- Maya Patel
I am a junior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Business Leadership. I enjoy learning about how philosophers discuss and view government and politics especially how they affected the citizens throughout the time periods.
- Ryan Odibo
I am a junior majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Political Theory. I personally find the intersection between philosophy and politics interesting and think many of the topics expressed in texts from hundred of years ago are still pertinent in a contemporary context.
- Jennifer Garcia
I am a senior majoring in Political Science, and I will graduate this semester. I like reading and analyzing the dialogues about politics and the government. I enjoy reading about how to have a stable government and use Aristotle’s arguments to compare with the modern legal system.
Aristotle: The Politics “Books V-VIII”
How is it possible for democracies, and polities to degrade and what are some dynamics of political decay?
This week we were assigned to read Aristotle: The Politics, Books V-VIII. In his political philosophy series of works, the Politics provides an in-depth analysis of the political dynamic that existed in the time period and how they prospered and failed throughout time. Written between eight books, we are focusing on books 5, 6, 7, and 8. Book 5 examines constitutional change, revolutions as seen through different types of constitutions and preservation efforts, and the downfall and instability of tyrannies. Book 6 focuses on democratic and oligarchic constitutions and their political dynamics, while Book 7 connects the happiness of the Individual and the State and in book 8, Aristotle explains the establishment of education.
Oligarchy: Form of government in which power rests with a small number of people.
Democracy: Form of government in which people have authority to choose their legislators.
Anarchy: A state in which society is freed from authority or a governing body; absence of government and complete freedom.
Monarchy: Form of government in which a person, monarch, is head of the state for life or until death.
Aristocracy: Form of government that puts strength in the hands of a ruling, small and privileged class.
Preface to Causes of Revolution and Preservation
Aristotle’s understanding of revolution and how it is objectively political stems from the connection between the types of governments that function for and by the people. In Book 5, chapter 1, democracy versus oligarchy and its causes that lead to revolution are discussed. Aristotle highlights how any form of government has its significant flaws and how they seek to fulfill different functions and means by which people and those in charge live. In a sense, both forms of government have their own meaning of justice and are still flawed. When the people and ideals often do not align, and there is a continuation of unjust actions, it is ground for revolution. There are two sorts of changes in government: a change in the constitution, a form of government is changed, or no change to the constitution does not disrupt government. Either the type of regime becomes less or more similar to its governmental form. Where there is inequality, there are grounds for a revolution in any regime. Overall, Aristotle states, “Still democracy appears to be safer and less liable to revolution than oligarchy” (Aristotle, Book 5). In a democracy or democratic government, there is no inherent danger towards those in positions of power but rather a fair middle class that builds the nation’s foundations.
Preemptive to Revolutions and how Constitution affects them
In terms of the constitution and its relation to revolutions, one must understand the causes of revolution and the motives and feelings behind them. As stated in chapter 2, “The universal and chief cause of this revolutionary feeling has been already mentioned; viz., the desire of equality, when men think that they are equal to others who have more than themselves; or, again, the desire of inequality and superiority, when conceiving themselves to be superior they think that they have not more but the same or less than their inferiors” (Aristotle, Book 5). When faced with inequality, the desire for equality determines the means for revolution; “Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior” (Aristotle, Book 5). The motives that are behind the cause for revolution are fear, dishonor, gain, and loss. The leading causes are the love of honor and gain, and some other reasons are contempt, carelessness, excessive pride and predominance, and insolence.
EXAMPLE: An example is from the movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In the movie, the galaxy was gripped by fear and stood up to fight against the First Order. The people rose up and fought hate with love and with everything they had left. The clip shows the preemptive fight between Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker and exemplifies how Rey becomes a jedi and a symbol for hope across the galaxy for people to take a stand. (Watch from 9:10-9:45)
Causes and Quarrels of Revolution
Honor, superiority, and fear are prominent causes of revolution and how men can be rewarded or punished due to these reasons. Regarding superiority and contempt, this leads to oligarchy, monarchy, or democracy when people revolt because they think they are stronger or when the rich reject the state due to its lack of structure regarding a constitution. Political revolutions also begin from parts of the state that are disproportionate; for example, “When the rich grow numerous or properties increase, the form of government changes into an oligarchy or a government of families” (Aristotle, Book 5).
