POL 311 (HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT)
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF PLATO AND ARISTOTLES POLITICAL THOUGHT
OKWOR, STEPHEN USHIE
DEPT OF EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATIONS (POLITICAL SCIENCE UNIT)
FACULTY OF EDUCATION
DEPT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
FACULTY OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF UYO, UYO
AKWA IBOM STATE
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF PLATO AND ARISTOTLES POLITICAL THOUGHT In order to compare these great philosophers, it is important that we first of all view their history from an individual perspective.
PLATO (427 – 347BC)
Greek philosopher, born into an aristocratic Athenian family in the year 427BC, he was expected to take up a political career but circumstances and inclination persuaded him to turn to philosophy instead. He joined the Socratic circle at the age of 20 and remained in Athens until the tragic death of his master Socrates in the hands of Athenian democracy. He remained profoundly critical of democratic institutions all his life. He did however; make one foray into the world of “real politics,” when in the middle age he attempted – entirely unsuccessfully – to put some of his political theories into practice in the Greek city state of Syracuse.
Although some of his earlier dialogues raised key political issues (e.g. The Apology, Crito and particularly Gorgias,) it is The Republic that is usually considered to be Plato’s first big contribution to political theory. He died in 347BC. ARISTOTLE (384 – 322BC)
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher. He was born into a wealthy family in northern Greece, where his father was a physician to the king of Macedon. In 367 he moved to Athens and associated himself with Plato’s academy, where he studied until Plato’s death in 347BC. After several years travelling and researching in the eastern Aegean, he was invited by Philip of Macedon to be tutor to the young Alexander the great. In 335BC, he returned to Athens and established his own school of philosophy called The Lycaeum where he worked until strong anti-Macedonian feeling prompted him to retire to Euboea. He died the following year 322BC. Aristotle, together with a team of his students, researched the political structure and history of 158 constitutions. Some of the results of these researches, however, can be found in his most famous political work, “The Politics.” BASIS OF COMPARISM
For the purpose of this academic work, these two philosophers will be compared on the basis of their views on:
1. The state
PLATO AND ARISTOTLE: THEIR THOUGHTS ON THE STATE.
Plato’s theory of the state is found in “The Republic”. He viewed the state as the totality of the people it is composed of. He categorized people in the ideal state into 3 classes on the basis of 3 elements, which are: 1. Reason = which he assigned the guardian class or philosopher kings 2. Spirit = which he assigned the auxiliary guardians or soldiers 3. Apartheid = he assigned the commoners.
The first class (Philosopher Kings) was composed of able bodied men and women who were to bring about his quest for rule of knowledge rather than rule of law. To this class he assigned reason or intelligence. He believed that only philosophers who were kings and kings who were philosophers could bring about political stability.
The second class was the Auxiliary Guardians, they were aristocratic members that could not qualify as philosopher kings and had to remain as soldiers. Their task was to protect the state against external aggression and internal regressions. To them he assigned the character of spirit and courage.
The third class was the Commoners; they were allocated the task of producers of food and other materials for the society. They are the working class and to them, he assigned apathy.
Aristotle’s conception of the state differs from what Plato propounded. To Aristotle, man is by...