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A STUDY ON REVOLUTIONARY

IDEAS OF ARISTOTLE
SUBMITTED TO:

Mr. B.K. MAHAKOOL


(Faculty member in political science)
SUBMITTED BY:

APOORVA CHANDRA
Semester: 2, Section: C, Roll No: 25, Program: B.A. LL.B
(Hons)

HIDAYATULLAH NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY


UPARWARA POST, ABHANPUR, NEW RAIPUR-493661(C.G.)

Certificate Of Declaration
I,

APOORVA CHANDRA , hereby assert that this

project is my own and hence, original.

OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE
1. Ramaswamy, sushila, A History of Political Thought-Plato to Marx, PHI laboring Private
Limited, 2010

: This book gives us a brief idea about the political thoughts of great

philosophers from the times of Plato to Marx. It describes different theories prescribed by
these philosophers.
2. Nelson, Brian.R Western Political Thought from Socrates to the age of Ideology, Pearson
Education, 1995 : Written simply and directly but without sacrificing intellectual depth
this book presents the basic terms, ideas, and dilemmas of Western political thought
through an in-depth analysis of a limited number of major thinkers from the pre-Socratics
to the contemporary era.

OBJECTIVES
To find the essence in views of Aristotle in context to:

justice, equity
constitutionalism
politics and state

RESEARCH METHEDOLOGY

This project work is descriptive & analytical in approach. It is largely based on


secondary & study of books along with discussion with seniors. Books & other
references as guided by faculty of political science have been helpful for the
completion of this project.

INTRODUCTION
Aristotle states that A specific habit differs from a specific faculty or science, as each of the
latter covers opposites, e.g. the science of health is also the science of sickness; whereas the habit
of justice does not cover but is opposed to the habit of injustice. Justice itself is a term used in
various senses; and the senses in which injustice is used vary correspondingly.

The idea of citizenship appeared to play a crucial part in Aristotles ideas


regarding the state and justice. The idea of citizens derived from the question What is a state?
Saunders (1986) further exemplifies this point in his analysis of Aristotles The Politics, in that
the citizen by Aristotles definition was dependent upon the state they lived in. Essentially,
Aristotle suggests that the role of the citizen can change depending on the states constitution,
such as a democracy or oligarchy, ect. Importantly, however, a change in the citizen body, which
creates the judicial and political elements of the state, would change the type of state they existed
in.

The citizen, Aristotle claims, has specific rights and is all equal. So, each citizen has
the same humanitarian, economic, social rights as any other citizen. He believed that birth place,
and ancestry did not play a factor in what defined a citizen, but his involvement within
politics. Parry (1972) quotes Aristotle, a man who shares in the administration of justice and
in the holding of office, as a definition for what a citizen is. This also suggests the idea that
citizens and justice were in control of each other. To further Aristotles idea to what a citizen is
would also allow us to see how obscure his ideas can be.

ARISTOTLE'S IDEAS AND PHILOSPHY

Aristotle not only studied almost every subject possible at the time, but made
significant contributions to most of them. In physical science, Aristotle studied anatomy,
astronomy, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics and zoology. In philosophy,
he wrote on aesthetics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, economics, psychology,
rhetoric and theology. He also studied education, foreign customs, literature and poetry. His
combined works constitute a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge.

With the Prior Analytics, Aristotle is credited with the earliest study of
formal logic, and his conception of it was the dominant form of Western logic until 19th century
advances in mathematical logic. Kant stated in the Critique of Pure Reason that Aristotle's theory
of logic completely accounted for the core of deductive inference.

HISTORY OF PLATO'S IDEAS


Aristotle "says that 'on the subject of reasoning' he 'had nothing else on an earlier date to speak
of'" However, Plato reports that syntax was devised before him, by Prodicus of Ceos, who was
concerned by the correct use of words. Logic seems to have emerged from dialectics; the earlier
philosophers made frequent use of concepts like reductio ad absurdum in their discussions, but
never truly understood the logical implications. Even Plato had difficulties with logic; although
he had a reasonable conception of a deductive system, he could never actually construct one,
thus he relied instead on his dialectic.
Plato believed that deduction would simply follow from premises, hence he focused on
maintaining solid premises so that the conclusion would logically follow. Consequently, Plato
realized that a method for obtaining conclusions would be most beneficial. He never succeeded
in devising such a method, but his best attempt was published in his book Sophist, where he
introduced his division method.

