An aristotelian view on the city and citizen

We will have much more to say later on the topic of regimes. According to Aristotle, a good citizen and a good man must work towards not only the welfare of the state, but also perform various other duties.

Descent from a citizen.

Aristotle's Political Theory

He wanted to rationalize the situation in Athens and was opposed to radical transformation. The extent and content of any missing material is a matter of scholarly debate.

Doing so would require far more governmental control over citizens than most people in Western societies are willing to allow. Readers of the Politics are familiar with the close attention Aristotle pays to the two regimes most commonly seen in the ancient Greek polis—democracy and oligarchy.

For it is peculiar to man as compared to the other animals that he alone has a perception of good and bad and just and unjust and other things of this sort; and partnership in these things is what makes a household and a city a8.

In the end, the Slave and the Hero, as caricatures of the possible, seem to be only that.

aristotle and Citizenship

There are a number of different varieties of democracy and oligarchy because cities are made up of a number of different groups of people, and the regime will be different depending on which of these groups happens to be most authoritative. For a modern example, many people who would not throw trash on their own front yard or damage their own furniture will litter in a public park and destroy the furniture in a rented apartment or dorm room.

Rowe and Malcolm Schofield eds. In this case, however, the husband does not alternate rule with the wife but instead always rules. Notice that Aristotle does not define the political community in the way that we generally would, by the laws that it follows or by the group that holds power or as an entity controlling a particular territory.

And yet the one who first constituted [a city] is responsible for the greatest of goods" [a29]. So the study of politics will only be useful to those who have the experience and the mental discipline to benefit from it, and for Aristotle this would have been a relatively small percentage of the population of a city.

For example, in order to understand political phenomena, he had his students collect information on the political organization and history of different cities.

The greatness of Athenian plays, architecture, sculpture, and philosophy could not have been achieved without the institution of slavery. This, obviously, is another major difference between Aristotle and contemporary Western societies, which respect and admire business expertise, and encourage many of our citizens to acquire and develop such expertise.

Aristotle: Politics

There is, then, a need for much [of the virtue of] justice and much moderation on the part of those who are held to act in the best way and who have all the gratifications that are regarded as blessings, As it turns out, however fine these regimes are in theory, they cannot be put into practice, and this is obviously reason enough not to adopt them.

This is because he opined that the above-mentioned sections of the people do not have moral and intellectual excellence to be able to serve as a member of popular assembly. And if the middle class becomes the largest class, outweighing the other two combined, so much the better.

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 three forms of unjust government are perversions of the corresponding forms of just government: In fact, what people in Western societies generally ask from politics and the government is that they keep each of us safe from other people through the provision of police and military forces so that each of us can choose and pursue our own ends, whatever they may be.

What are those attributes? There is the further question of whether manual laborers can be citizens. However, a good regime appears to be the sort which will minimize the effect of disparate nature between its citizens. University of Chicago Press,revised edition. They aimed to create, and hoped their posterity would sustain, a middle-class republic combining egalitarian social mores with a recognition of merit, whose citizens despised idleness but did not idolize wealth, who understood that liberty and virtue are mutually reinforcing, who jostle each other in pursuit of their individual and factional interests but who unite in love of country and devotion to its principles, and who may resent having to pay attention to politics but do pay enough attention to be responsible voters.

Aristotle points out that though citizenship is often reserved for those who are born to citizen parents, this hereditary status becomes irrelevant in times of revolution or constitutional change, during which the body of citizens alters.

Women have their own role in the household, preserving what the man acquires.

Aristotle’s Theory of Citizenship and Slavery

Aristotle believes that it is not easy to be virtuous, and he knows that becoming virtuous can only happen under the right conditions.

The discussion turns to "expertise in household management. Indeed, it is the shared pursuit of virtue that makes a city a city. Such a man will know the general rules to be followed, but will also know when and why to deviate from those rules. Aristotle did write for general audiences on these subjects, probably in dialogue form, but only a few fragments of those writings remain.

And this parting gift of our late friend is also timely. He insists that we can only fully realize our rationality and humanity as citizens of a city-state, and so he concludes that fully realized humans are, by necessity, political animals.

Essay on the Aristotle’s Concept of Citizen and Its Criticisms

A constitution is just when it benefits everyone in the city and unjust when it benefits only those in power. There is only one situation in which the virtue of the good citizen and excellent man are the same, and this is when the citizens are living in a city that is under the ideal regime: Many liberal democracies fail to get even half of their potential voters to cast a ballot at election time, and jury duty, especially in the United States, is often looked on as a burden and waste of time, rather than a necessary public service that citizens should willingly perform.

Studies of Particular Topics 1.Being a citizen is not, for Aristotle, simply a formal legal status, but implies very specific political rights and duties. A citizen in an unqualified sense is one who has a share in ruling the city.

The idea of Polity is that all citizens should take short turns at ruling (VII, b). 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, a).

Thus the individual needs the city more than the city needs any of its individual citizens; as Aristotle says in Book 8 before beginning his discussion of the desirable education for the city’s children, "one ought not even consider that a citizen belongs to himself, but rather that all belong to the city; for each individual is a part of the city" (a26).

A notion of natural inequality is central to Aristotle’s conception of humanity, with a view to both individual and communal living.

It is a binding principle in the conception of the City (polis) as the highest form of partnership (koinonia), and even forms the basis for establishing the necessity of partnership itself. Aristotle is greatly concerned with the preservation of civil peace in the city-state.

One of the most common causes of “faction” and civil war, he says, was the unhappy consequences of unassimilated immigration and the consequent diversity. Leslie Rubin’s portrait of Aristotelian America and American Aristotelianism is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of our situation.

whose citizens despised idleness but did not idolize wealth, But Rubin argues that right in the middle of the Politics is the best political regime in Aristotle’s view.

An aristotelian view on the city and citizen
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