Aristotle vs. Hobbes: Equality.

Topics: Political philosophy, Human, Aristotle Pages: 7 (2362 words) Published: February 17, 2006
Aristotle vs. Hobbes, constitutes a debate between two great thinkers from two profoundly different periods of time. Whereas Aristotle (384 - 322 BCE) had been a part of the Greek's and more precisely, Athens's Golden Age, Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) had lived through the English Civil War of 1640s to become one of the most influential philosophers. Based on their own personal experiences and surroundings, both Aristotle and Hobbes had developed a view of what human equality should sustain. However, Hobbes' understanding of natural equality is preferable, as he provides society with the extra room for equality and opportunity that the subjects of a good sovereign would experience to be available to them, in comparison to Aristotle's hierarchical division of people into natural superiors, inferiors and slaves, who are given very limited achievements and opportunities.

Aristotle's idea of equality would have applied to all citizens who participate in the political life of the city-state in which they live. By doing so, they would have acquired the human virtues and excellences, as well as achieve their natural telos as a "political animal" (Aristotle, p. 4). Only within a city-state, citizens are able to participate and enhance their political and practical reason, thus reach their human telos. As such, the city-state is "among the things that exist by nature" (Aristotle, p. 4), and living in one is the only possible natural outcome for humans. However, the term citizen in Aristotle's perspective would not have applied to everyone, but it would have been rather limited within the city-state.

The city-state had been formed as a household, a partnership between "persons who cannot exist without one another" (Aristotle, 1252a27) and had later developed into a community of households, villages, the telos of which results in a chain of villages, city-state. It had come into existence to sustain our basic needs and it had stayed in order to support a better way of life. The household is the main structure in the city-state, which in fact provides citizens with the opportunity to perfect their human virtues. Not only is the household a subordinate to the political institution, but also within itself it is entirely formed by unequal relationships - natural ruler vs. natural slave, husband vs. wife, parent vs. child, "The slave is wholly lacking the deliberative element; the female has it but it lacks authority; the child has it but it is incomplete" (1260a11). Women had not been allowed to vote during Aristotle's time and as such their natural telos would have been different from that of the men. Together with the natural slaves, they would have in different ways from one another, provided the men with the needed basic necessities to sustain life and thus have more time to achieve their telos as a "political animal" (Aristotle, p. 4). However, natural slaves would have had no rights in comparison to the women, since the idea of an enslaved person means that they are naturally lacking the rational powers and practical reason and thus ought to be enslaved in order for them to fulfil their natural telos as providing for the natural ruler and devoting their lives to menial duties (Aristotle, p. 15). Natural slaves are creatures that are naturally inferior to citizens, who would provide the citizens with enough time to enhance their lives and apply themselves towards achieving their telos - political enrichment. The man of the household, the natural ruler, is in fact the citizen, someone who "shares in administration of justice and in offices" (Aristotle, p. 66), has the leisure time to participate in the political life of the city-state.

In fact, the good life for a citizen, described with Aristotle's ideas, would have focused on developing oneself as a "political animal" (Aristotle, p. 4). Providing monetary supplies for the household by the means of using the exchange value of the products should be only to sustain the basic...
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