ARISTOTLE'S IDEAS ON JUSTICE


Injustice includes law-breaking, grasping and unfairness. Grasping is taking too much of what is
good only; unfairness is concerned with both what is good and what is injurious. But in the legal
sense, whatever law lays down is assumed to be just. Law, however, covers the whole field of
virtuous action as it affects our neighbors, so that in this general sense justice is an inclusive term
equivalent to righteousness. We, however, must confine ourselves to the specific sense of the
terms. Grasping is, in fact, included in unfairness, which is the real opposite of specific justice; it
includes law-breaking only so far as the law is broken for the sake of gain.
The justice with which we are concerned has two branches:
distributive, of honors and the like among citizens by the State, and of private property by
contract and agreement; and corrective, the remedying of unfair distribution. There are always
two parties, and justice is the mean between the unfairness which favors A and the unfairness
which favors B.
Distributive justice takes into consideration the merits of the parties;
corrective justice is concerned only with restoring a balance which has been disturbed. The
distribution is a question not of equality, but of right proportion; and this applies to retribution,
which is recognized as one of its aspects, e.g. the retribution for an officer striking a private and
for a private striking an officer. Proportional requital is the economic basis of society, arrived at
by the existence of a comparatively unfluctuating currency which provides a criterion.
In the State, as such, justice is obtained from the law and its
administrators; justice is the virtue of the magistrate. Since he has nothing to gain or lose
himself, it has been supposed that justice is 'another's good,' not our own. In the family, justice
does not come in, the whole household being, in a sense, parts of the palter families; and as you
cannot be unjust to yourself, you cannot be unjust to your household. In the State, what is just is
fixed partly by the nature of things, partly by law or convention.
What we must call equity may be opposed to justice but only in the
legal sense of that term. It is justice freed from the errors incidental to the particular case, for
which the law cannot provide. Injustice, again, is found in self-injury or suicide; which the law
penalizes, not because the individual thereby treats himself unjustly, but because he does an
injustice to the community. It is only by metaphor that a man may be called unjust to himself, an
expression which means that the relation between one part of him and another part of him is
analogous to the unjust relation between persons.

ARISTOTLE'S IDEAS ON STATE AND


CITIZENSHIP
Aristotles ideas regarding justice, citizenship and the state can often appear to be in depth to a
point where its difficult to discern what Aristotle is trying to say. Examples of this can be seen
throughout much of his works in ethics and philosophies, whereby he links the connection of
justice, citizenship and the state in an almost scientific calculation, making each a dynamic factor
that is subject to change should another change.
The idea of citizenship appeared to play a crucial part in Aristotles
ideas regarding the state and justice. The idea of citizens derived from the question What is a
state? Saunders (1986) further exemplifies this point in his analysis of Aristotles The Politics,
in that the citizen by Aristotles definition was dependent upon the state they lived in. Essentially,
Aristotle suggests that the role of the citizen can change depending on the states constitution,
such as a democracy or oligarchy, ect. Importantly, however, a change in the citizen body, which
creates the judicial and political elements of the state, would change the type of state they existed
in. This shows Aristotles over analytical workings regarding the philosophies of the state and the
citizen.
Aristotle considers the state as the highest form community, and
adds elements of morality, in that a state exists as community is self sufficient and preserves a
good life. Lloyd (1982) offers a simpler explanation to Saunders analysis of Aristotles The
Politics. He defines that the state exists within the constitution and is not dependent upon the
physical or social factors that lie within the state, such as the people and the land it resides on. It
is clear that Aristotles ideas regarding the relationship between the citizen and the state are very
close and highly empirical. The state is exists within the constitution, which offers the judicial
elements that is imposed on its citizens. In turn, the citizens held the political power to alter the
constitution, through deliberation or discussion and/or through revolutionary means. This change
in constitution would therefore alter the definition of the state.

