Aristotle’s Politics: The Significance Of Book 3, Essay

954 WordsOct 12, 20114 Pages
Aristotle believed that the purpose of all human actions and institutions was to ensure man’s happiness. In the Politics he elaborates on this view. Since one can only achieve this goal through political association, Aristotle concludes that "man is a political animal." Man unlike other animals, can reason and communicate, and is therefore happiest when living among other people in society. Much is discussed of what ‘the good life’ is to Aristotle: to achieve happiness and pursue virtue. The polis, or Greek city-state, according to Aristotle, is the highest form of political association. Only by being a citizen of a polis can a person fully pursue a life of good quality, which is the end goal of human existence. In the excerpts from Book 3, Aristotle begins by defining the state and the citizen. He then describes various forms of government, arguing that any form of government is vulnerable to corruption, which prevents the government from advancing the public good. Politics 3.5(Book 3, Chapter 5) ends Aristotle's discussion of the citizen. In this chapter, he addresses one of the last remaining questions on citizenship: Is he only truly a citizen to whom it is open to participate in offices, or are vulgar persons also to be regarded as citizens? For Aristotle, remember, politics is about developing the virtue of the citizens and making it possible for them to live a life of virtue. We have already seen that women and slaves are not capable of living this kind of life, although each of these groups has its own kind of virtue to pursue. But there is another group that is incapable of citizenship leading to virtue, and Aristotle calls this group “the vulgar”. These are the people who must work for a living. Such people lack the leisure time necessary for political participation and the study of philosophy: “it is impossible to pursue the things of virtue when one

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