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Aristotle's Endorsement Of Polity As The Best Possible For Most States

1138 words - 5 pages

Aristotle's Endorsement of Polity as the Best Possible for Most States

Polity is defined as a from of Government or type of constitution,
such as a democratic polity. Aristotle uses ‘polity’ in two forms, the
name for a constitution of any kind, and as the name of a specific
polity. ‘Polity’ is the form of Government under which all citizens
rule and are ruled in turn. The main principle of polity is that all
citizens have a share of political power, and that they should all be
active in ruling the state. In this essay I will discuss Aristotle’s
endorsement of ‘polity’ as the ‘best possible for most states.’

Aristotle regards the politeia (constitution) as a means of organising
people that are living within a state. He regards politês (citizens)
as people who participate in the legal, political, and administrative
judgement and authority of the state. Although there are other people
living within the state, it is only citizens that are able to
participate in the administration of the state. Aristotle believes
that the state is more than a means to providing a living, but is the
very thing that makes life meaningful. The state should encourage
participation in civic associations, religion and culture. The role of
the state is to bring virtue to its citizens.

Aristotle distinguishes between the classes in the state, and who is
best fit to rule. He believes that a coalition of the rich and the
poor in society would best understand the whole society, and would
therefore be good to rule; that the poor should perform deliberative
and judicial functions but not allowed to hold office. In terms of
types of ‘polity’ this is a mixture of oligarchy and democracy.
Aristotle believes that the best possible state, one in which virtue
is best able to prevail is one in which some political functions are
assigned to the many poor and lower classes, and other functions to
the few rich and well born. This will produce a balance of the
classes, and a fair representation in Government.

Aristotle also discusses other forms of Government. In book III he
discusses Kingship as a form of Government, he concludes that it is
not a good form of Government unless one citizen’s virtues are greater
than the rest of the state’s combined. As this is very unlikely to be
the case, he believes his polity is more appropriate. He describes his
polity as a form of Government in which all citizens take turn to
rule. There are many different sections to the Government, and as
discussed above each class of the state has a role to play in each
section. It is in this way that citizens from each class take turn to
rule.

Aristotle’s polity incorporates both oligarchic and democratic
features in the aim of uniting the rich and the poor. He makes the
distinction that the difference between oligarchy and democracy is...

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