just distribution of political power or other goods.
The proper basis for assigning worth in distribution will be whatever is relevant for the common good, since that is the aim of general justice. Since a correct conception of the common good requires a correct conception of happiness, a correct answer to the question about distribution must appeal to a true conception of happiness. The criticism of existing constitutions seeks to show both how they fall short of the norms that are met by the ideal state, and how they can be improved. Aristotle wants to describe not only the ideal state, but also the best organization of each political system.
In some circumstances, he believes, economic, social, and demographic facts may make (for
example) democracy or oligarchy difficult to avoid. Still, an imperfect constitution can be improved, by attention to the aspects of justice, and hence the aspects of happiness, that this constitution tends to ignore. Even when Aristotle may appear to be engaged in empirical political sociology, or to be offering hints for the survival of a particular regime, he is guided by the moral and political principles that he defends in the more theoretical parts of the Politics.
Aristotle's Politics is one of the most influential and enduring texts of political philosophy in all of history. The Aristotelian tradition, following from the philosophy of Plato and continuing in the writings of Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas and other medieval theorists, has formed the backdrop against which all subsequent political and moral philosophy has found its orientation. Early modern political philosophers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes, as well as modern Enlightenment theorists and even postmodern authors have? either explicitly or implicitly? efined themselves against the Aristotelian model. While writers in the Aristotelian tradition believed that politics has to be based on a fundamental conception of the good as an objective ultimate end for human beings, political theorists from the pre-moderns to today have tried to base politics on anything but a shared idea of the good. The initial reason for this change is perhaps the fear that claiming the existence of one objective end for human life is too likely to lead to serious conflicts like the Wars of Religion.
Coupled with this fear is a profound philosophical skepticism originating with Descartes that questions the existence of any intrinsic human nature, objective end for human life, and even objective truth in
general. These motivations are relatively clear at least in the case of Hobbes, who lived through both the Wars of Religion and the English Civil War, both of which were highly ideological conflicts, although concerns for power and material gain were also at the forefront.
Hobbes attacks Aristotle vehemently in his writings, precisely because he is afraid that having such a clear-cut and universal conception of the good will inevitably lead to further ideological warfare. It is because the core assumptions of Hobbes' and Aristotle's thought are directly opposed to one another that Hobbes believes Aristotelian ideas sufficiently dangerous to merit such strong condemnation. While Hobbes constantly emphasizes the absolute necessity of acting rationally for elf-preservation, Aristotle looks beyond the mere goal of living to the higher aim of living well, in accordance with the natural function of man. This emphasis on living well is a danger in Hobbes' view, for he believes that any lofty ideals for which one may be willing to sacrifice one's life can lead to rebellion and the dissolution of the commonwealth. From Aristotle's perspective, what Hobbes fails to understand is that the goal of self-preservation will not suffice to motivate people to moderate their desires and restrain their actions.
Hobbes, however, a skeptic who had been highly influenced by the writings of Descartes, simply did not believe in the existence of an ultimate good, or even for that matter in the existence of objective reality outside the human mind. The Enlightenment was likewise largely a reaction against the Aristotelian tradition. All liberal political theories, no matter how far-ranging in specific tenets and prescriptions, hold in common one fundamental premise: the freedom
and equality of human beings. To safeguard this hallowed bedrock of liberalism, liberal philosophers shrink from the metaphysical view of virtue proposed by Aristotle.
For with a fixed standard of human excellence, how can one say that all are equal when some are clearly more virtuous than others? Liberals saw the tendency toward hierarchy and inequality in the teleological view of man presented by ancient philosophy. At the same time, however, liberals still recognized the need for virtue in order to form and sustain a well-functioning society and government. Consequently, liberal political theory claims the ability to separate the virtues necessary for politics from an agreement on the foundations of those virtues.
To effect this separation, liberals in the end must rely on a utilitarian conception of virtue based on enlightened self-interest, arguing that unless people act with at least a minimal amount of virtue, the society will collapse and all will be worse off. Yet in doing so, have liberals, proverbially speaking, thrown the baby out with the bath water? For by severing their political theories from objective foundations, liberals actually undermine their own goals and leave the premise of human freedom and equality vulnerable to attack. Liberals do have some reason to fear the hierarchical tendencies of metaphysically-based theories of virtue.
Aristotle's theory, for example, seems to justify vast inequality and class stratification. Unlike the liberal philosophers, Aristotle believes that there is a summum bonum toward which all human actions are consciously or unconsciously directed. Arguing from a metaphysical basis, Aristotle assumes that man must have a specific function and that human excellence and human happiness consist in performing that function well. That function must be
something unique to man; therefore it is related to man's rational capacity. Man's ability to contemplate and reflect? hat is, "activity of the soul according to reason"? is what separates him from other creatures (Nicomachean Ethics 1098a). Thus it is his highest action and the use of that action in contemplating the highest things is what constitutes man's perfection. Reason, aside from being able to contemplate the highest things, can also discover rules for human behavior. In this way the moral virtues come into play as a secondary but nonetheless important aspect of human excellence. By setting up objective criteria for human excellence, Aristotle prepares the basis for his aristocratic political views.
