In the Politics, Aristotle states that it is clear “that the state is both natural and prior to the individual” (Politics I.1, 1253a18). In saying this, Aristotle means that if an individual were to be separated from the state, he no longer has the function and capacity which defined him before. He reasons that the individual would not be self-sufficient away from the state. Aristotle gives the analogy of a hand being severed from a man’s body. The unattached hand would still be referred to as a hand by name, but it would not serve the same function as a hand attached to a body does. It is in order of metaphysical analysis that makes political communities prior to individuals.
Certain things are not part of the state because they are either incapable (he gives the example of a dumb animal) or because they have no need for the state (he gives the example of a god). However, man needs the state in order to be sufficient.
A life of community is foundational and essential to human existence. To Aristotle, happiness is the end that man want to attain; and the only way to attain that life is by living virtuously in the presence of others. Human beings’ growth and development tend toward the end point of living within a political community.
Aristotle states that man is born with practical wisdom and virtue at his disposal. In order to utilize his wisdom and virtue most effectively, he would use them according to the law and justice. Justice is a feature of the state. Therefore, organizing a political community with the virtue of justice for people to participate in is the best way according to Aristotle.
Aristotle argues that certain people lack the rationality to rule themselves. Women and slaves are permanently subordinated, and they need to be ruled by others. “The slave is wholly lacking the deliberative element; the female has it but lacks authority; the child has it but it is incomplete” (Politics I.1, 1260a11). Aristotle argues that slaves and...
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