Aristotle’s theory of state in detail

Aristotle's theory state
Aristotle’s theory of state


Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle was born in the small city of Stagira in Greece. He was a disciple as well as a critic of Plato. He was considered the father of biology as well as the father of political science. He was a great philosopher in the ancient age, and he influenced the world with his ideas on philosophy. Greek philosopher, Plato combined philosophy knowledge, ethics, education, philosophy, and sociology, etc into a single system. But Aristotle did not combine all subjects. He draws a distinction between different branches of knowledge, physics, biology, meteorology, ethics, and politics. He was the person, who wrote separate threats on these subjects. He was the first person to introduce the classification of knowledge and suggest for their independent development.


The golden man 

Aristotle, in his book Ethics, where he had given the ethical principle. It implies that virtue/excellence lies in finding a middle path between two extremes that will otherwise turn out to be vices. For example, courage is a virtue between two vices cowardice and rashness.

Why man is a political animal in the philosophy of Aristotle?

So what is a political animal? A political animal is a being that lives together with other beings of the same species or class or group. In other words, Man by nature is a social being, he or she exists not by himself but always with others. So no man is an island. No man can stand alone, he or she will depend on others on the support of others and the rearing of others to live a happy and successful life.

So a human being can not subsist without the nurturing help and support of other human beings. so among animals, the young of other animals can survive, if they are left on their own in the wild, but this is not the case with human beings, because we need to be reared nurtured, and nursed by our parents or Guardians. So the concept of political animal implies or requires that the human being as a species should live or must live with other human beings and that’s the only way to survive, not only do we live together with others to survive, but for Aristotle The Good Life, the ethical moral and a happy life, a successful or excellent life can only be achieved if we live in society.

So when we live in the city-state we are like those animals, that also live in communities like bees and ants and others but what differentiates us from these kinds of animals is that the human being has the faculty of intellect and will and because of that the human being is capable of knowing what is good, what is right and has the capacity of speech which enables the human being to educate other. Human beings to share their thoughts to express themselves to legislate laws to ensure that the good and the right thing is pursued and Chaos or conflicts are avoided.

Now what is the role of the State?  The main function of the State is moral or ethical. The city-state is the perfect Avenue, where people can be educated and become virtuous citizens or individuals to live a happy, excellent, flourishing life, and it’s only in the City-state or the society that a man’s rights and Welfare are protected and promoted that the function of the State. So as citizens of the State, the role of every citizen, the human being is to participate and contribute to the good of the community, so failure to participate and contribute to the good of the community makes one ineligible to be a citizen.


Aristotle’s view on state

Aristotle’s state theory explains the importance of the state for human beings. How the state plays crucial for human beings to fulfill their basic needs. This theory also explains the concept, and origin of the state and tells about man is by nature a political animal.

Origin of state 
For Aristotle, the state is necessary as well as natural for human beings. He argues that a man can not live alone. That’s why men and women join together and set up a family or household. Formation of the family leads to expansion of the family. The expansion of family into a group of families leads to the formation of a village community. A cluster of village communities results in the formation of a city or state. This is the way, how the state evolves according to Aristotle.
Concept of state- 
The concept of the Polis or city-state of both Aristotle & Plato plays a central part in the conversion of the association of society and the common good. The city-state was not just a geographical association but a complex social, political, and moral structure, which they viewed represented the highest form of human community. Both Have developed their perspective on the state theory. Aristotle’s theory of state tells that the state is necessary for human beings to survive. It is the highest and most natural institution. City-state fulfill the desire/needs of the human being. Plato’s theory of state explains the concept of the ideal state and Plato’s main aim was to build the ideal state in Athens. He has explained about ideal state concept in his famous book, the Republic. In Plato’s city-state, there is a division of classes, namely- Rural(Philosopher king), warriors, and producers. Each class has its specific role in society to balance the maintenance of the city-state. Both have their perspective and both philosophers regard state is the highest form of community or ultimate community.
Nature and purpose of the state:
Aristotle believed that state had to play a crucial role to fulfill the basic needs of human beings. There are some important purpose of the state, which have been mentioned below:-
(i) Common goods– In day today life, human needs basic need to fulfill their desires by using resources. The state’s primary purpose is to fulfill the common good of the citizen. The state should aim at enhancing the overall well-being of society rather than benefiting a particular group.
(ii)Security and justice
Aristotle observed that with the formation of state, human community becomes self-dependent. Human community feel safe because the state protect them from internal and external threats. Another important role of the state is to provides important proper justice to human community.
(iii)Promotion of virtues: Aristotle believed that the state should cultivate virtues in its citizens. According to him moral education and active participation in civic life lead to the development of character. The state encourages individuals to practice virtues such as justice, courage and wisdom. It Provides an environment for self-realization, which are essential for achieving eudaimonia.

