Aristotle’s Conception of the State

Aristotle’s Conception of the State

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Like Plato, Aristotle also saw man as a social being and always thought of him with the society in which he lived.

According to him, someone who does not have the ability to live in society or does not need it because he is self-sufficient is either an animal or God (Policy, 1253a 27-29). It is not possible for human individuals to live independently of society.

This is because man succinctly needs others, even in terms of his vital needs. Therefore, a person can only meet all his needs within the state order and can only achieve the purpose that suits his nature within the state and society. In that case, it is possible for a person to be self-sufficient, to reach his own well-being and happiness only within the life of the state and society. After all, the purpose of existence of the state is nothing but the happiness of human beings.

According to Aristotle, everything that exists on earth has a purpose and has a natural tendency to realize that purpose. For the state, this aim is the realization of the highest good of man, the mental and moral life of man. In that case, Aristotle’s understanding of society and politics is based on two basic judgments;

The state is a natural being, just like things existing in nature, because it was born out of man’s natural needs and inclinations,
Human is a social and political animal by nature (Arslan, 2007: 279).

According to Aristotle, man can reach his own purpose, goodness and happiness only within the society and state order. The purpose of existence of the state is nothing but the happiness of man.

Aristotle recognized that the state consists of smaller communities oriented towards the realization of man’s natural purpose. For example; The family, as the smallest community in which a person finds himself as soon as he is born, has turned towards the purpose of a good life. But since this life cannot be achieved by the struggles of individual families, families unite and form villages. The aim of villages is also a good life, but neither families nor villages have the qualifications to lead a good life. So the villages come together and form the site. What Aristotle means by the state is the sites formed by the coming together of more than one village. In this table, it is understood that Aristotle, unlike Plato, attaches great value to family and family life in the site and considers it as the building block of the site. Aristotle criticized the understanding of the state without families drawn on this basis in the State and saw the site as a family solidarity in the last instance.

Aristotle, in his work named Politics, discusses at length what an ideal city-state should be, and puts forward some necessary conditions regarding this. First of all, the site should be large enough for itself. The measure of greatness is the goal of the state. In other words, each site should be large enough to realize its goal and should not be large enough to make it unrealizable (Policy, 1325b -1326b). This is valid both in terms of the number of citizens and the land width of the site. On the other hand, Aristotle also opposes Plato’s understanding of “The greater the unity in the state, the better for the state”. According to him, the nature of the state is a multiplicity of dissimilars. Every ideal state is based on the diversity of different functions undertaken by different classes (Ross, 2002: 283). Therefore, instead of organizing the site around an extreme understanding of unity as if it were a single class, it would be appropriate to emphasize the diversity provided by the site life.

Aristotle’s ideal city state; The farmers who will provide the people with the food they need, the artisans who will produce the tools needed by the society and the handicrafts, the soldiers who will protect the country against internal and external threats by force of arms if necessary, the wealthy merchants who will earn the money to supply the country with the weapons it needs, the religious needs of the society. It consists of the clergy who will meet the public interest and the judges who will decide what is in the public interest and dispense justice to the people. Although these classes are indispensable for an ideal society, Aristotle argued that the farmers would not be able to get the necessary free time, and that the artisans and merchants were not inclined to virtue due to their work, and that these three classes should be deprived of their citizenship rights. Soldiers, clergy and judges are real parts of the site and therefore have a say in the administration of the country (Arslan, 2007: 319-320). Apart from these classes, Aristotle also accepted the existence of the institution of slavery on the site as legitimate. Although he was criticized for the legitimacy he gave to slavery, it should not be forgotten that slavery was considered very normal considering the social and political climate of the period in which he lived, and humanity could not abolish the institution of slavery for centuries after Aristotle.

According to Aristotle, the ideal site layout is a structure formed by the coming together of different social classes. This is basically the site; farmers, artisans, soldier