The citizen, Aristotle claims, has specific rights and is all equal.
So, each citizen has the same humanitarian, economic, social rights as any other citizen. He
believed that birth place, and ancestry did not play a factor in what defined a citizen, but his
involvement within politics. Parry (1972) quotes Aristotle, a man who shares in the
administration of justice and in the holding of office, as a definition for what a citizen is. This
also suggests the idea that citizens and justice were in control of each other. To further

Aristotles idea to what a citizen is would also allow us to see how


obscure his ideas can be. For example, women were not considered to be citizens, in his view, for
they lacked the fundamental reasoning required for politics. Also, artisans and those who made a
living were not considered to be included in what defined a citizen. This shows the degree of
definition Aristotle was willing to achieve, essentially alienated a vast majority of the population
of the city states. In actuality, one can conclude that Aristotles idyllic scenario of what a citizen
was, were the aristocrats of society, the educated and wealthy elite who didnt need to work. To
further expand this scenario, if the elites were the citizen body, who was then part of the judicial
and political system within a democracy, such as in Athens, an oligarchy could essentially be
created. Aristotle also argues that it is in the polis, or city state, that one can be ruled and be
ruled, thus suggested a social system of hierarchy. He does not explicitly link this to citizenship,
however.

Aristotles empirical nature appears to be fundamental part within his


ideas regarding justice, citizenship and the state Closely connected was his belief that politics
should relate to the behavior of nature. As an academic of a variety of studies, such as biology,
Aristotle has clearly involved other areas of study within his theories regarding the philosophies
of politics. His idyllic scenario was related to the life of an acorn, in that, the acorn represented
the citizen. Under the right conditions (the environment of the polis), the acorn could grow.
However, if the state was not correctly functioning, essentially the constitution it holds, the
acorns would not grow, suggesting that the citizens would be fully functioning political units that
Aristotle argues is a requirement for a successful city state.
General Justice and Special or Particular Justice (subdivides into
Regulatory Justice and Distributive Justice). Specifically, Aristotle shows a greater interest in
Distributive Justice, the justice that decides the balance of gains and losses in society. Be it
monetary or honour, Aristotle argues that the injustices regarding the distribution of gains and
losses cause the downfall of constitutions regarding oligarchy and democracy. This is also
present in the Nicomachean Ethics, where Ackrill (1999) indirectly argues the importance of
justice through morals according to Aristotle. Morals, of course, play a fundamental part in

Aristotles ideas regarding the role of justice within constitutions.


Aristotle points out a huge criticism in how a city state can operate, either through democracy
and through oligarchy, which exists throughout time and is clearly visible by todays standards,
such a proportional representation when it comes to democratic elections, and the French

revolution, deposing of an aristocratic system and closing the class gap between the lower and
upper classes.
To conclude, we have seen that Aristotles ideas have been greatly
influenced by his studies of nature and science, and saw an opportunity to connect justice,
citizenship and the state to an empirical system where it could be easily analysed and assessed.
We see such measures with the careful breakdown of different constitutions that operate states,
the roles of the citizens within those states and the types of justices used to enforce the
constitution, and its people.
Justice is considered to be a fundamental issue that outlines two of his
significant works, the Nicomachean Ethics and The Politics. As the title of the latter suggests,
justice and politics are connected strongly, as justice proves to be an underlying theme
throughout the book. Aristotle does not just outline the ideas of justice as a judicial entity, the
force that punishes wrong doers, but as a degree of virtue, or morality that is considered to be
phenomena in politics. He argues strongly that without a sense of morality, and virtue, any type
of constitution is destined to fail.
Throughout Aristotles ideas regarding the state, justice and citizenship, he maintains the idea
that there is a strong link between all three. As one change, so does the other and each is
dependant on the other. This proves to replay throughout history as the role of the citizen changes
if the states constitution changes.

Aristotle's Views on Politics


Political science studies the tasks of the politician or statesman in much the way that medical
science concerns the work of the physician . It is, in fact, the body of knowledge that such
practitioners, if truly expert, will also wield in pursuing their tasks. The most important task for
the politician is, in the role of lawgiver , to frame the appropriate constitution for the city-state.
This involves enduring laws, customs, and institutions (including a system of moral education)
for the citizens. Once the constitution is in place, the politician needs to take the appropriate
measures to maintain it, to introduce reforms when he finds them necessary, and to prevent
developments which might subvert the political system. This is the province of legislative
science, which Aristotle regards as more important than politics as exercised in everyday
political activity such as the passing of decrees.
In order to appreciate this analogy it is helpful to observe that Aristotle explains the production
of an artifact in terms of four causes: the material, formal, efficient, and final causes For
example, clay (material cause) is molded into a vase shape (formal cause) by a potter (efficient or

