A confusion of the constitutions
A confusion of the constitutions, which is the main backbone of any state—in this case we mean that, the form of government—is formed and recognized as well as determined through the type of constitution found in that particular state. Aristotle, in his struggle to present a perfect or an ideal form of government gives a detailed description of the constitutions found in various states he had been to, such as Athens.
This paper consists of three sections, which are named chapters, which will guide us through understanding the ideal state as defended by Aristotle in somewhat against his own master and teacher Plato, who thought of a better form of government to be the monarchy and despising democracy as another good choice of a form of government and backing up his premises with various theories such as the theory of forms in which he gives a much more expounded information on the ideal state.
In Chapter one, we shall base more in looking at the early life of Aristotle. This will be divided into other several sub-topics including his background which will make us know better who he is and where he came from, his parents, wife and children as well as the places he did his studies. After having seen his background we will be in a good position now to look at his personality and approach to politics, influence and the various work that he had written as philosophical presentations.
Chapter two will take us through Aristotle’s political stance, in which we shall see the argument against Plato’s theory of form which was used to prove that the practice of democratic form of government was unfair due to mistreating his own teacher and great philosopher of his time, Socrates as we read in the Socratic trials written by Plato himself, the forms of government as suggested by Aristotle, elements of the state, statesmen or citizens—in which we shall see who is qualified and supposed to be called a citizen according to various constitutions. We are also going to see the critique to Aristotle’s premises in chapter three, conclusion and finally the bibliography.
“Aristotle, whose name means “the best purpose”, was born in the year 384 in Stagira, a small Greek colonial town a little to the east of modern Salonica, bordering the Kingdom of Macedonia. He studied in Athens in the school of Plato and after whose death he also left the school. His father Nicomachus, used to be a physician to a previous king, Amyntas II of Macedonia, this may help us explain how he came to be a tutor in his middle age, around 342 BC, to the young prince Alexander whose father, Philip then it seems was so much interested in Aristotle.
Since Aristotle’s father was a physician, one would automatically have a thought that even Aristotle would follow the same route and path as his father of becoming a physician because he also studied and specialized in scientific fields such as marine biology which gave him more interest and much pleasure while studying. Nevertheless, this was not his field of interest it seems. There are circumstances which made him not pursue this career.
He married Pythias the sister of Hermias, who bore him two children whose names were after Aristotle’s father, Nicomachus and his wife Pythias. He later became the teacher at his own school of philosophy which was in Athens and was famously known as Peripatetic school which literally means a wondering school where it is said he got many students who were his followers and to whom he became their master and teacher.
In around the year 335 B.C, Aristotle arrived in Athens and found a school of his own, the Lyceum, adjacent to the Platonic school or Academy, which was now under his own old associate, Xenocrates, whom he used to travel with to Assus a year before. “The Athens to which he returned was still, in form, a free city; but it was not the old free city which he had left in 347.” History has it that due to the battle of Chaeronea, which was dubbed as ‘fatal of Liberty’ made Greece a Macedonian protectorate and Macedonian Antipater, was a dominant figure for the rest of Aristotle’s life.
1.2 Personality and Approach to Politics
To know the personality of a person, it is then important to observe his behaviour in the everyday activities, that is to say in what he mostly likes doing. Aristotle’s personality and approach to politics is much better observable in his own works. He was of course a man of affairs and he knew the various ways that the court used to operate and the ways of thinking of a number of statesmen such as Alexander, Antipater and Hermias.
His unbeatable inquisitiveness for the Greek minds was at its zenith. So far, all the records of his life live behind the impression of a generous temper he had possessed. “His will shows him not only concerned for the emancipation of his slaves, but also for the welfare of all his relatives and connexions; and there are passages in his writings which show him struggling upwards from the curiosity of the scientist to the vision of the contemplative.”
