Aristotle's Political Philosophy | Western Political Thought

Aristotle's Philosophy

Aristotle's Political Philosophy | Western Political Thought

Basic Biography

Aristotle was born in Macedonia in 384 BC. His father was a physician, with whom he got his early education and basic training. Later on, he was sent to Athens for higher education. 

Student of Plato

In Athens, he became a student of the Academy (Plato’s Education Institution). He became a student of Plato. He remained Plato’s student until his death. But he was the greatest and ungrateful student of Plato.

Studying Different Constitutions

After the death of Plato, Aristotle felt liberty and started travelling. The purpose of travelling was to observe and study different political systems

Teacher of Alexander the Great

He also went to Macedonia where he became the teacher of Alexander the Great. At that time Alexander was a kid.

Established his own Academy (Lycenm)

Later on, Aristotle returned to Athens where he established his own institution which is called Lyceum. In Lyceum, Aristotle spent most of his time in writing, reading and teaching. 

Aristotle's Most Important Work

The most important work of Aristotle is called “Polis” which is translated as the politics and the state

Death of Aristotle

Aristotle fell ill in Athens. After the severance of his illness, he came back to Macedonia. He died in Macedonia in 322 BC. 

Aristotle’s Theory of State


The father of Aristotle was a physician. The subject of study of physicians is the human body. As Aristotle grew up with his father. So the methodology of the doctor is scientific. As we know observation is the first step of scientific knowledge. The same is the case with Aristotle, he was trained to observe first before solving any problem. 

Later on, Aristotle went to Plato’s Academy and he was studying state. Plato was studying imagining an ideal state. For Aristotle, it did not make any sense to solve a problem without any observation. In other words, he gave the theory of state using scientific methods. 

Aristotle's theory of state is a scientific theory inspired by the methodology adopted by his father. So the main difference between the theory of Plato and Aristotle is the method. 

Theory of State

Human Nature

Man is Rational and Social

Aristotle begins his theory of the state by explaining human nature. According to Aristotle man is rational. Among that rationality was that man is social by nature. They cannot live in isolation. They can achieve the best of their interests if they become part of society. And the best community for man is the state. 

Organic Concept

According to Aristotle state is a magnified individual. In other words, he is trying to create an analogy between the individual and the state. It means that human and state behaviour is comparable. Individuals combine and make the state. 


According to Aristotle, slavery is the most important part of the state. Aristotle believed that slaves were of two types: slaves by law and slaves by nature. Slaves by law are prisoners of war. 

Secondly, the slaves by nature are those people who have strong bodies but weak intellects. According to Aristotle, those who have weak intellects are not the citizens. But because of their strong bodies, they can be slaves. So they will work for the citizens. 

Benefits for slaves by nature

Additionally, Aristotle says that the slaves by nature are beneficial not only for the state but for the slaves themselves. Because they have the opportunity to learn from their masters. As a result,  if they improve their knowledge they can be freed. 

Benefits for the state

The benefit to the state shall be the slaves when they do the physical labour then the citizens will have spare time to do something good for their state. 

Concept of Distributive Justice 

According to Aristotle, justice prevails if everybody serves the state. Rewards, privileges, and benefits must be given by the people's contribution to the state. 

The state is a means, not the end

According to Aristotle, the ultimate goal of the state is to develop intellectual citizens. It means that the end of the state is to develop the people with wisdom and understanding of the importance of the state. In other words, the state needs to work for the growth of its people. Therefore, the end of the state is the moral development of the people 

Aristotle’s Classification of State 

Aristotle has studied and observed more than 150 states and their constitutions. He analysed all the states and their constitutions and finally, he classified them according to the ruler’s objectives and the number of rulers in a state. He divided a state into six categories which are mentioned in the following table:

No. Rulers

General Interest

Self Interest











According to Aristotle, he observed states in which one person was the ruler and he was serving the people for the general interest. He called the state Monarchy in which one person served the people for the general interest. 


Similarly, Aristotle also said that he observed some states in which a ruler was serving his personal interest. Aristotle called the state Tyranny. 


Aristotle stated that he observed few states in which there were few rulers, who were working for the public interests, he called it an Aristocracy. 


On the other hand, Aristotle also observed states in which few rulers were working for their interest of themselves, he called it Oligarchy.


Aristotle also observed states in which many people were the rulers, who were working for the general interests he called it Polity.


Besides that, Aristotle also saw those states in which the majority of the rulers were serving their own interests he called it Democracy.


According to Aristotle, Monarchy is the best and ideal state but it is the least practicable. It is because at any time Monarchy can turn into Tyranny. So he feared that the best could change into the worst. Therefore, the best state is Polity. In other words, Polity can be the least desirable but most practicable and workable.

According to Aristotle, none of the six forms remains permanent. There is always a probability that one form of state will turn into another form. And the transition of the state from one form to another, which Aristotle called Revolution. Therefore, no form of state is an ideal state. 

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post