Aristotle’s Politics - The Good Man Should Not Rule the City Essay

Aristotle’s Politics - The Good Man Should Not Rule the City Essay

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Aristotle’s Politics - The Good Man Should Not Rule the City


Aristotle contends that the good man is dissimilar to the good citizen in ways he goes a great length to illustrate. He distinguishes the two for the purpose of facilitating his later arguments concerning the appropriate allocation of sovereignty to the rightful ruler, who he subsequently claims is the good man who excels all others in each and every aspect. Aristotle's distinction further prompts the notion that he advocates a monarchial form of constitution, for the rule of a single good man is equivalent to a constitution of kingship. This can be derived through the following reasoning. Aristotle is convinced that the good citizen can so be defined only in relation to the constitution he is an element of: 'The excellence of the citizen must be an excellence relative to the constitution (1276b16).' The good man on the other hand, 'is a man so called in virtue of a single absolute excellence (1276b16).' He further asserts that the good citizen 'must possess the knowledge and capacity requisite for ruling as well as for being ruledÖa good man will also need both (1277b7~1277b16).' From these conclusions of Aristotle, it is evident that the good man and the good citizen differ in the manner of their excellence, but not in their capacity for ruling or being ruled. It should therefore follow that there should not exist impediments to the ruling by the good citizen in the city as opposed to the ruling by the good man due to the fact that they are identical in their competence to rule. However, Aristotle in his later arguments, crowns the good man as ruler: 'in the best constitutionÖthere is someone of outstanding excellence. What is to be done in that case? Nobody wou...


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...scussed). The justification of the good man in becoming the supreme educator can be made in the following way. Since all absolutely excellent men (good men) arrive at their excellence through the process of education, that is, they are not innately excellent, their efforts should be directed toward the emulation of their excellence in the children of the city, for they are the ones who know best the process of becoming excellent. In this manner of education, the children (being future citizens) will grow up to become good men and good citizens, and thus the future city will comprise of many potential rulers. The good man through education, will contribute towards the ruling of the city indirectly in such an instance, and not directly as Aristotle claims he should do.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. Gerald F. Else. Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor Paperbacks, 1990.

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