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The Politics 1997

Based on the passage from Aristotole’s The Politics (1997), it can be gathered that Aristotle is establishing the relationship of the individual and collective. As individuals live in a collective, may the collective be a community or a city, individuals play certain roles in order to move the city forward or at least, sustain the functionality of the city by means of certain contributions.

Should individuals find themselves isolated, as Aristotle mentioned, they are referred to as either beast or god mainly because beasts do not know how to relate to others where a sense of the norm is expected whereas as a god, the city is considered beneath this particular individual. It can be gathered that Aristotle’s passage shows that the state of isolation can be due to the choice of the individual not to participate in the city or the community.

Although it is possible that an individual may have any political associations within the city, an individual at least gets to participate in the overall social dynamics by means of participation such as through election or at least, a discourse. This relationship demonstrates that the individual establishes a sense of interdependence with the community at various aspects; this can be seen in the economic elements between the city and the individual in which there is a certain sense of supply and demand, in fulfilling each other’s needs and wants.

Although there is nothing wrong with self-sufficiency, the challenge in this is that an individual will feel more isolated or even alienate other members of the society. As a result, self-sufficiency becomes the element that separates an individual from the rest when in fact, self-sufficiency is something that can initiate more relations. 2. Augustine (1950) discussed peace as a “great good”. In the City of God, he wrote about peace as an ultimate state, especially upon reaching the “final peace of her borders” (686).

As the ultimate desire and longing, peace, which is usually perceived to be attained through life eternal, Augustine actually explained that peace in itself is life eternal. Hence, peace can be regarded to be attained outside the sphere of mortality although it is what is longed for “with respect to earthly and mortal things”. The desire for peace can be considered multi-layered or at least, the concept of peace can pertain to many facets although there is the prevailing fundamental force of calmness, stability, and generally, a state of bliss.

What is interesting is that peace, as previously mentioned, is hard to attain especially in the earthly world and mortal things. Such world actually pertains to a state of chaos because the dynamics are too strong in these spheres; these dynamics, interestingly, can be observed to be further fuelled by the presence of conflict, aggression, and other conditions that can be considered as the opposite for peace. Hence, if this world is fuelled by such conditions, why is there an intention for peace if peace, according to Augustine, is achieved through life eternal which is outside mortality?

It can be gathered that the desire of peace is based on peace’s relationship with the earthly and mortal things; these earthly and mortal things represent the journey and the process in this world until an individual crosses the threshold to life eternal. Similar to journeys, peace is an end-goal although peace is seen as a possible yet temporary state that takes place in the mortal world. In a way, peace in the mortal world is all but a taste of what awaits people once they achieve life eternal. 3.

Machiavelli (1998) brought up a very interesting point in The Prince about whether the Prince should be loved or feared, and he proposed that it is safer to be feared. It can be said that the perception of the people brings about how they view their leader. A loved leader does not mean that the leader is an effective one as love is shrouded with conditions and expectations. To be feared demonstrates a distinction between the people and the leader; the presence of fear does not automatically mean the absence of love, but rather, there is a more heightened sense of respect.

From this, to be feared demonstrates a strong leadership that separates the prince from the rest. Between being loved or feared, the strength of being feared is not just confined in the prospect of respect but rather, being feared does not mean that there is an absence of love. A leader can be both feared and loved whereas it is harder to fear a loved leader because love connotes only the positive things. In a sense, when a leader is loved more than feared, the leader is seen to function well in favorable circumstances in which the main point of the state is to attain and maintain a good life.

Fear, on one hand, can make this possible and at the same time, the people have this thought that their leader is someone who is above and beyond the rest, and that the leader has a certain amount of power that is only specific to him. Hence, this fear is based on respect and acknowledgement of power, and in a sense, the presence of fear makes the people acknowledge that they are subject to the leadership of their ruler and that they entrust the ruler that the city or the community is in good hands where good life, protection, security and safety are ensured.

The advantage of a feared leader, therefore, is that things get implemented more and easily because there is a recognized hierarchy of power and rule. Part Two 1. Two of the most notable philosophers who have been strongly influential in Western philosophy can be found to agree and disagree on the similar context: the ruler of the city. Plato and Aristotle both conveyed their thoughts on the effective politics and leadership of the city in which both agreed the critical role of wisdom that the leader must possess.