It is obvious that there must be something that spurred him to love politics and develop different approaches towards politics. What factor compelled him to politics instead of falling in love with other areas of study? This remains unsolvable question and the real factors that motivated him remain immutable. Other scholars can only try to interpret and make an intelligent guess from the writings of Aristotle, but the truth will remain unknown to many. “He had not only a large experience of affairs (added to, or issuing in, a wide humanity which made him think that nothing human, however ‘perverse’ it might seem, was alien from his studies): he had also an inductive habit of mind, which made him accumulate and catalogue all the available data.”
The strategies that Aristotle employs in the politics were important to enable him to deal rightly with the subject under study;
The reader of politics will notice this habit of mind at work throughout—from the eleventh chapter of the first book (with its record of the financial strokes of Thales of Miletus and ‘the man of Sicily’) and the whole of the second book (with its exhaustible catalogue of the ideal states of Greek theory and practice) to the series of books, the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth, which are so abundantly ‘documented’ that the trees occasionally obscure the wood.
Perhaps two things that are quite evident might have influenced his life and the direction of his future studies. In the first place, both of his parents were of Ionian origin. The Ionians loved so much methodical investigation of nature tendency of the Ionians was towards the scientific investigation of nature and all that it contains thus “…we are perhaps entitled to fancy—but it is little more than a fancy—that the blood in his veins carried with it a scientific strain, and impelled him towards that preoccupation with nature, or physis, which marks so much of his thought.” He was also influenced by great philosophers of his time who really built up his intellect and helped him to stand strong on his own. His intellect was exemplary all over the locality and no man of his own calibre would beat him up in this field of philosophy.
The environment which he was surrounded by was also quite influential to him and thought-provoking as he always lived amongst the philosophers such as Plato who was the student of Socrates. These were the greatest thinkers, his own parent being the medical professional to the king was a sign that he was much well intellectually equipped, this was an influence thus to his son, Aristotle.
1.3.1 Influence from Plato
When Aristotle was still a teenager of Athens, he attended the school of Plato whose teacher, Socrates, was of great influence too to the formation of his own philosophy. It is believed that in Plato’s Academy Aristotle pursued mathematics, ethics and politics which later changed completely his ways of reasoning. It is not very clear what else he might have pursued as his field of interest in building his intellect above and beyond what is mentioned.
Plato might have imparted a critical reasoning in the young Aristotle’s mind by the teaching of his own thought and introducing him to new knowledge of critical analysis of the things that surrounded them. Plato, after seeing the best academic excellence in Aristotle, accepted him as a teacher in his own school and even after his death, Aristotle continued to head the school of his master until when he opened his own school in Athens.
In between the period of the years 335 BC and 323 BC Aristotle is believed to have composed and written many of his famous works whereby most of them survived in fragments before they became published and well kept. His works are most educating in todays’ generation looking at them at any angle. Since Aristotle remained in Plato’s Academy as a teacher for two decades, ”At this period he must have written those works which Plutarch called Platonic, dialogues on ethical and political subjects, which were much admired in antiquity for their style but which are now lost.”
Aristotle’s ethics teaches more of morality to all—men, women, children, young and old. Any state without having moral standards and observation for every citizen is a failed state, because ethics is all about teaching the good values—morality of the nation. His book of politics gives the best and exemplary outlook of the ways the ideal state should be, and this is what we are exactly going to discuss in this paper.
Aristotle is known for writing many books—the law, Nicomachean ethics, metaphysics, de anima, and so forth, among which the politics is on the front list. Since the politics speaks a lot of the ideal state, it is good to see how Aristotle himself divides the book into different sections or methods;
They are six in number. (A) The first, which is represented by book I, is concerned with the household, or with ‘economy’ (which in its Greek sense means ‘the management of the household’), as a subject of consideration prior to the polis and the government of the polis. This section begins by distinguishing the association of the household from other forms of association; and it proceeds to deal with factors the life of the household as slavery, property, and the institution of marriage.
