Introduction to Political Theory: Professor Iris Nachum
Born in Northern Greece, Aristotle’s father was a court physician to the king of Macedon where Aristotle himself would be requested by King Philip II to tutor his son Alexander (who grew up to become “Alexander the Great”). Aristotle, one of the most influential thinkers in philosophy including political theory is also known as the legendary Greek philosopher, logician, scientist, and student of Plato. Aristotle studied in Plato's Academy in Athens. Plato being the student of Socrates and also known as the father of political theory helped educate and shape the mind of young Aristotle who then became known as the first political scientist. It was the diverse atmosphere in which Aristotle was raised, along with his education and then his many travels that gave him the depth of being able to experience and see the good and the faults in the world.
Aristotle saw philosophy within the physical world. He believed that our truths came from physically breaking down systems and examining them to understand them. He had experience with traveling and seeing different world regimes. Aristotle believed one had to break things down empirically and scientifically. Thus gaining his title of political scientist who used scientific methods to analyze and conclude his beliefs, thoughts, and opinions. Aristotle believed that one must think critically and rationally using inductive reason and an empiricist approach. Aristotle studied over 100 regimes and analyzed which ones were the strongest, how they functioned, and which best served the people. He concluded that the best type of government regime was that of one with a strong middle class to balance the upper and lower classes to create the most stable and just society. He believed that this regime would be a combination of aspects from a polity (an elected government that has the majority of the common people’s best interest), aristocracy (rule by the rich but with the people's interest in mind), and monarchy (a single ruler if there is the potential that that city has a qualified ruler as such which Aristotle admits is rare and can easily turn into tyranny). Aristotle felt that most people did not have enough intelligence or power to handle running the government so it is best to put those in power who do.
In his work, The Politics, Aristotle is explains that a city is made up of many people, many individuals who possess different views and values. It is the diverse group of the city that makes it a city. If a city were to become more and more a unit then it would lose its uniqueness in opinions and make up and defeat the entire definition of a city. Aristotle believes that people are entitled to their own thoughts, opinions, and ownership. He states in his work (Politics, page 40-41) that is not in the nature of a city to be a unit. Aristotle believes that cities are made up different parts and different entities that work together as a whole. They do not function as one but rather work together. Aristotle states that extreme unification of a city is not a good thing. Aristotle states that "The city exists for the sake of a good life", meaning that a city is there to function as an outlet to meet the needs of each of its citizens. Each citizen has his own need to be met. Aristotle realizes that what makes one person happy may not make the other happy. “It is obvious that a city which goes on becoming more and more of a unit will eventually cease to be a city at all. A city, by its nature, is some sort of plurality” (Aristotle, p. 39). Aristotle is arguing that if a city becomes more and more unified then only one voice is heard and it will then lack the very unique components of different voices, functions, and views that made it a city in the first place. Aristotle believed that a cities purpose was to enhance plurality, a diversified city that comes together to function.
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