Furthermore, governments have the ability to transition from one regime to another; for example, “Governments also change into oligarchy or democracy or a constitutional government because the magistrates, or some other section of the state, increase in power or renown” (Aristotle, Book 5). As in a democracy, the middle class holds up a state, so without one, it is just rich and poor with no middle class. However, it is known that the middle class in the US is shrinking, so one could wonder what that means for the state and its people. Revolutions happen in two ways: by force and by fraud. “Sometimes the citizens are deceived into acquiescing in a change of government, and afterward they are held in subjection against their will. In other cases, the people are persuaded at first, and afterward, by a repetition of the persuasion, their goodwill and allegiance are retained. Force may be applied either at the time of making the revolution or afterwards” (Aristotle, Book 5). Not only are force and fraud changed during the revolution, revolutions that affect the constitution often are created by the two causes.
Revolutions in Democracy
Revolutions created in democracies are caused by the actions of demagogues, less extreme politicians in some sense and instigators, who fuel revolts amongst the rich and stir up the people against them. To elaborate, a demagogue is a popular, political leader in democracy who gains the popularity of the common people to rise up against the elites. When demagogues leave a democratic state after a revolution has begun at their hands, there is no reversal; their ignorance and neglect towards the preservation of the state does not exist. In the case of insolent demagogues, a democracy changes into a tyranny; power is given to individuals.
Oligarchy versus Democracy
Democracy: “arises out of notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal”
Oligarchy: “based on the notion that those who are unequal in one respect are in all respects unequal; being unequal, that is, in property, they suppose themselves to be unequal absolutely”
Revolution in Oligarchies
There are two recognizable causes of revolutions in oligarchies: oligarchs oppress the people, which allows for a champion to appear amongst the people, and an internal cause of rivalry between the oligarchs themselves or which they pose as demagogues. When an oligarchy is unified, revolting against it becomes much more difficult. The way they can be overthrown is only when another oligarchy takes the place of the original form. As stated by Aristotle, “We must generally remark both of democracies and oligarchies, that they sometimes change, not into the opposite forms of government, but only into another variety of the same class” (Aristotle, Book 5). Not only do these forms of government have the ability to transform, but they also have the ability to create the same version under different variations. Changes of constitutional governments allow for the opposite forms of government to form but also allow for the same form to be changed. Specifically with democracies and oligarchies as Aristotle mentions, these variations can occur randomly rather than based around a system.
EXAMPLE: Pictured is an example of a modern oligopoly, which is where a government is controlled by a small number of people, in this case it is an industry dominated by a small number of sellers.
An aristocracy is similar to an oligarchy but not quite the same; “In aristocracies, revolutions are stirred up when a few only share in the honors of the state; a cause which has been already shown to affect oligarchies” (Aristotle, Book 5). Whereas in an aristocracy, power is given to aristocrats versus in an oligarchy when it is given to a small group of people who hold the most power. Revolutions occur when people think they are equal to the ruler, men are dishonored by those in high office, and when an individual believes they are great and wants to rule alone. There is an existing constitution that controls political power through set principles in a constitutional government, and often greed and insolence are run amuck amongst the rich. However, along with aristocracies, they are commonly overthrown for the sake of justice or lack thereof.
Constitutional Preservation versus Destruction
Here, Aristotle focuses on preserving constitutions and whether or not it is known that the causes that destroy constitutions can also preserve them; deemed as, “for opposites produce opposites, and destruction is the opposite of preservation” (Aristotle, Book 5). The way a government is preserved and created is also a way it can be destroyed; the laws that were put in place can create inequality among classes or a class of people which then disadvantages the entire state. To recognize and understand the foundations that government is built on, one must understand how a just state can ensure people live a good life as believed by Aristotle. Furthermore, in efficiently-run governments, nothing is more important than upholding that of the laws not to let evil run amuck as coinciding with quarrels among the state. Constitutions are best preserved when the ruling classes are prevented from overtaking the government or controlling any aspect of the law and its functions in society. When the government acts in ways that do not appease the rich, they have the ability to then become powerful together and control the means by which the government and its citizens bend to the will of those with a highly unequal amount of wealth.