The ideal state has to be discussed now both in theory and in a very practical way, that is to say in its really situation as it appears and as it should be and no more in theoretically again. “(B) The second section, which is represented by Book II is concerned with ideal state both in theory and in practice. It deals first with the theories of Plato’s Republic and Laws, and with those of two other inventors of utopias; and it then proceeds to deal with actual states (in Sparta, Crete, and Carthage) which in one way or another approach the ideal.” Here Aristotle does not give the sketch of his ideal state nevertheless.
Aristotle still further presents his own methodos in another book, Book III, to deal with the general theory of political constitutions. The book scrutinizes four themes which deal with, “the nature of citizenship; the classification of constitutions; the principles of ‘distributive justice’ followed in different constitutions (especially democracy and oligarchy); and the theory of kingship.”
The other methodos is found in two books which are Books IV and V of the Politics. “(…) is entirely realistic, and concerned with the problems of actual politics. It first deals (in Book IV) with the political morphology of the different varieties of democracy and oligarchy; with the ‘polity’ or mixed constitution, which blends and reconciles oligarchy and democracy; with the ‘relativity’ of different constitutions to different peoples;(…).”
The fifth method is presented in the fifth book of the Politics. It is more on the way the oligarchy and democracy are to be established and ensuring their stability in the states. “It thus repeats, in a sense, a them which has already been handled in the middle of the previous methodos (the theme of the proper methods of organizing constitutions); but it does so from a different point of view—that of ensuring constitutional stability—which makes it a new and separate method.”
In this last part of his book the politics, Aristotle presents his last methodos in Books VII and VIII to deal with the same political issue and to bring to the knowledge of the people his suggestion of the ideal state. He first of all discusses the proper population, the social type and the structure as well as the physical planning of an ideal polis. He also does not forget the general principles and the proper scheme of education in such a polis with reference to the methods of education in music.
ARISTOTLE’S POLITICAL STANCE
2.1 Argument Against Plato’s Theory of Forms
Plato was a teacher to Aristotle but Aristotle his student who had remarkable and immeasurable intellectual powers which led him to being called “the mind of the school” by his teacher Plato, chooses to differ from his own master’s point of view. A student cannot surpass his teacher’s knowledge because the teacher holds a higher knowledge which cannot be contrasted to any of his student’s. Plato’s theory of forms is a philosophical way of proposing a particular system of government by defending his own proposal and opposing that which he thinks is not the best type and ideal to the people.
Let us see how Plato came to suggest his theory of forms. His suggestion comes after the long discussions and many attempts of the early philosophers such as Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes, to explain the origin of universe whose conclusions were based on water, air, fire and apeiron. This was according to the ancient philosophers’ arguments and findings. The early philosophers were opposed by the Sophists who came up with their own view of the origin of the universe after seeing the contradictions that arose from the different findings of the ancient philosophers who were considered to have failed to explain the universe.
The Sophists came up with some questions which prompted them to find out the solution to the puzzle of the universe such as; if the object of study is the same which is—universe, and the question is the same, why come with different answers? The Sophists found out that the possibility to respond to the question were only two chances and that is either that the world is not known, or those who are engaged in studying the universe are not able to unveil the universe. The most fitting was the latter, that they are not able to study the universe.
After arriving to the conclusion, another doubt came up; can the human mind know the universe as it is or only as it appears to each person individually? Surely it can only know that which appears and not as it is. In this case, the Sophists concluded that truth belongs to no one since it is relative and thus it can only be reached through consensus or popular consent and under this umbrella, rises the Athenian Democracy.
It seems to Plato that the Athenian democracy was unfair to his teacher Socrates as it is indicated in the Socratic trials in the dialogues. In this form of government, people are moved more by emotions rather than putting the truth at the centre. Plato in his book the dialogues suggests aristocracy (as opposed to democracy) which is the government for the few as the best form of government, supported by his doctrine of forms or theory of forms, developed from the allegory of the cave to the doctrine of the divided line.
