Aristotle's Politics

Meera Gupta

Aristotle is considered one of the most influential thinkers of all time. He was a great philosopher and attended Plato's Academy in Athens. He had many interests, and many think that the myriad of his interests shaped his political views. His traveling and life experiences may have contributed to his curiosity for democracy. His knowledge of biology showed the naturalism in his politics, which means that he held that all phenomenon can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.
This is a bust of the great thinker Aristotle.
Politics as defined by Aristotle himself is a "practical science" because it deals with making citizens happy. His philosophy is to find the supreme purpose of life, virtue as he puts it. One of the most important roles of a politician, though, is to make laws, or constitutions. With this task I believe that Aristotle wanted the citizens well being and livelihood to be contemplated before any laws were made permanent. After the laws are put into place the politician's job is to make sure that that they are abided by. Aristotle believes that with the same constitution citizens will be the same over time, but if the constitution is ever changed so will the citizen.


The ancient Greek city-state played an important role too. Athens was a city-state, and a democracy. Even though Aristotle was not born in Athens his views were accepted until he was shunned after the death of Alexander. The definition of democracy from Webster's dictionary is "the principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community." This is essentially what Aristotle "preaches." Athens needed a ruler according to of Aristotle's philosophy. Any community can have order as long as there is a competent ruler. It is also made up of many parts to make it great. Mainly a community, becomes a community because it is made up of many different things (households, businesses,) to begin with it works well together.

Even though it seems as if Aristotle wanted happiness for everyone is his philosophical writings, his idea of what a citizen truly is, is actually quite lacking in its openness. True citizens were not women or children. They were not elderly or slaves, they were not people who were not born in Greece or Athens for that matter. The citizens, however, were more directly involved with governing their city-state.




This is from a painting by Raphael of the "School of Athens." This is a zoomed in picture of Aristotle, there are many other men portrayed.
In the end all Aristotle truly wanted for these citizens was the right for them to pursue lives that would make them happy. His political writings did not have an immediate effect because it supported the city-states of Greece that was being abolished during the later years of his life. He has had deep influence in political philosophy in the present day, though. It holds close to its heart, the place of morality, justice, and role of human nature in politics that in today's world can be lacking.

Back

I took a philosophy class last year and we discussed Aristotle greatly. The readings that I am using to write this paper are "Ethics," "Politics" and "Natural Philosophy." I also used the Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy for reference. I am writing a response by incorporating what we have read in "Ancient Greece" and saying what I think Aristotle would say.
Image Sources:
"The School of Athens"- http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/PictDisplay/Aristotle.html
Aristole's Bust- www.rwe.org/pages/ biographies_and_books.htm