moving cause) so that it can contain liquid (final cause). One can also explain the existence of
the city-state in terms of the four causes.
The formal cause of the city-state is its constitution. Aristotle
defines the constitution as a certain ordering of the inhabitants of the city-state .He also speaks
of the constitution of a community as the form of the compound and argues that whether the
community is the same over time depends on whether it has the same constitution. The
constitution is not a written document, but an immanent organizing principle, analogous to the
soul of an organism. Hence, the constitution is also the way of life of the citizens. Here the
citizens are that minority of the resident population who possess full political rights
The existence of the city-state also requires an efficient cause,
namely, its ruler. On Aristotle's view, a community of any sort can possess order only if it has a
ruling element or authority. This ruling principle is defined by the constitution, which sets
criteria for political offices, particularly the sovereign office. However, on a deeper level, there
must be an efficient cause to explain why a city-state acquires its constitution in the first place.
Aristotle states that the person who first established [the city-state] is the cause of very great
benefits
To sum up, the city-state is a hylomorphic (i.e., matter-form)
compound of a particular population (i.e., citizen-body) in a given territory (material cause) and
a constitution (formal cause). The constitution itself is fashioned by the lawgiver and is governed
by politicians, who are like craftsmen (efficient cause), and the constitution defines the aim of
the city-state .For a further discussion of this topic, see the following supplementary document:

General Theory of Constitutions and Citizenship


Aristotle states that the politician and lawgiver is wholly occupied with the city-state, and the
constitution is a certain way of organizing those who inhabit the city-state (III.1.1274b36-8).
His general theory of constitutions is set forth in Politics III. He begins with a definition of the
citizen (polits), since the city-state is by nature a collective entity, a multitude of citizens.
Citizens are distinguished from other inhabitants, such as resident aliens and slaves; and even
children and seniors are not unqualified citizens (nor are most ordinary workers). After further
analysis he defines the citizen as a person who has the right (exousia) to participate in
deliberative or judicial office (1275b1821
Aristotle defines the constitution (politeia) as a way of organizing the
offices of the city-state, particularly the sovereign office (III.6.1278b810; cf. IV.1.1289a1518).

The constitution thus defines the governing body, which takes different forms: for example, in a
democracy it is the people, and in an oligarchy it is a select few (the wealthy or well born).
Before attempting to distinguish and evaluate various constitutions Aristotle considers two
questions. First, why does a city-state come into being? He recalls the thesis, defended
in Politics I.2, that human beings are by nature political animals, who naturally want to live
together. For a further discussion of this topic, see the following supplementary document:
Secondly, in the particular sense justice means equality or
fairness, and this includes distributive justice, according to which different individuals have
just claims to shares of some common asset such as property. Aristotle analyzes arguments for
and against the different constitutions as different applications of the principle of distributive
justice (III.9.1280a722). Everyone agrees, he says, that justice involves treating equal persons
equally, and treating unequal persons unequally, but they do not agree on the standard by which
individuals are deemed to be equally (or unequally) meritorious or deserving. He assumes his
own analysis of distributive justice set forth in Nicomachean Ethics V.3: Justice requires that
benefits be distributed to individuals in proportion to their merit or desert. The oligarchs
mistakenly think that those who are superior in wealth should also have superior political rights,
whereas the democrats hold that those who are equal in free birth should also have equal political
rights. Both of these conceptions of political justice are mistaken in Aristotle's view, because they
assume a false conception of the ultimate end of the city-state. The city-state is neither a business
enterprise to maximize wealth (as the oligarchs suppose) nor an association to promote liberty
and equality (as the democrats maintain). Instead, Aristotle argues, the good life is the end of
the city-state, that is, a life consisting of noble actions (1280b391281a4). Hence, the correct
conception of justice is aristocratic, assigning political rights to those who make a full
contribution to the political community, that is, to those with virtue as well as property and
freedom (1281a48). This is what Aristotle understands by an aristocratic constitution:
literally, the rule of the aristoi, i.e., best persons. Aristotle explores the implications of this
argument in the remainder of Politics III, considering the rival claims of the rule of law and the
rule of a supremely virtuous individual. Here absolute kingship is a limiting case of aristocracy.
Again, in books VII-VIII, Aristotle describes the ideal constitution in which the citizens are fully
virtuous.