Imagination, that is seeing images in the cave, and in the divided line, is considered by Plato as the lowest level of thinking. Imagination and believing is the dwelling place of the majority and democracy is formed and well established here. This is considered as the lowest level of human operation. From the world of form, come only those people thinking in terms of ideas and pure thoughts. This is the dwelling place of the philosophers and these are the only possible people to rule the state. Plato’s suggestion was typically for Aristocratic form of government which turned into a Monarchy.
2.2 Forms of Government
It is very important to know the forms of government in order to go deep in our description. “First, let us consider (…) how many forms of government there are by which human society is regulated.” Aristotle presents the classification of the forms of government in way that are easy to understand and to decide which to follow. These forms of government are quite practical in the modern world as it is believed to have been adopted in many years ago in many countries whose names are a big number to mention. “We have next to consider whether there is only one form of government or many, what they are and how many, and what are the differences between them.”
The grouping of the forms of government by Aristotle pave a way for us; “Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and student of Plato, classified government into three. They are: government based on the rule by one; government based on the rule by few, and government based on the rule by many.” And the following paragraph explains;
We have pointed out that political government is exercised by a person, or group of persons, whose practical judgments are accepted by the community as norms of social order. It follows that there will be as many forms of government as there are manners in which the practical judgments of a person, or group of persons, may become such norms. There are thus, as Aristotle observed, three basic forms of political authority: (…) monarchy, (…) aristocracy, (…) polity. Each of these three forms may be lawful, in so far as each may be constituted, in fact, by the commission of the community, and each may conscientiously promote the objective common good. These forms of government are perverse, either those imposing their practical judgments possess no commission on the part of the community, or when, having received such a commission, their judgments are directed to their own personal advantage or to some particular good rather to the genuine common good. Aristotle notes that Monarchy, when perverted, becomes tyranny; that aristocracy degenerates into oligarchy or plutocracy (a rule which seeds to promote the interests of the wealthy citizens); and that polity degenerates into what he called democracy or mob rule (which seeks the particular advantage of poorer citizens to the detriment of the common good).
In order to understand these forms presented by Aristotle, the detailed description of each form is definitely going to be of help, as it will shed more light on how a particular form of government is supposed to or is run and what are the means and ways and people who can manage such forms of government. Any form of government depends on the particular circumstances of a state. The following is an elaborative description of the three forms of the government.
This form of government is based on the rule of the few people who are privileged and their number is very small ranging from ten perhaps to twenty. They are considered to be wise in making the most serious decisions in their government and they are most just, as well as the most honest, this was perhaps to mean that they are not engaged in the dirty practice of corruption which others cannot live without. Only men of good integrity were the qualified to hold the various positions in this form of government.
One of the direct examples of the aristocracy as a form of government is that which was found in the Carthagian constitution. Carthage had its constitution similar to that of the other two place which are Spartan and Cretan. ”In deed the three constitutions with which we are here concerned—the Cretan, the Spartan, and the Carthagian—are all closely related to one another, and they all differ greatly from other constitutions.”
Aristotle in his book politics gives an elaboration on this form of government; “Of forms of government (…) we call (…) that in which more than one, but not many, rule, aristocracy; and it is so called, either because the rulers are the best men, or because they have at heart the best interests of the state and of the citizens.” It is not clear about how these men who ascended into power in this form of government, aristocracy, held the various positions in the government and whether they were appointed or not, because they are not many and they were considered to be wisest in the state, honest to the citizens and serious in decision making for the better standing of their state.
This is another form of government that Aristotle also discusses in the politics. It is a form that is under one man who is called monarch who normally comes from a family which is considered being loyal and to have a divine power in ruling. The leadership in monarchy is normally kept hereditary and the monarch rules until he passes down. Different from other form, monarchy can turn into an awkward form which its way of operation is like a mastership, that is control over the slaves, that is the ruled or the citizens. “The perverse form of monarchy is called tyranny. He rules for his own benefits and ego, accumulates wealth and satisfies his lust for power. Such a ruler is not legitimate and the people has the right and the duty to remove him in power.”