The Democratic Perseverance of Income Inequality as seen by Aristotle
In democracies, the wealth and property of the rich should not be redistributed by any means or in order to prevent an oligarchy; those with the most power pose the greatest threat to a constitutional government, such as a democracy. To further explain, Aristotle states, “In democracies the rich should be spared; not only should their property not be divided, but their incomes also, which in some states are taken from them imperceptibly, should be protected. It is a good thing to prevent the wealthy citizens, even if they are willing from undertaking expensive and useless public services, such as the giving of choruses, torch-races, and the like” (Aristotle, Book 5). Essentially, the rich should remain unprovoked because they have the power to take away public services. However, in an oligarchy, taking care of the poor is of utmost importance, and estates and wealth are passed on through inheritance, allowing the poor to become equal to those who have more.
Continuing to how forms of government are to be organized and managed, there are three qualifications necessary in order to fill high offices: “(1) first of all, loyalty to the established constitution; (2) the greatest administrative capacity; (3) virtue and justice of the kind proper to each form of government; for, if what is just is not the same in all governments, the quality of justice must also differ” (Aristotle, Book 5). In an office built on trust or management, the opposite requirements are needed; “for more virtue than ordinary is required in the holder of such an office, but the necessary knowledge is of a sort which all men possess” (Aristotle, Book 5). Oligarchies and democracies are in between extreme forms of government and no form of government. The statesmen and legislators know how to save and destroy the two forms and know that neither can exist without the extremes of the rich and poor. As previously stated, education, or necessary knowledge, should be adapted within a form of government but is often not. All forms of government have significant flaws, which Aristotle highlights throughout the Politics book 6. It is evident that Aristotle believes that living a happy life requires living a life of virtue. Furthermore, when someone is not living a morally good life, then they are not living a happy life. For Aristotle, when a state or government ensures all their citizens live virtuous lives, then it is a just state. The purpose of the state is to prioritize the happiness of its citizens, so Aristotle does not think that there is a perfect and most just form of government because the forms he discusses do not prioritize its citizens happiness.
Monarchy and Tyranny Destruction
Aristotle speaks on monarchy and the causes of its destruction and perseverance. He states, “For royal rule is of the nature of an aristocracy, and a tyranny is a compound of oligarchy and democracy in their most extreme forms; it is, therefore, most injurious to its subjects, being made up of two evil forms of government, and having the perversions and errors of both” (Aristotle, Book 5). In explaining how tyranny is an extreme form of oligarchy and democracy, Aristotle may inherently consider the forms of government evil because of their vulnerability to erupt into violent states. He explains how aristocracy is, in its nature, a monarchy because they are led by noblemen and royals, while tyranny is an extreme form of democracy and oligarchy. In a monarchy and aristocracy, there is the notion that a king protects the rich from unjust treatment while protecting the poor from abuse at the hands of the rich. Aristotle mentions how tyrants are chosen to be the protectors against the nobles and royalty. Still, they function within the bounds of their own greed because they are not concerned with public interest but rather their own private interests. A monarchy is destroyed from within like most other forms of government. There are two ways a monarchy may be destroyed: “(1) when the members of the royal family quarrel among themselves, and (2) when the kings attempt to administer the state too much after the fashion of a tyranny, and to extend their authority contrary to the law” (Aristotle, Book 5). Democracy is “antagonistic to tyranny” whereas royalty and aristocracy are alike but opposite to tyranny due to the constitutional form of government. However, a tyranny is destroyed from the outside and, in the case of The Hunger Games, replaced with a democratic state. Additionally, there are two motives used to attack tyranny: hatred and contempt. Freedom and honor are taken away and replaced with anger and hatred, whereas contempt is represented by those who live luxurious lives at the expense of the poor (in this instance, there is no middle class).