CRITISISM
Aristotle shared many of Platos basic assumptions. He believed with Plato in the primacy of
reason, and that there is an intrinsic connection between politics and ethics. Both accepted the
role of society in improving individuals through education. Plato and Aristotle agreed that
humans can fulfill their nature only in a social context, but they had very different ideas about
the best constitution for state and government. Aristotle criticized Platos political views mostly
on empirical and practical grounds. He rejected Platos ideas for revolutionary change by
observing that they are impracticable, and they cannot easily be reconciled with human nature as
we know it. Aristotle attempted to correct Platos idealistic views by teaching adherence to the
golden mean; a term borrowed from geometry that can be interpreted as a middle way in the
recommendation of political arrangements.

CONCLUSION

According to Aristotle, observation shows that nature dictates a union of naturally ruling
and ruled elements, for the preservation of both. The naturally ruled element should obey the
ruling element. That hierarchy is evident throughout nature and it applies to political
organization as well as family.

The human soul has two elements, one that rules and one that is ruled. Nature dictates
that order in the soul to allow for right behavior to follow.

Women must not be allowed to rule, since they lack rational capacity. In men, the rational
element naturally rules, while in women it is present but usually ineffective. Womens natural
role is to serve the family as good wives and mothers but to stay out of the public sphere.

Aristotle rejects those reforms as impracticable. The institutions of the family and private
property are rooted in nature.

Observation shows that men pay most attention to what is their own and neglect what is
not their own. The sense of possession is natural and brings duty and obligation.

Aristotle sees the family as a natural institution that promotes civic virtue as well as
mutual care among loved ones. Parents feelings of special attachment to their children are
natural.

Aristotle also sees private property as a natural institution.

The impulse to own and cherish objects is natural, and efforts to eradicate private
property are wrong and futile.

The project to abolish private property is characteristic of Platos extremism.

Aristotle suggests that property should be possessed in moderation and should be put to
public use whenever possible. Charity is possible only under a regime of private property.

Aristotle believes that it is dangerous to concentrate power in the hands of an elite; that
concentration will breed discontent and dissension.

The best practical constitution for most states is rule by the middle class.

The middle class embodies moderation because it constitutes the mean between rich and
poor. Because it possesses a stake in the property systemBecause it practices moderation and
avoids extremes, the middle class is more likely than either the rich or the poor to be guided
by reason.

Those qualified for rule must therefore be male, own property, and be literate (or at least
have modest education). The middle-class rule will then confer stability and rational control.

Bibliography

Note on Citations
. Passages in Aristotle are cited as follows: title of treatise (italics), book (Roman numeral),
chapter (Arabic numeral), line reference. Line references are keyed to the 1831 edition of
Immanuel Bekker which had two columns (a and b) on each page. Politics is abbreviated
asPol. and Nicomachean Ethics as NE. In this article, Pol. I.2.1252b27, for example, refers
toPolitics book I, chapter 2, page 1252, column b, line 27. Most translations include the Bekker
page number with column letter in the margin followed by every fifth line number.
Passages in Plato are cited in a similar fashion, except the line references are to the Stephanus
edition of 1578 in which pages were divided into five parts (a through e).
A. Greek Text of Aristotle's Politics

Dreizehnter, Alois. Aristoteles' Politik. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1970.

Ross, W. D. Aristotelis Politica. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957.

B. English Translations of Aristotle's Politics

Barker, Ernest, revised by Richard Stalley. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Jowett, Benjamin, in The Complete Works of Aristotle, The Revised Oxford Translation,
vol. 2, ed. Jonathan Barnes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Lord, Carnes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Reeve, C. D. C. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1998.

Simpson, Peter L. P. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Sinclair, T. A., revised by Trevor J. Saunders. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983.


The Clarendon Aristotle Series (Oxford University Press) includes translation and commentary
of the Politics in four volumes:

Trevor J. Saunders, Politics I-II (1995).

Richard Robinson with a supplementary essay by David Keyt, Politics III-IV (1995).

David Keyt, Politics V-VI (1999).

Richard Kraut, Politics VII-VIII (1997).