Since monarchy is the rule of one, it then comprises of both terms such as tyranny and kingship. Aristotle studied and described the beginning and the collapse of the monarchy due to the huddles it encountered in the ancient times and the Aristotle’s era such as the causes for revolutions in the monarchies. Therefore;
In monarchies generally, revolutions are caused by resentment of insults; by fear; by contempt; or by a desire for fame. Tyrannies are liable to be overthrown by the influence of neighboring states of an opposite character: they may also be destroyed by internal causes; and the causes which particularly lead to their overthrow are hatred and contempt. Kingships are more durable; but with the general growth of equality they are becoming antiquated, and the form of monarchial government now is prevalent is tyranny based on force.
Apart from the two there is another form which is the most difficult to attain and this is none other than polity. When all relevant citizen, that is all who are qualified to be called citizens in the state, participate in the making of decision in an open discussion, compromise and mollification in the state. Although this form seems to be complicated in achieving the fruits, it involves not only a few members of the state but also all mature and qualified members to take part in the governing of their state.
The defect of this form is that it is very much limited to a small area in its operation for its effectiveness. “Of course, this is only possible in the small city-states that Aristotle knew so well. Again, the characteristics of this government are just, the highest form of wisdom is compromise and conciliation, and government that generally works for the benefit of all.”
The name democracy did not exist by then but by the way that polity functioned, this made it dubbed as democracy. “The perverse form of polity was labeled as democracy. Democracy is a form of government where people would go into the chambers of government not to do social justice but rather seek for their own ends. No one is willing to compromise in order to achieve solutions to problems. This causes a breakdown in the process of government and eventually a collapse of government. Over the years, the Aristotle’s polity became synonymous with representative government or democracy and his perverse form of polity was renamed as mob rule or anarchy.”
Obviously depending on the kind of people found in the state, democracy will take various forms;
The first variety of democracy is that which is so called because it is based chiefly on the principle of equality. In such a democracy the law interprets equality as meaning that the poor shall not enjoy any more advantage than the rich, that neither shall be sovereign, but both shall be exactly similar. For if, as is held by some, freedom is especially to be found in democracy and also equality, this condition is most fully realized when all alike share most fully in the constitution.
The difference is the way of governing in the democracy and other forms of government as we have already seen that others do govern the government for other interests and one for another. Polity is the original name to democracy; “(…) when the masses govern the state with a view to the common interest, the name used for this species is the generic name common to all constitutions (or polities)—the name of polity. There is a good reason for the usage (which gives to this form a generic name, and not a special name which connotes, as the name ‘Aristocracy’ does, a special excellence).”
This as we already know is the most complicated form of government among all acknowledged by Aristotle himself. It is difficult to reach the desired goals due to its complexity in running; “It is possible for one man, or a few, to be of outstanding excellence; but when it comes to a large number, we can hardly expect a fine edge of all the varieties of excellence. What we can expect particularly is the military kind of excellence, which is the kind that shows itself in a mass. This is the reason why the defense forces are the most sovereign body under this constitution, and those who possess arms are the persons who enjoy constitutional rights.”
In short, according to Ernest Barker, the translator and the editor of The Politics of Aristotle, the three perversions that go hand in hand with the three forms of government are tyranny for kingship; Oligarchy for Aristocracy; and Democracy for Polity. “Tyranny is a government by a single person directed to the interest of that person; Oligarchy is directed to the interest of the well-to-do; Democracy is directed to the interest of the poorer classes. None of the three is directed to the advantage of the whole body of citizens.”