Perhaps the part of Aristotle's Politics most offensive to the liberal sensibility is his defense of slavery. Aristotle posits the existence of natural slaves, "those who are as different [from other men] as the soul from the body or man from the beast, . . . who [participate] in reason only to the extent of perceiving it, but [do] not have it. " This justification of slavery, however, does not follow from Aristotle's logic but rests on an empirical claim that such slaves by nature actually exist. Aristotle's presentation of the best regime further demonstrates the aristocratic leanings of his theory on virtue.
In this regime, the aristocracy of gentlemen, only a small class of elites are citizens and share in the responsibilities of ruling, while the majority of the people are slaves, doing manual work to maintain the city and produce the necessary goods. With such elements as these forming a part of Aristotle's political theory, it is clear why liberals want to avoid
such a view. Still, the liberal project fails to resolve the problem of safeguarding freedom and equality in that it attempts to justify individual rights without providing any underlying philosophical basis for those rights.
John Stuart Mill is one of the clearest examples of the liberal desire to separate the goal of politics from a teleological conception of human nature and objective conception of the good, because he believes that dogmatism and conformism, the greatest impediments to freedom and enlightenment, are the worst things possible for society. (In "What is Enlightenment? ", Kant also expresses a highly similar view. ) In On Liberty, Mill asserts that above all society ought to preserve the freedom "of pursuing our own good in our way. Metaphysically speaking, the idea of "our own good" is a strange concept; for, as in Aristotle's theory, there is only one greatest good, which is the ultimate end for human existence. Yet for Mill, the idea of such a universal end is extremely dubious, for "there is no such thing as absolute certainty" except in subjects like mathematics. Because Mill cannot base virtue on metaphysical or religious considerations, he adopts a utilitarian framework: "I forego any advantage which could be derived to my argument from the idea of abstract right, as a thing independent of utility.
I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being. " Though the phrase "permanent interests of man as a progressive being" seems to have some sort of metaphysical tone to it, it is far from the idea of
an ultimate good in the Aristotelian sense. For while Aristotle's conception of the good? and the classical metaphysical conception in general? ests upon universal principles of human nature, applicable to all human beings, Mill's idea of the good presupposes that each person has a unique "individual nature" and therefore a unique individual good. As a result, for Mill human perfection takes a relativistic turn, and is attained through cultivation of one's own unique powers and abilities. To achieve this end, Mill considers proper education and intellectual formation to be extremely important, as well as self-discipline in order to develop one's individual potential to the fullest.
Crucial as well is toleration of differing points of view and open-mindedness, especially the ability to see the partial truth in different perspectives. The essence of a good existence in Mill's opinion is choice, irrespective of the correctness of that choice: "If a person possesses any tolerable amount of common sense and experience, his own mode of laying out his existence is the best, not because it is the best in itself, but because it is his own mode" (67).
Mill's theory demonstrates that in order for liberals to sever the tie between religious or metaphysical absolute conceptions of the good without completely eliminating considerations of virtue, liberal societies must make virtue and the good dependent on utilitarian considerations. This outcome is a result of liberals' dilemma regarding virtue. For while liberals recognize that a well-functioning government and society require virtue, they cannot use the standard of objective human excellence as the basis of that virtue because they believe it necessarily creates hierarchy and inequality.
Liberals also shrink from this objective standard because
it seems to go against a person's individual freedom to choose his own good in accordance with his individual nature. Yet there are reasons to doubt that Mill's typically liberal approach to virtue and the good, based on utility and highly dependent upon the individual, really does provide a framework which can uphold the human freedom and equality which is both the foundation and goal of liberalism. Mill's words remind us of Aristotle's critique of democracy, which provides some insight into this central dilemma of liberalism.
Aristotle describes democracy's defining principle much like Mill: "to live as one wants. " The problem with this principle, however, is its false conception of freedom: "[Democracies] define freedom badly. . . . [E]veryone lives as he wants and ? toward whatever [end he happens] to crave,' as Euripides says. But this is a poor thing. To live with a view to the regime should not be supposed to be slavery, but preservation. " There are two crucial implications of the philosopher's assertion. First, it is the incorrect definition of freedom, not freedom itself, which is the problem.
Second, this definition is incorrect because it leads one to slavery, and consequently even acts as a danger to the preservation of the regime. True freedom, as opposed to democracy's conception of it, entails one objective end? happiness defined as activity of the soul according to virtue or reason? and necessitates that any manner of action incompatible with this end be considered inferior, for such an action would in fact defeat freedom itself. One could therefore conclude that Aristotle's emphasis on living virtuously as the central goal of politics actually stems from a
desire to preserve freedom.
