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Elias Uyar
HICC-100 Western Civilization I
Ray Lurie
Aristotle & Politics
Themanyaremoreincorruptiblethanthefew;theyarelikethegreaterquantityofwaterwhichislesseasily
corruptedthanalittle.Aristotle

ArguablyoneofthemostinfluentialphilosopherstogracethisEarth,Aristotlewrote
prominentworkssuchasPolitics,writtenaround350B.C.E,toconceivesolutionstonumerous
questionslike,whatroleshouldthepoliticalcommunityandpoliticsplayinenablingsocietyto
livevirtuously?Aristotlehadmanyopposingviewsabouttheidealgovernmentasopposedtohis
teacher,Plato,butmadeitclearthathebelievesinagovernmentthatdidntbenefitacitizen
anymorethananother,andthroughreasonablemeans.Wegetthishunchbyoneofhisquotes,
Themanyaremoreincorruptiblethanthefew;theyarelikethegreaterquantityofwaterwhich
islesseasilycorruptedthanalittle(Politics,BookIII,PartXV,3738).Aristotleshowsthatthe
greaternumberofofpeople(water)isthesmallerchanceofapossibilityofcorruption,as
opposedtothesmallamountofpeople,whoaremuchmoresusceptibletothepowerof
corruption.Agovernmentwithnocorruptionwilloftenleadtoafair,andjustsociety.Basedon
thisideology,acasecanbemadethatthewayhefeelsaboutthedifferentformsofgovernment
suchasmonarchy,democracy,andoligarchywillcorrelatewithhisvisionoftheideal
government.

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Aristotlesawamonarchyasapowerwhichisheldbyamanwhorulesintheinterestof
thecityasawhole.Basedonhisphilosophy,amonarchyactuallysoundslikeanefficientform
ofgovernment.Onepersonisabletorepresenttheideasofhispeople,andhispeoplewill
supporthim.Ofcourseforamonarchytolast,thepeopleneedstounderstandtheauthenticity
ofthemonarchicalruleandhowitcanbetrusted.Ofcourse,Aristotletalksabouttheimmoral
sideofamonarchy,andthatstyranny(Politic,III,2628).Tyrannywasconsideredacruelform
ofgovernmenttohimanddefinitelywentagainsthisphilosophy.Amonarchsuchasakingor
queenwhoruledonlytoincreasetheirwealthandpowertotallyopposesAristotlesimageofan
idealgovernment.TheonlywaythemonarchywouldfitAristotlesimagecompletelywouldbe
toeliminatetyrannycompletely,whichdoesntseemlikelytohappen.Thecorrupt,natureof
tyrannywouldonlylureawayAristotlefromtheideaofmonarchybeingajustifiableformof
government,whichisashamebecauseitshowedmuchpotentialtofithisvision.
Intermsofanoligarchicgovernmentworkingbetterthanamonarchywasquestionable
andagain,Aristotlefoundboththegoodandthebadinthem.Inoligarchies,thequalificationfor
highofficeishigh,andthereforenolaborercaneverbeacitizen(Politics,BookIII,PartV,30
31).Simplyonlythosewealthyelitesruledthegovernmentbutdidsointheinterestsoftheir
peoplewhichsoundslikeagreatidea.Theonlyproblemisthatwhenthosewealthyelitesruled
forselfishgains,youreleftwithabigmess.This,onceagain,opposesAristotlesthinking
towardshisidealgovernment.Thethemeofcorruptionisonceagainplayingafactorin
decidingwhetherornotthistypeofgovernmentfitsAristotlesimage.Oligarchyhasintheview
theinterestofthewealthy;democracy,oftheneedy:noneofthemthecommongoodofall
(Politics,BookIII,PartVII,2728).

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ThefinalformofgovernmentAristotlereferstoinPolitics,isdemocracy.Democracyis
whentheindigent,andnotthemenofproperty(oligarchy),arerulers(Politics,BookIII,Part
VIII,89).Aristotlethenbringsupaverybigproblem.Hescomparingittooligarchy,whereas
itissaidtobethegovernmentofthefew;Hethequestions,butwhatifthepoorarefewerthan
therich,andhavethepowerintheirhandsbecausetheyarestronger(Politics,BookIII,Part
VIII,1214)?Aristotletriestodemonstratethattheproblemindemocracyisthatitwillcause
competitionbetweenclassescausinginstabilityandchaos,whichwouldleadtoanunstable
society.Youcanthaveagovernmentthatworksforthecommongoodwhenthethreeclasses
absolutelydespiseeachother.
ItiswithoutadoubtthatAristotlewaswayaheadofhistime.Hisphilosophieshavebeen
widelyrespectedandstudiedbyscholarsallovertheworld.Basedonhissystemoftheideal
government,youcanseethecomparisonsbetweenhisthemanyaremoreincorruptiblethanthe
fewsaying,andhisviewsonthethedifferenttypesofgovernments.Monarchies,oligarchies,
anddemocraciesallhadsomeflawsthatdeterminedwhetherornottheyfithisformof
government,whichgoverninfavortothecommoninterest,orasatyrannicalgovernment,which
haveselfishinterests,suchasbuildingwealthorpowerforpersonalgain

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Bibliography
Aristotle."ThePoliticsofAristotle."Trans.BenjaminJowett.ThePoliticsofAristotle
(1999):n.pag.Web.19Feb.2016.
<http://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/aristotle/Politics.pdf>.

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