After all this, Aristotle has to tell us which one is the ideal state and or, how should the ideal state be; “There is a true union of Oligarchy and democracy when the same state may be termed either a democracy or an oligarchy; those who use both names evidently feel that the fusion is complete. Such a fusion there is also in the mean; for both extremes appear in it. The Lacedaemonian constitution, for example, is often described as a democracy, because it has many democratic features.”
Now Aristotle tries to give the reasons why the Lacedaemonian constitution was often described as a democracy; “In the first place the youth receive a democratical education. For the sons of the rich, who are educated in such a manner as to make it possible to for the sons of the poor to be educated like them. A similar equality prevails in the following in the following period of life, and when the citizens are grown up to manhood the same rule is observed; there is no distinction between the rich and the poor. In like manner they all have the same food at their public tables, and the rich wear only such clothing as any poor man can afford.”
2.3 Elements of the State
A number of forms of government are formed simply because of the different elements that are mostly the pushing factors to the formation of the various constitutions. “The reason why there are many forms of government is that every state contains many elements. In the first place we see that all states are made up of families, and in the multitude of citizens there must be some rich and some poor, and some in a middle condition; the rich are heavy-armed, and the poor are not. Of common people, some are husbandmen and some traders, and some artisans.”
The division of the citizens into high classes, middle classes and the lowest classes is what makes also the determination of the kind of government that the state is governed with, because not all can afford to live a luxurious life that a rich man lives. A rich man enjoys his livelihood because he is wealthy;
There are also among the notable differences of wealth and property—for example, in the number of horses which they keep, for they cannot afford to keep them unless they are rich. (…) Besides differences of wealth there are differences of rank and merit, and there are some other elements which were mentioned by us when in treating of aristocracy we enumerated the essentials of a state. Of these elements, sometimes all, sometimes the lesser and sometimes the greater number, have a share in the government. It is evident then that there must be many forms of government, differing in kind, since the parts of which they are composed differ from each other in kind. For constitution is an organization of offices, which all the citizens distribute among themselves, according to the power which different classes possess, for example the rich or the poor, or according to some principle of equality which includes both. There must therefore be as many forms of government as there are modes of arranging the offices, according to the superiorities and the differences of the parts of the state.
A Polity, as according to Aristotle should have both elements and yet neither. The government should be self-sustainable and not to rely on foreign aid, and on itself not through the good will of a majority because they may be disposed when the government is in the vicious circle over and over again. This is the challenge that polity encounters.
Aristotle still presents other more elements that form a government or a state in a more detailed manner as it is necessary to make all things clear. In this case, a quoted passage from his book explains;
The same, then, is true of the forms of government which have been described; states, as I have repeatedly said, are composed, not of one, but of many elements. One element is the food producing class, who are called husbandmen; a second, the class of mechanics which practise the arts without which a city cannot exist; —of these arts some are absolutely necessary, others contribute to luxury or to the grace of life. The third class is that of traders, and by traders I mean those who are engaged in buying and selling, whether in commerce or in retail trade. A fourth class is that of the serfs and labourers. The warriors make up the fifth class, and they are as necessary as any of the others, if the country is not to be the slave of every invader. For how can a state which has any title to the name be of a slavish nature? The state is independent and self-sufficing, but a slave is a reverse of independent. (…) there must be someone who will dispense justice and determine what is just. And as the soul may be said to be more truly part of an animal than the body, so the higher part of the states, that is to say, the warrior class, the class engaged in administration of justice, and that engaged in deliberations (…) these are the most essential to the state than the parts which minister to the necessaries of life. (…) The higher as well as the lower elements are to be equally considered parts of the state, and if so, the military element at any rat must be included. There are also the wealthy who minister to the state with their property; these form the seventh class. The eighth class is that of magistrates and officers; for the state cannot exist without rulers. And therefore some must be able to take office and to serve the state, either always or in turn. There only remains the class of those who deliberate and judge between disputants; we were just now distinguishing them. If presence of all these elements, and their fair and equitable organization, is necessary to states, then there must also be persons who have the ability of statesmen.