Aristotle on Citizenship

Citizenship In this case Plato and Aristotle, both had different views. It is because that Plato considered all people of the city-state to be citizens. But Aristotle had another view on citizenship. According to Aristotle, all citizens are not the citizens of the state. Aristotle did not consider women, children, slaves, foreign people, or old people citizens of the state. He did not consider them citizens of the state because they can not perform the function of the judiciary and state affairs. According to Aristotle, Native-born adult males belonging to the property class are eligible for citizenship  Plato divided people into three classes, Rural, soldiers, and appetite. On the other side, Aristotle talked about citizens and good citizens of the state.

Aristotle’s classification of government

Aristotle grouped constitutions based on two things: (a) Whether a state is controlled by one person, a few people, or many people, and (b) Whether the ruler cares about what’s good for the state (the usual kind of constitution) or only about what’s good for themself (the wrong or twisted kind). Using this idea, he made the following groups:
Forms of Government:
Aristotle talked about six different types of governments. It’s like looking at various ways a group can be in charge. The first is monarchy, where one person rules. Then there’s aristocracy, where a few good people lead. Polity is when many people work together to decide. Tyranny happens when one person rules selfishly. Oligarchy is when a small group has power. And democracy is when many people get to have a say.
B.The Degenerate Forms of Government and Their Causes:
Aristotle thought that governments could go bad. Monarchy can turn into tyranny if the ruler becomes greedy. Aristocracy can become oligarchy if the few in power get selfish. Polity can turn into democracy if everyone only cares about themselves. These bad changes happen when rulers forget about the whole group and focus only on themselves.
C. Evaluation of the Best and Worst Forms of Government According to Aristotle:
Aristotle had ideas about which forms of government are good and bad. He liked the normal versions – monarchy, aristocracy, and polity – when rulers care about everyone. He didn’t like tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy – the wrong versions – when rulers only think about themselves. He thought the best government was the one where everyone worked together for the common good, just like in a well-coordinated team.
Political Education and Virtue:
A. Aristotle’s Emphasis on the Importance of Education for Cultivating Virtuous Citizens:
Aristotle really believed that education is super important for making good and responsible citizens. It’s like training for being a decent and thoughtful member of a community. He thought that through proper education, people can learn how to make the right choices, treat others fairly, and do their part to help the society they live in.
B. The Relationship Between Ethics and Politics:
Aristotle saw a strong connection between being a good person and being involved in politics. He thought that ethics, which is about doing the right thing, and politics, which is about making decisions for the community, go hand in hand. Being ethical helps you become a better citizen who cares about others and makes the state a better place.
C. A Virtuous Citizenry Contributes to the Stability and Success of the State:
Aristotle believed that when citizens are kind, fair, and responsible, the state becomes stable and successful. Just like in a sports team, when each player behaves well, follows the rules, and works together, the team becomes stronger and performs better. Similarly, when citizens are good, the state runs smoothly, and everyone benefits from a happier and more successful community.