When examined in this light, Aristotle's position that "the city exists not only for the sake of living but rather primarily for the sake of living well" and his consequent belief that "virtue must be a care for every city" are actually a means to protect the citizens' true freedom. Therefore it is Aristotle's emphasis on virtue, rather than the modern liberals' emphasis on unqualified freedom, which truly upholds the cherished value of liberty. This view is not unique to Aristotle, but was held by the most renowned ancient and medieval philsophers? Plato, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas and others? ho all agreed that true freedom is inextricably connected to the proper end of human existence, and that severing it from this end leads one to the worst form of slavery? slavery to one's own whims, passions, and appetites. Whether one agrees with Aristotle's political philosophy or not, a knowledge of its underlying principles is essential for a clear understanding of nature of all future political philosophy. The project of modern and postmodern philosophers cannot be fully appreciated or objectively analyzed without a basic knowledge of the fundamental ideas against which they were arguing.
Even though they do not all criticize Aristotle directly, as do some authors like Hobbes and Nietzsche, modern and postmodern philosophy is largely a critique of the Aristotelian world-view and an attempt to provide new bases and justifications for politics. The city is a political partnership that comes into being for purposes of self-sufficiency but exists primarily for the sake of living well. Man is by nature a political animal, because he has the ability to communicate and to dialogue and
about justice and the good. The city is prior to the individual.
Natural slaves are those who perceive reason but do not have it. It is mutually beneficial that such people be ruled. There are also slaves according to the law, who may or may not be natural slaves. Mastery is rule over slaves, but political rule is rule over free and equal persons. Holding women, children and property in common as Plato suggests in the Republic is not beneficial to the city. Holding property in common will not reduce factional conflict, but may actually increase because of a sense of injustice. A citizen in the strict sense is one who shares in making decisions and holding office.
Citizenship is therefore essentially democratic, but the notion of citizenship in practice must differ according to the nature of the regime. Commonly speaking, however, a citizen is usually considered to be anyone whose parents are citizens. The virtue of a good man and an excellent citizen may be different, because the virtue of a citizen is determined with a view to the preservation of the regime. To the extent the actual regime approximates the best regime, the virtue of a good man and an excellent citizen will coincide. Correct regimes are those which look to the common advantage.
Deviant regimes are those which look to the advantage of the rulers, and they involve mastery rather than political rule. The correct regimes are kingship, aristocracy and polity; the incorrect regimes are deviations from those and are tyranny, oligarchy and democracy respectively. Kingship is rule by one person, aristocracy is rule by a few based on merit, and polity is a mixture
of democracy and oligarchy. Democracy is rule by the multitude, oligarchy is rule by the wealthy, and tyranny is monarchic rule of a master. Justice is equality for equals and inequality for unequals.
Because the city exists for the sake of living well, virtue must be a care for every city. Which element of the city should have authority? The multitude may collectively be better judges of certain things, so it is proper for them to share in deliberating and judging, but they should not share in the highest offices. Laws need to be made in accordance with the regime. The just one's regime is, the more just the laws will be. The good of politics is justice. The best claim to rule is education and virtue, but there is also a claim to rule based on wealth and on numbers. A regime must be based on the rule of law.
Polity is the best attainable regime and is formed by the mixture of oligarchy and democracy. A well-mixed polity should reinforce the good parts of each regime while minimizing their shortcomings. The middling element of city is very important for its stability because it is the most willing to listen to reason and can arbitrate between the very poor and the rich. The middling sort is the least likely to engage in factional conflict, and they make the best legislators. As much as possible, the city should be made up those who are equal or similar. Factional conflicts arise because of disagreements over justice.
There are two types of equality: numerical equality and equality according to merit. Disputes over different claims to justice can lead to conflict
and revolution. To preserve regimes, it is necessary to enforce the laws well, and to arrange offices so that one cannot profit from them. Regimes should take care not to alienate any one portion of the population. The middling element is very important because they tend to mitigate factional conflict. The greatest method of preserving a regime is education relative to the regime, which means education to appreciate the claims of justice that the non-ruling element has.
The problem with democracies is that they define freedom badly, which leads to slavery. The defining principle of democracy is to claim justice as equality based on numbers rather than merit. Citizens in democracies rule and are ruled in turn. The best regime corresponds to the best way of life for a human being. Since the best way of life is living nobly and according to virtue, the best regime is the one, which promotes this life. The best city needs to be a partnership of similar persons, and rule needs to be based on education and virtue.
However, the city needs farmers and laborers to provide sustenance and the material necessities of life. Farmers and laborers do not have the leisure to be well educated and live nobly. Rulers need to come from the leisured classes. The citizens will be exclusively the ruling class, which will rule and be ruled in turn such that the young will be soldiers and the old will rule. All the laboring classes will be slaves. Education should be common for all citizens, and habituate the children to virtue. Education should consist of letters, gymnastics, music and drawing.
Music is important because it is a
noble means of using leisure time and through its harmony it makes the student appreciate the harmony of the soul in which reason rules the spirit and the appetites.
Summary,Conclusion and Recommendation :
To summarize this paper we must know the role of each and everyone of us to the government and also we do know now the why things in our government happened. Therefore I conclude that politics is a wide thing to be studied . We must have a lot of time to study this area of one’s country. I recommend this to all of us. Because knowledge is free at all .
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