A stateman is an ideal identity of a state according to various constitutions of states which also probably give a description of the relationship between a normal citizen and a good citizen who are the most desirable members of the particular state. Different constitutions of states require good citizens. Even in an ideal constitution there must be good citizens due to the variety of civic functions in the state but the difference still remains in that a good citizen is not same as a good man in the state for a stranger can also be a good man but not a good citizen.
Still it is a hot argument that whether, “(…) the excellence of a good man and that of a good citizen are identical or different. If this question is to be properly investigated, we must first describe the excellence of the citizen in some sort of outline. Just as a sailor is a member of an association (…), so too is a citizen. Sailors differ from one another in virtue of the different capacities in which they act: one is a rower, another a pilot (…).”
There cannot be a state without statesmen, for sure. It is still furthermore obvious that a statesman or in a simpler term a citizen cannot be any person found in the state, for there are foreigners who entered legally and those who are intruders, as well as slaves and workmen in the same state. Although there could be different ways of defining who a citizen is, and who can be a legal citizen of a particular state, Aristotle has always been clear to his own ideas trying to give the most authentic definition of the of the citizen so as to remove the possible ambiguity. “He who is a citizen is in a democracy, will not often be a citizen in an oligarchy.”
A foreigner cannot be considered a citizen or even a proper citizen according to Aristotle since he has no any qualities that can make him a viable citizen of a state. “But the citizen whom we are seeking to define is a citizen in a strictest sense, against whom no such exception can be taken, and his special characteristic is that he shares in the administration of justice, and in offices. (…) He who has the power to take part in the deliberative or judicial administration of any state is said by us to be a citizen of that state; and, speaking generally, a state is a body of citizens sufficing for the purpose of life.”
Nevertheless, there are several other conditions which are to be met by an individual in order to obtain citizenship of a particular state. The participation in the administration alone is not enough for the original citizenship. This is what would hinder most people who claim to be citizens in a such and such state, because it states categorically other demands which no foreigner is capable of meeting them.
The eligibility of one to be called a citizen makes the state remain with the purest and the indigenous citizens truly belonging to the state to whom the title statesmen perfectly fit. “But in practice a citizen is defined to be one of whom both the parents are citizens; others insist on going further back; say to two or three or more ancestors. This is a short and practical definition; but there are some who raise the further question: How this third or fourth ancestor came to be a citizen?”
In that case, a citizen will then differ necessarily according to the constitutions. It is still difficult to determine whether apart from the indigenous or those who have the family generations of up to four generations, great grandparents and both parents being born in that state, the rest such as the workers and the house maids can be called citizens of that particular state in any case. Whether they are accepted or rejected citizenship is what we are eagerly waiting to know.
That the workmen and laborers obtain the aptness to be called citizens in only a few constitutions is a question of discussion in order to so as to provide adequate reasons to why not in other constitutions too which also are used in those particular states where a laborer and workmen in one constitution is not considered a citizen in another state according to constitution. “One problem concerning the citizen remains: Is it really the case that the citizen is he who has the right to take part in the government, or should we call workmen also citizens? If we are to include these persons also, who have no part in governing, such goodness cannot belong to every citizen, this man being a citizen. But, if such a person is not a citizen, in what class are we to put him? He is not a resident foreigner, nor a stranger.”
The argument at this juncture rests far away concerning merely the definition of a citizen. We now must consider the qualification or the factors that qualify one to be a legal citizen in a state. Those who are noted to have encroached into the state and make themselves citizens are rightly dealt with strict rules of the law of the state which is the constitution. “The dispute here is not who is a citizen, but whether he is wrongly or rightly a citizen. One might, however, go further and argue that one who is wrongly a citizen is not a citizen, on the ground that wrong means same as false.”
