Aristotle Essay on Citizenship

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Aristotle on citizenship (A) Writing a generation after Plato, and in contrast with his teacher, Aristotle did not like Sparta's commune-oriented approach. He felt Sparta's land allocation system as well as the communal meals led to a world in which rich and poor were polarized. He recognized differences in citizenship patterns based on age: the young were "underdeveloped" citizens, while the elderly were "superannuated" citizens. And he noted that it was hard to classify the citizenship status of some persons, such as resident aliens who still had access to courts, or citizens who had lost their citizenship franchise. Still, Aristotle's conception of citizenship was that it was a legally guaranteed role in creating and running government. It reflected the division of labor which he believed was a good thing; citizenship, in his view, was a commanding role in society with citizens ruling over non-citizens. At the same time, there could not be a permanent barrier between the rulers and the ruled, according to Aristotle's conception, and if there was such a barrier, citizenship could not exist. Aristotle's sense of citizenship depended on a "rigorous separation of public from private, of polis from oikos, of persons and actions from things" which allowed people to interact politically with equals. To be truly human, one had to be an active citizen to the community: To take no part in the running of the community's affairs is to be either a beast or a god! —Aristotle In Aristotle's view, "man is a political animal". Isolated men were not truly free, in his view. A beast was animal-like without self-control over passions and unable to coordinate with other beasts, and therefore could not be a citizen. And a god was so powerful and immortal that he or she did not need help from others. In Aristotle's conception, citizenship was possible generally in a small

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