EXAMPLE: Hunger Games – Katniss kills Coin — She attempted, and succeeded in, overthrowing a tyranny and its leader
Monarchy and Tyranny Preservation
Monarchies are preserved through the limitation of the power, specifically the power royalty holds. As stated by Aristotle, “The more restricted the functions of kings, the longer their power will last unimpaired; for then they are more moderate and not so despotic in their ways, and they are less envied by their subjects” (Aristotle, Book 5). Tyrannies are preserved in two different ways: the first being a state where tyrants run their government. It is a police state in that the people are allowed no privacy, given no social or developmental aid, prohibited public gatherings, and works to ensure the poor stay poor. Aristotle states, “the evil practices of the last and worst form of democracy are all found in tyrannies” (Aristotle, Book 5). For example, independence and dignity are frowned upon, and the “there is an ‘i’ in ‘team’” outlandish concept. The tyrant aims to humiliate subjects, create mistrust, and disable subjects to take action. The three policies of the tyrant distrust take away any form of power and humble the people. The second way a tyranny is preserved is how careful tyrants must be to maintain control over the subjects; power must be held onto to preserve the tyranny. Essentially, the tyrant should show himself as a king – to be moderate and not be the subject of hatred. The opposite of this is seen in Mad Max: Fury Road, where the tyranny had too much power to the point where its own subjects either revolted or began to revolt against the common enemy.
EXAMPLE: Mad Max: Fury Road — Explaining the character of Furiosa (Charlize Theron) living under the rule of a tyrannical dictator and how she did not give up hope in search of a better, free state (Behind the scenes)
In the final section of Book 5, Aristotle explains why tyrannies and oligarchies are the two shorted lived forms of government. The longest tyrannies ruled in Sicyon for 100 years and in Corinth for 73 years because the laws were moderate and the favor of the people was gained. Over the course of chapter 5 and even throughout The Politics, Aristotle discusses how a change in forms of government is unavoidable, prominently due to time. I will end the discussion of Book 5 with this: Can a modern US really call itself a democracy or democratic state, especially today? Is there a possibility that tyranny could evolve as a result of a failed democratic state? Especially because revolutions do not just occur because of money, but rather from the rich not wanting the poor to rise up and be a prominent part of the government, which is a suffocating problem the US faces.
Democratic versus Oligarchic Constitutions: Which one is more flawed?
In Book 5, Aristotle goes into depth about different forms of government, their destruction and preservation, and how revolutions shape the people and the state. However, in Book 6, Aristotle shifts focus on democratic and oligarchic states and their constitutions. There is a possibility of the two forms intertwining in a way, and the combinations are a result of “ the deliberative part of the government, and the election of officers is constituted oligarchy, and the law-courts aristocratically, or when the courts and the deliberative part of the state are oligarchical, and the election to office aristocratically, or when in any other way there is a want of harmony in the composition of a state” (Aristotle, Book 6). First, Aristotle discusses democracy and the characteristics and two differences created: “One (1) differences of the population; for the popular element may consist of husbandmen, or of mechanics, or of laborers, and if the first of these be added to the second or the third to the two others, not only does the democracy become better or worse, but its very nature is changed. A second cause (2) remains to be mentioned: the various properties and characteristics of democracy, when variously combined, make a difference” (Aristotle, Book 6). When establishing a democracy, it is best not to force together all the elements that make it one; refer back to the preservation and destruction of states. To further elaborate, when establishing a government and its constitution, it is essential that corruption does not run amuck. Democracy, in this instance, best perseveres in a society that allows for the people to have equal control and not to give the rich an unequal amount of control or wealth.
