Aristotle


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  • noun

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one of the greatest of the ancient Athenian philosophers

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Aristotle in his Constitutions had made a study of one hundred and fifty-eight constitutions of the states of his day, and the fruits of that study are seen in the continual reference to concrete political experience, which makes the Politics in some respects a critical history of the workings of the institutions of the Greek city state.
Moreover, the idealism and the empiricism of the Politics are never really reconciled by Aristotle himself.
We are accustomed since the growth of the historical method to the belief that states are "not made but grow," and are apt to be impatient with the belief which Aristotle and Plato show in the powers of the lawgiver.
It is one of the most marked characteristics of Greek political theory that Plato and Aristotle think of the statesman as one who has knowledge of what ought to be done, and can help those who call him in to prescribe for them, rather than one who has power to control the forces of society.
With this position much that Aristotle has to say about government is in agreement.
In accordance with the same line of thought, imperfect states, although called perversions, are regarded by Aristotle as the result rather of misconception and ignorance than of perverse will.
The existence of force is for Plato and Aristotle a sign not of the state but of the state's failure.
Further, the belief that the constitution of a state is only the outward expression of the common aspirations and beliefs of its members, explains the paramount political importance which Aristotle assigns to education.
Such is in brief the attitude in which Aristotle approaches political problems, but in working out its application to men and institutions as they are, Aristotle admits certain compromises which are not really consistent with it.
Aristotle thinks of membership of a state as community in pursuit of the good.
Aristotle in his account of the ideal state seems to waver between two ideals.
If ever the class existed in unredeemed nakedness, it was in the Greek cities of the fourth century, and its existence is abundantly recognised by Aristotle.
Aristotle is content to call existing constitutions perversions of the true form.
Aristotle was again vitalized, and Plato's noble idealistic philosophy was once more appreciatively studied and understood.
The extent to which Aristotle or the Aristotelian school were indebted to him in the Politics has been little recognized, and the recognition is the more necessary because it is not made by Aristotle himself.