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Aristotle's Ideal State: A Place of Hierarchy or One of Equality?

Powerful Essays
Introduction to Political theory

Is Aristotle’s ideal state a place of hierarchy rather than equality? Discuss.

Aristotle is a philosopher who was born in the Greek town of Stagirus in 384 BCE and is well known for being a thinker who presented his views on a range of things, ranging from philosophy to politics. One of the key areas in Politics he addressed was the ideal city and what he believed it consisted of. The ideal city could be viewed as the ‘end of associations’ and why this is, I will later explore in the text. Whilst trying to understand his perspective on the ideal city it is essential to remember he is a teleological thinker thus, he believes that everything has a function and purpose; this becomes obvious throughout his text. Although to some extent it could be argued that Aristotle’s ideal state is a place of equality, I feel that it is more of a place where hierarchy is presented. The main reason for this is because when speaking of how a state is created he claims that a state is made up of lots of villages which come together through households, which are created through associations. The reasons why I feel that these associations create hierarchy, alongside other contributions I will discuss in this essay.

In terms of his associations Aristotle goes into depth by explaining three key associations which are the slave and the master, the wife and the husband and the child and the father. When looking into the household in detail we are able to see a hierarchy present which will inevitably affect the city. Due to the fact that slavery is an acceptable notion for Aristotle whereby every house should include a slave we are able to see that the household itself is a state of hierarchy. ‘Because as far as the p...

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...s certain roles which in a sense comes ‘naturally’ to them, it is definitely one of hierarchy rather than equality. This is simply because when you look deep down, and break down the associations that when added together create the state then you will see the hierarchy present whether it’s between the master and the slave, the wife and the husband and the father and the child. Furthermore, when there is a division presented between citizens of the state and non-citizens then obviously the state cannot be equal because this barrier exists between the two which is sought to be the norm. However, it could also be said that a state of pure equality would never actually work properly therefore hierarchy would always be present. Nevertheless I feel that in an ideal state there should not be a hierarchy, and this hierarchy is clearly displayed in Aristotle’s ideal state.