Aristotle’s Crash Course on Democracy
Diving further into democracy, “The basis of a democratic state is liberty” (Aristotle, Book 6). Similarly, as seen in the fifth amendment of the US constitution, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. … nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (Constitutioncenter.org). Ultimately, liberty is the goal of democracy, and the principles are as such: “all to rule and be ruled in turn; whence it follows that the majority must be supreme and that whatever the majority approve must be the end and the just; Every citizen, it is said, must have equality, and therefore in a democracy the poor have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme” (Aristotle, Book 6). The principles are the only way men believe equality and freedom can be secured in the state. Turning to the US as an example compared to Aristotle’s explanation of democracy, right off the bat, it can be seen that his principles do not exist in the modern US; the gap between the rich and poor has never been wider, and the poor do not, nor have it ever, had majority power especially over the rich, regardless of how many people there are. According to Aristotle, transitioning to the characteristics of a democracy is having elections of officers, judges, and magistrates to keep accounts and the assembly to “keep everything in check.” The second is having payments for services where everyone receives money when there is none, and finally that “no magistracy is perpetual, but if any such have survived some ancient change in the constitution it should be stripped of its power, and the holders should be elected by lot and no longer by vote” (Aristotle, Book 6).
EXAMPLE: To further demonstrate the power of corporate money and influence in US politics, a clip from Iron Man 3 where Tony, Iron Man, calls the VP of the US to warn him about The Mandarin but the clip insinuates that the VP is aware of what may happen and ignores the danger other people are in for personal interests under the influence of the villian, Killian, and his company. (Watch from 1:30-2:35)
Aristotle asks, “Next comes the question, how is this equality to be obtained?” (Aristotle, Book 6). The democratic notion says justice is when the majority agrees, whereas oligarchs state that it is according to the rich. Both forms are inherently flawed and ultimately lead to inequality; both agree that the majority equates to just actions. The two classes, rich and poor, are to settle disagreements based on either qualification or number of individuals. Aristotle states, “Now they agree in saying that whatever is decided by the majority of the citizens is to be deemed law” (Aristotle, Book 6).
As Aristotle states, “The mere establishment of a democracy is not the only or principal business of the legislator, or of those who wish to create such a state, for any state, however badly constituted, may last one, two, or three days; a far greater difficulty is the preservation of it” (Aristotle, Book 6). After the emergence of democracy, there is a challenge that faces the state: preservation. Overall, the best measures to maintain a democratic state are the ones that ensure the government lasts over time: providing a good foundation and writing laws that guard against destruction. Flaws of democracy include individuals’ faults; many do not bother attending assemblies unless there is a monetary value that is unacceptable, as seen by the rich. There is greed seen amongst the rich but also among those who are not. Citizens who contribute to the flaws of democracy see monetary value as a priority in order for society to function; all citizens are then fueled by greed and self interest. Hence, the solution in terms of assemblies is for qualified individuals to represent those in court who cannot or wish not to attend.
Preservation of Harmony and Order
Aristotle’s final thoughts in Book 6 focus on the need for states to preserve harmony and order within offices. He states, “No state can exist not having the necessary offices, and no state can be well administered not having the offices which tend to preserve harmony and good order” (Aristotle, Book 6). The necessary offices include: care of the market which allows for safe supply and demand, the second is supervision and embellishment of public and private buildings, road and house maintenance, dispute resolution, third is countryside management (Wardens), fourth is maintaining taxes and revenues (Treasurers), a fifth is registration of private contracts and court decisions (i.e., Presidents), and the final office is the charge of executing punishments and keeping custody of prisoners. There are also military positions, as stated previously, that is required mainly in times of war (Generals or Commanders). Additionally, an office that handles public money is required, and such positions are deemed, for example, Accountants or Auditors. Another office is concerned with religion and its preservation: priests or, as Aristotle states, “archons, sometimes kings, and sometimes prytanes” (Aristotle, Book 6). Those who look after good order have magistracy characteristics and are “guardians of women, & of children, director of gymnastics, Dionysiac contests & of spectacles” (Aristotle, Book 6). Having such offices, with the right people in those office positions, in an oligarchical state allows for the preservation of harmony and order within the state.