However, the similarity ends there; Plato and Aristotle both had differences in terms of who would posses such important characteristic. Plato is known for his dialogues in the Republic whereas Aristotle’s Politics present a more different view. Basically, in true Platonic fashion and representative of the principles of Plato’s definition of the Republic, Plato considers only a select few as those who would possess the wisdom to rightfully head a state.

Aristotle, on one hand, had a different view; is approach to governance can be observed to be based on a perceived social contract between the state and the people in which there is a greater amount of participation from the latter in determining as to who would be the rightful leader. In a sense, Plato’s definition of leadership is limited to the philosopher-kings who are believed to be armed with the right characteristics and the capacity to head the state whereas Aristotle demonstrated the ideals of an Athenian democracy (Barker, 1959).

In order to understand as to why Plato endorsed that the wisdom required of good leaders can be only found among the few can be based on his belied that a society can be defined according to class where each class has their respective functions. Plato proposed that the society has a working structure in which this structure is made up of different components in order to function. These different components are identified according to their specialization; hence, at this point, Plato also discussed the division of labor.

Because of the presence of these “classes”, Plato therefore identified those that were fit to lead; he defined a structure according to those who are supposed to produce or the workers; those who are to protect the state, or the Guardians; and those who are to govern, the kings. Although kings as leaders are already established as a given, Plato continues on Socrates’ initial claim to the possibility of an ideal state. Such perfection, although challenging to be attained, can be possibly achieved as close as it could get provided that the state is governed by a philosopher.

Plato’s discussion on the importance of the strong philosophical aspect of the king is based on the importance of this leader to be a lover of wisdom. This is to say that at that time, what would also distinguish people was based on whether they were persons of thought or persons of action. According to Plato, in the aspect of governance, reason would remain supreme, and that such supremacy translates to the divine nature of man.

Hence, since leaders can be only few, only few are also born with such innate capacity to become a philosopher and king (Plato, 1945). In contrast, Aristotle’s Politics (1997) presented a view which represents the concept of Athenian democracy. This time, the egalitarian conception of politics can be observed to be based on his discussions on the need for legislators but then, in order to do this, Aristotle mentioned that virtue needed at social-levels in order to produce the best leaders of the state: the virtue of education.

Since Aristotle promoted a sense of governance in which people get the chance to lead the state according to the learned and acquired abilities and not according to the innate aspect which Plato advocated, Aristotle therefore referred to the political partnership between people and state. This partnership reflects that unlike in Plato’s Republic, Aristotle considered the state as a community, and communities are venues in which people aim to live a good life.

Although Aristotle’s view on the state in terms of the components that make it up is similar to Plato’s — in which these components co-exist and are dependent on each other — the difference is that Aristotle’s components represent parallelisms of leadership, from the management of the household to the leadership of the royals. This initially establishes the equality and likeness of the citizens, in which case, should skills and collective will be followed, citizens can take their turns in ruling the city.

Aristotle saw this as a form of public service that also echoes what a city is, and that is a “city is a community of the free” (p. 88). From these, it can be gathered that Aristotle’s rejection of the Platonic doctrine is based on his difference in view as to what a city is and how a city functions; for Plato, there is an emphasis on leadership among a system of hierarchy whereas for Aristotle, the equality is based on the notion that cities function like communities directed at giving more opportunities for better life as much as possible.

As the society’s goals of these two seem different, so do the characteristics of their ideal leaders. Plato’s society demonstrates a more hierarchical model where citizens are not equal; the wisdom of the leaders, therefore, are only possessed by a few. For Aristotle, on one hand, wisdom is a free-for-all; it is something that can be learned, and those from the lower rungs of the society have the potential to become leaders. Hence, Aristotle does put value in the accessibility of education as a means to contribute better to the city/community. 2.

According to Aristotle, “In the case of the citizen, one must consider whether the virtue of man and citizen is the same or not. The citizen is like the sailor in being concerned with a common work, that of preserving the regime (as the sailor’s is to preserve the ship); his virtue is therefore relative to the regime” (1997, 81). Based on this, Aristotle defines the citizen according to his or her role in the regime or the government, be this a minor or a major role. The virtue of the citizen, as distinguished from the virtue of man, is that it adapts to the regime.

