The First Political Scientists – Aristotle

Paper by Matthew Jacob

Paper by Matthew Jacob

Aristotle along with Socrates and Plato are the fathers of Western Philosophy. But, besides Philosophy Aristotle significantly contributed to the field of Political Science. A Macedonian, Aristotle studied Philosophy under Plato at the Platonic Academy in Athens. After leaving the academy Aristotle traveled Asia Minor teaching and studying and then became the teacher and mentor of the future King of Macedonia Alexander the Great. As head of the Royal Academy of Macedonia Aristotle taught Alexander and two of Alexander’s future generals and future kings of different part of the word, Ptolemy and Cassander.

Aristotle was one of the great motivators of Alexander’s drive to conquer Persia, and quite possible one of the main reasons for Alexander’s relentless will to keep moving east on his campaigns. Later. Aristotle moved back to Athens and opened his own school, which became known as the Lyceum. Like Plato, Aristotle was a great polymath and wrote treatises and papers on a variety of subjects. It was during his time teaching in Athens that Aristotle wrote many of his most famous treatises. At the end of his life Aristotle fled from Athens to avoid being harmed as Socrates had been years before. Aristotle died naturally in Euboea.

Aristotle’s great contribution to the field of political science comes in the form of his work Politics. In Politics Aristotle champions the role of the good of humanity as the greatest asset in the creation of a good government or ideal. Like Plato, Aristotle believed that virtue was what caused a city to be good, and that if all men strived to find the good inherent in themselves people would live well. As Aristotle said “the city exists not only for the sake of living but rather primarily for the sake of living well.” Therefore Aristotle believed that there was an ultimate end goal of life and that end goal was personal excellence. This excellence meant excellence in your position however, so if you were farmer you were meant to be an excellent farmer, and if you were a slave you were meant to be an excellent slave. All things were meant to benefit the common good.

Throughout history many political theorists, such as Hobbes, have challenged Aristotle’s view of politics. They claim that Aristotle’s view of freedom is not good because it is too broadly defined. It is therefore impossible to achieve and vulnerable to ideological wars since each person has his own definition of what it means to live well, and will want to impose that on other people.

Aristotle has influenced almost every part of our thinking in Western Culture. Along with Plato and Socrates he developed a theory of politics that has endured through modern times. And, though it can be argued that hid definitions of justice and equality are too broad and cannot effectively be used to run a state. Aristotle’s ideas that if all men live a life of virtue then the state will achieve a level of perfection. It is this belief that, even if it is unreasonable, all men should aspire to achieve.

One comment on “The First Political Scientists – Aristotle
  1. ajayi oluwaseun says:

    This type of history is helpful to now a days youth

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