Happiness of the Individual and the State
In Book 7, Aristotle starts out by saying before people can determine what the best form of government and statehood is, first we must determine what the best way to live life is and then from there we will be able to understand and decide if that same life is suitable for the state. “We ought therefore to ascertain, first of all, which is the most generally eligible life, and then whether the same life is or is not best for the state and for individuals” (Aristotle Book 7). He then goes into how there are three different kinds of goods that need to be understood: external goods, goods of the body, and goods of the soul. Although philosophers have many disputes on the order and importance of each “good,” Aristotle believes that the good of the soul holds the most importance due to the soul being a boundless entity and the body and external goods having a measurable threshold. He goes on to make the argument that God does not have a body nor wealth and external goods and yet he is happy and full of virtue. Aristotle holds virtue and wisdom to the highest necessity and believes without those two things, it would be difficult to find happiness. “Let us acknowledge then that each one has just so much of happiness as he has of virtue and wisdom, and of virtuous and wise action. God is a witness to us of this truth, for he is happy and blessed, not by reason of any external good, but in himself and by reason of his own nature” (Aristotle Book 7). To Aristotle, being able to create and enjoy materialistic goods is made possible by having virtue and wisdom, not the other way around. So Aristotle concludes this section by saying that in order for a state to be happy and functioning it must be operated in a virtuous manner.
Aristotle then asks whether the goals and happiness of an individual is the same as that if the state. This means that if one believes a life of virtue would lead to happiness and stability then the same person would similarly think that a state of virtue would lead to a state of happiness. Aristotle believes that this holds true to everyone. Aristotle then goes on to ask a question with two options. The question being, “what kind of virtue produces happiness?” From an individual point of view is it better to take on the role of a statesman and govern over others? Or is it better to live the life of a philosopher contemplating life’s greatest questions? Aristotle says, “There are some who think that while a despotic rule over others is the greatest injustice, to exercise a constitutional rule over them, even though not unjust, is a great impediment to a man’s individual wellbeing. Others take an opposite view; they maintain that the true life of man is the practical and political, and that every virtue admits of being practiced, quite as much by statesmen and rulers as by private individuals” (Aristotle Book 7). Aristotle finally says that neither life can be argued to be better than the other and that both virtuous lifestyles are taking action in some shape or form and that is important. Here it seems as though Aristotle has decided virtue is really based upon purpose and curiosity. Although the life of a statesmen and a philosopher are on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of responsibilities and motive, the two professions serve a purpose and encourage the expansion of knowledge and innovation; which is what Aristotle holds in high regard.
The Ideal State
Aristotle then returns to the original question of what the ideal state would and should look like. He then creates a hypothetical scenario of his ideal state. He believed that when it came to size, a state should not be too small or it will not be able to rely on itself and its resources but also not too large or that those in power will not be able to effectively govern. Aristotle says that there should be a limit on the size of government so that those governing are able to accurately judge on another’s character. “Clearly then the best limit of the population of a state is the largest number which suffices for the purposes of life, and can be taken in at a single view. Enough concerning the size of a state.” (Aristotle Book 7). Aristotle says here essentially that the size of the state should be small and intimate enough that the constituents and government officials are able to know one another personally but large enough that the state itself is self sufficient. As for this limit, Aristotle is not necessarily clear on what the magic number is. Aristotle’s ideas on that of taste are similar to that of what a territory should look like. He thinks that living by the sea is also advantageous because it encourages commerce as well as easy access to sea ports and military entities like the navy. He says, “There can be no doubt that the possession of a moderate naval force is advantageous to a city; the city should be formidable not only to its own citizens but to some of its neighbors, or, if necessary, able to assist them by sea as well as by land. The only concern that Aristotle expresses with living by the sea is the possibility of foreign lands surrounding the area. This holds importance because during this time, imperialism was still prevalent and the strength of societies were defined by the strength of their military. If a specific area was not militarily strong, then they were susceptible to being conquered.