Aristotle worked on the premises of Plato; —to defend his own political favour of democracy—his own teacher whom, it is believed, that he disagreed with the democratic form of government by presenting his defence for having disagreed through the theory of forms and the allegory of the cave. At first, Plato believes that it is true that democracy is the rule of the people and by the people for the people, but it is being driven by ignorance of truth:
Behold! Human beings living in an underground den, which has the mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets. I see. And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
Critically, Aristotle’s argument on democracy as the form which would bring the poor and the reach at the point of being equal is illogical since it has been observed that it is only theoretical, needs a small population and area, and can be only well discussed and argued about, but the truth remains that, “Of course, this is only possible in the small city-states that Aristotle knew so well. Again, the characteristics of this government are just, the highest form of wisdom is compromise and conciliation, and government that generally works for the benefit of all.”
In this form of government, it is true that the people rule by themselves, but the defect is that their power is given to one individual who becomes the most powerful in the state than any other statesmen. Why then to adopt this form of constitution where the people are only temporarily powerful, in situation like removing the representative from power when only he misbehaves? The other forms which have been less considered such as monarchy in which power is inherited and only one family which is thought of having been divinely privileged controls the state and things are always in order.
In the Republic of Plato, Socrates is very keen on who is to lead the state and the statesmen. Aristotle pays less attention on this and only those considered to be having some power to lead ascend into governing the state, this is not the case with Socrates in the Republic;
Socrates’ argument is that in the ideal city, a true philosopher with understanding of forms will facilitate the harmonious co-operation of all the citizens of the city. This philosopher-king must be intelligent, reliable, and willing to lead a simple life. However, these qualities are rarely manifested on their own, and so they must be encouraged through education and the study of Good. Just as visible objects must be illuminated in order to be seen, so must also be true of objects of knowledge if light is cast on them. Just as light comes from the Sun, so does truth come from goodness. Goodness as the source of truth makes it possible for the mind to know, just as light from the Sun makes the eyes able to see.
Aristotle has tried to present very well his argument against, from the look of things, his own teacher and master. All that Plato presented seemed to be secondary to Aristotle and all that Aristotle presented looks of secondary importance to the master, but their ideas and ways of thinking were of good intention which is to get the best form of government or constitution from the many that existed although they differed only in views and thus ways of presenting.
Both Aristotle and his master preferred monarchy in a real sense, nevertheless Aristotle found it not compatible due to the way of ruling that Plato suggests. The ideal state can only be a reality if the constitutions accept to combine some features which seem to be good in one which they prefer. An ideal state is what most people all over the world, and especially in Africa, desire to have. If we take some features of the teacher of Aristotle and Aristotle himself and combine them together in order to form an ideal state, we shall surely come up with one which can meet all the needs of all the citizens and foreigners who are not the indigenous of that particular state.
Politics is important to every state since that is like a main channel that those who are to become leaders of the states can only climb to power through involving themselves in a particular form of government, not only many countries are transparent to their constitutions, and that is why in the African continent corruption is at its highest-level ad it is still rising because nobody cares for the citizens, or for the better of the society.
Barker, Ernest. (Ed.,). The Politics of Aristotle. London: Oxford University Press, 1958.
Sinclair, T.A. (Trans.). The Politics. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd, 1992.
Benjamin, Jowett. (Trans.). Aristotle’s Politics. New York: Random House, Inc., 1943.
Thornhill, John. S.M. The Person and the Group. Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1967.
Ackrill, J.L. and Judson, Lindsay. (Eds.,). Aristotle Politics Books III and IV. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.
Kaplan, Justin D. (Ed,). The Dialogues of Plato. New York: Washington Square Press, 1972.
Mihanjo, Adolph PhD. Political Philosophy. Unpublished Class Notes, Moshi: Don Bosco College of Philosophy and Education, Moshi, 2017.
Retrieved on 19th November 2017.
Retrieved on November 15, 2017.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_(Plato), Retrieved on November 28, 2017.