Aristotle Says That the State Is Natural. What Does He Mean?

Topics: Political philosophy, Human, Aristotle Pages: 3 (1264 words) Published: January 7, 2007
"Human beings have an impulse to live with others rather than in isolation" .

Aristotle argued that the development of the polis was natural and similar to the development and growth of biological organisms. Sophists on the other hand, considered that men were simply in pursuit of their own pleasure even if it conflicted with other men's drive to the same goal. Thus, as the state limited man's actions it was argued that it was not natural. The first step in the natural development of communities was the household. Its main purpose was to satisfy the most basic requirements for existence and consisted of two parts: the free (the male and the female) and the slave (or alternatively the ox in poorer families). The household came together driven by two major biological differences. Firstly, the difference in sex between male and female that allowed them to reproduce and continue their following and secondly, the difference between the role of the ruler and the ruled as in the case of the master-slave. Furthermore, it was the male's function to educate to virtue everyone in the household and to rule it. However, these small households were not able to guarantee an easy life from a material point of view by themselves. Thus, the village was formed out of a collection of households to be able to give to man more than what he needed for his day-to-day life. This included more resources and possibly a small surplus. All this was made possible by the division of labour as each member in a village could focus on a specific task instead of having to assume several as would happen in the household. The final step in this chain was the polis - literally translated this means ‘city', although it is interpreted as ‘state' in most cases nowadays. This community had the advantage of being large enough to be self sufficient, this having been the impetus to its creation, and small enough to be governed efficiently. The city also permitted a richer and more complex life and this...

Bibliography: Aristotle. Politics. trans. Benjamin Jowett (accessed October/November 2006)
Kraut, Richard. Aristotle: Political Philosophy. [240-276] Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Mulgan, Richard G. Aristotle 's Political Theory. [3-37] Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Simpson, Peter. A Philosophical Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle. [14-71] Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
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