Ideal Citizen and Social Structure
Aristotle continues to describe his ideal state: he begins to outline his idea of the ideal citizen and social structure. He says that Eurpoeans, although they “are “full of spirit,” but “wanting in intelligence and skill; and therefore they retain comparative freedom, but have no political organization, and are incapable of ruling over others” (Aristotle Book 7). He then says the Asians are the opposite because they are “are intelligent and inventive, but they are wanting in spirit, and therefore they are always in a state of subjection and slavery.”(Aristotle Book 7). Aristotle goes on to say that he thinks Greeks are the perfect in between of these two cultures. Aristotle then goes on to describe the ideal social structure of a state. Concerning the caste system of a state Aristotle delineates the city into six sections: food, craftsmanship, property, worship, and government. Aristotle believed that food and crafts should be left to enslaved people and non citizens because they were the most laborious tasks.While the citizens should take control of the other sections and decide amongst themselves who does what. He decides that the younger people should take on more military responsibilities, the middle age should take part in government and the elders do work concerning the Gods. Aristotle says, “The land must therefore be divided into two parts, one public and the other private, and each part should be subdivided, part of the public land being appropriated to the service of the Gods, and the other part used to defray the cost of the common meals; while of the private land, part should be near the border, and the other near the city,” Aristotle believed that there should be enslaved people because they were a necessary part of of the functioning of a society. A slave to Aristotle is someone who by nature is under ownership of someone else and not themselves, being used as a tool for some sort of action. Although he believed in the separation of different entities and a caste system, Aristotle also believed that there should be walls surrounding the city and an environment where all people can live a safe healthy lifestyle.
Ideal Education and Household for Virtue
Aristotle then goes on to express how he thinks education should look in his hypothetical city. He says that since it is not obvious who should rule because no man is better than the other, people must take turns ruling, specifically the young and the old. The old should rule because they have several life experiences and impart wisdom. The young should hope to rule one day and educate themselves in a way that serves their greater community. Aristotle backs this up by saying “We conclude that from one point of view governors and governed are identical, and from another different. And therefore their education must be the same and also different. For he who would learn to command well must, as men say, first of all learn to obey. “(Aristotle Book 7). Aristotle maintained this idea that for a society to function freely, its constituents must be good people. Continuing this idea, he says that educators and statesmen need to constantly keep in mind that there needs to be a balance between teaching the nature of habit and the nature of reason because “.. in men rational principle and mind are the end towards which nature strives, so that the birth and moral discipline of the citizens ought to be ordered with a view to them.” (Aristotle Book 7). Meaning that men seem to use rational beliefs to find answers but in the process kill creativity and curiosity, so both should be taught. He says that with the education of children specifically, they should be allowed to roam free of labor and responsibility up until the age of 5. Then when they are to be educated they should be shielded from certain images and words to protect their innocence due to how impressionable they are. When it came to marriage, Aristotle believed that the time for procreation should be within certain ages due to biological observation. He believed that women should not be asked for their hand in marriage before the age of 18 and men should not be looking to procreate until the age of 37 because these are the prime ages for reproduction. Aristotle believed in the consultation of physicians on when to have children as well. Lastly, Aristotle believed that abortion should be on a case to case basis depending on populaton control, birth defects, and customary law while adultery should not be allowed.
The Importance of Education
Aristotle stresses the importance of education that must be public to all citizens in a city. All the citizens belong to the city are meant to work together; therefore, a citizen does not belong to himself. The Lacedaemonians are known for their disciplined approach to training their children and values education to have a thriving state. It is necessary for the youth to have access to public education, and a law should be created to require young people to be educated. What should be taught? He believes children should be taught moral goodness and pure knowledge. The four branches of education that are useful to be taught are (1) reading and writing, (2) gymnastic exercises, (3) music, and (4) drawing (Aristotle, Book 8). He states, “if he does or learns anything for his own sake or for the sake of his friends, or with the view to excellence the action will not appear illiberal; but if done for the sake of others the very same action will be thought menial and servile” (Aristotle, Book 8). All the branches have a valuable purpose of teaching that will challenge them to use their knowledge in society except for music. Music is meant for leisure that is pleasurable and relaxing; it is not necessarily essential compared to reading and writing. He states that gymnastic exercises are good for the youth to participate, but it is not meant for excessive training. Aristotle expands on the role music has in education since it is underappreciated but is a valuable skill. He states music should be taught as it will encourage the youth to learn to perform and study it.