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Aristotle's Views On Citizenship Essay

1606 words - 6 pages

Aristotle's Views on Citizenship


For Aristotle the human is "by nature" destined to live in a political association. Yet not all who live in the political association are citizens, and not all citizens are given equal share in the power of association. The idea of Polity is that all citizens should take short turns at ruling (VII, 1332 b17-27). It is an inclusive form of government: everyone has a share of political power. Aristotle argues that citizen are those who are able to participate in the deliberative and judicial areas of government (III, 1279a32-34). However, not all who live in a political association are citizens. Women, children, slaves, and alien residents are not citizens. Some groups; the rich, the poor, those who come from noble families and the virtuous, can claim power in the state.
Polis exits by nature, and human beings are naturally adapted to live in a Polis (II, 1253a1-3). Initially appears the family. Then several families amalgamate to form a village. When several villages amalgamate into a community large enough to be self-sufficient, they form a state, "Polis". Polis "comes to be for the sake of living, but it remains in existance for the sake of living well" (II, 1252 b28). According to Aristotle, studying the mature and fully developed specimen is the best way to understand the nature of being. To comprehend the nature of the thing one does not need to look to its origin but to its full development.
Every city-state exists by NATURE, since the first communities do. For the city-state is their end, and nature is an end; for we say that each thing's nature […] is the character it has when its coming-into-being has been completed. Moreover, that for the sake that something exists [its end], is best, and self-sufficiency is both end and best. [...] Then, a city-state is among the things that exist by nature, [consequently] a human being is by nature a political animal" (I, 1252 b29-1253 a3).
A "political animal" means an animal whose nature is to live in a Polis or city, not isolated or in small groups. Civilization is the natural state for the human animal. It is the natural state not in the sense that it is the original state, but in the sense that the natural goal of human development is life in cities.
Aristotle recognizes that "There is a natural distinction, […] between what is female and what is servile" (I, 1252 b1-2). However, they are normally subordinate to men: "…the relation of male to female is that of natural superior to natural inferior, and that of ruler to ruled" (I, 1254 b13-15). Women and children are ruled, not as slaves for the master's benefit, but for their own good, just as the rulers of a city must seek the good of the citizens, not the good of the rulers. The rule of husband over wife is a "constitutional" government. The rule of father over children is "royal" government.
"For a man rules his wife and children both as free people, but not in the same way: instead, he rules his...

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