This is to say that citizenship may take many forms as regimes change. Aristotle explained that because this is the case, the virtue of a citizen can be many and this is not restrictive. Citizenship, therefore, is a translation of the relationship between man and community in which a community is defined according to the prevailing governance. On one hand, the virtue of a man is absolute and single; this is to say that a person may perform a certain citizenship being a citizen of a particular regime, but his virtue as man is distinct and remains his own.

Hence, this shows that the virtue of a man demonstrates the diversity of a city. However, this brings up the question as to which makes up the city: is it citizen or man? Although an individual person is both citizen and man, in the context of a city, the virtue of the citizen is more defined and manifested according to the forces of the collective whereas the virtue of the man remains individualist. Citizenship is political and the virtue of a man is based on moral.

This can then be compared to Machiavelli’s argument that the man of virtue cannot afford to be completely good whether this individual refers to the prince of a republican. Machiavelli mentioned that between being loved and being feared, it is safer for princes to be feared; this demonstrates that being able to rouse and establish fear is a means to also convey that one is not fully good. What a person cannot afford, as can be gathered, is lose a sense of respect from the people which can be founded on fear.

There is therefore a greater political aspect in this proposition which is why being completely good may not be good politically, especially for those who pursuit political excellence. Based on the factors, moral factors may only function at to some extent; this is to say that moral goodness, the general socio-politically landscape, may not bring about the common perceived outcomes such as a morally good person automatically translates to a good leader.

In a sense, there is a greater factor more than the aspect of moral goodness that is expected from leaders, especially in the context of a collective. Going back to Aristole’s discussion and Machiavelli’s proposition, it is evident that it seems that in order for a person to function or maximize his or her function, it is important that either of the moral an political aspects prevail. This is evident in what Aristotle mentioned in terms of the difference between a man and a citizen, all of which can be contained in a single person.

However, what makes them distinct is the context; citizenship may not demonstrate a sense of moral goodness especially if the regime followed by the citizen is not morally good in the first place. The problem in this view is that there is still the relationship between man and citizen in one person; the person who chooses to comply with a morally wrong regime already contests the morally good context of his person.

This is why Aristotle mentioned that what is good for the citizenship as seen in the virtues of a good citizen, cannot be present in a good man because more likely than not, a good citizen is more leaned towards satisfying the political rather than the moral intent. This now brings to Machiavelli’s discussion in which a prince or any person cannot “afford” to be completely good; this is not only for political reasons but also, this points out that people are not perfect.

A person may aim for perfection by means of emphasizing the moral goodness, but this person may not be able to survive the realities of the city. This is why in another passage by Machiavelli, the philosopher proposed that between being loved and being feared, it is better that leaders follow the latter because in the context of leadership and the reality of the state with its issues, challenges and enemies, these factors do not get solved by moral goodness.

Hence, not all leaders and even individuals may the morally right choice for the purpose of survival or even for the purpose of meeting certain agenda. Hence, in comparing the views of Aristotle and Machiavelli, the points of comparison can be seen on the basis of how a man of virtue is not and cannot be virtuous in all aspects. Aristotle argued that a good man and a good citizen cannot be one and the same, and Machiavelli mentioned that a virtuous individual cannot be absolutely good.

This shows that there are always the areas of compromise especially as both the moral and the political factors are tried to be married. On one hand, in contrast, Aristotle referred to the duality of a person whereas Machiavelli identified an ultimate point of goodness which is far from what is completely good. From this, the imperfections were identified by the two differently: Aristotle’s identification of a dual function in one person which a person chooses, and Machiavelli’s limitations on perfection in the context of a single persona.

References Aristotle. (1997). The Politics of Aristotle (P Phillips Simpson, trans. ) Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Barker, E. (1959). The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle. New York: Dover. Machiavelli, N. (1998). The Prince. (P. Bondanella & M. Musa, trans. ) Oxford: Oxford University. Plato. (1945). The Republic of Plato. (F. M. Cornford, trans. ) London: Oxford University Press. Saint Augustine (1950). The City of God. (M. D. D. Dods, trans. ). New York: Modern Library.

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