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Western Political Thought: Aristotle

In the historical trend of political philosophy, Aristotle made distinct position and contributed a lot through his great ideas. Aristotle (b. 384 - d. 322 BCE), was a Greek philosopher, logician, and scientist. His cataloguing of constitutions is still used in understanding constitutions relatively. He considered political science as the master science, studied human beings in a political society suggesting that a human being can lead an eloquent life only as a member of a state. Aristotle described politics as a "practical science" because it deals with making citizens happy. His philosophy is to find the supreme purpose of life, virtue as he puts it. One of the most important roles of a politician, though, is to make laws, or constitutions. With this task it is believed that Aristotle wanted the citizen's wellbeing and livelihood to be contemplated before any laws were made permanent. After the laws are put into place the politician's job is to make sure that they are abided by. Aristotle believes that with the same constitution citizens will be the same over time, but if the constitution is ever changed so will the citizen.

Aristotle was inclined to study the nature of the politics and deeply normative in his approach to politics. He was more empirical and scientific in his technique, writing treatises instead of dialogues and often handling his materials with considerable detachment. The result in the Politics is a far-reaching and often penetrating treatment of political life, from the origins and purpose of the state to the nuances of institutional arrangements. While Aristotle's comments on slavery, women, and labourers are often uncomfortable to modern readers, his analysis of government types (including the causes of their preservation and destruction) remains of perennial interest. His discussion of "polity" a fusion of oligarchy and democracy, has been of particular significance in the history of popular government. Finally, his argument that a constitution is more than a set of political institutions, but also exemplifies a shared way of life, has showed a productive insight for succeeding thinkers such as Alexis de Tocqueville.

The most important text of Aristotle's political philosophy is the Politics. However, it is also important to read Nicomachean Ethics in order to fully recognize Aristotle's political project. Aristotle believed that ethics and politics were strongly related and that in fact the ethical and virtuous life is only available to someone who participates in politics, while moral education is the main purpose of the political community. He conferred in Nicomachean Ethics at 1099b, "The end (or goal) of politics is the best of ends, and the main concern of politics is to provoke a certain character in the citizens and to make them good and disposed to perform noble actions." Most people living today in Western societies like the United States, Canada, Germany, or Australia would disagree with both parts of that statement. We are likely to regard politics (and politicians) as aiming at immoral, selfish ends, such as wealth and power, rather than the "best end", and many people consider the idea that politics is or should be primarily concerned with creating a particular moral character in citizens as a dangerous interruption on individual freedom because we do not agree about what the "best end" is.

People in Western societies generally ask from politics and the government is that they keep each of us safe from other people (through the provision of police and military forces) so that people can choose and pursue their own ends, whatever they may be. This has been the case in Western political philosophy at least since John Locke. Development of individual character is left up to the individual, with help from family, religion, and other non-governmental institutions.

Aristotle had written about 150 philosophic treaties. His works can be categorized under three heading:

  1. Dialogues and other works of a popular character.
  2. Collection of facts and materials from scientific treatment.
  3. Systematic works.

Among his writings of a popular nature, on the polity of the Athenians is the interesting text. The works on the second group include 200 titles, most in fragments. The systematic treatises of the third, group are marked by a plainness of style. Aristotle's political theory is founded mainly in the politics although there are references of his political thought in the Nichomachean Ethics. According to Prof. William Ebenstiein, the "politics lacks the fire and poetic imagery of the Republic, but it is more systematic and analytical and after twenty three hundred years it is still an introductory text book to the entire fields of political science." In his literatures Aristotle presented much regard for popular opinions and current practices, he was essentially a realist philosopher. His works are actually on justification of existing institutions like family, state and slavery or is calculated to suggest cures for the ills of the body politics of the city states.

Theory of state: According to Aristotle, man is, by nature and necessity, a social animal. In order to determine the nature of the state, and how it varies from other communities, Aristotle analyses it into its component parts and studies it in its historical origin. He conferred that there are two basic instincts which are instrumental in bringing people together. The first of these is the reproductive instinct which leads men and women to unite and the second is that of self-preservation, which causes master and slave to come together for their mutual benefit. Out of these two relationships, the first thing to arise is the family. The family is the association established by nature for the supply of men's everyday wants. The family, then, is the first stage in the formation of the state.

In simple term, he discovers the origin of the state in the innate desire of an individual to satisfy his economic needs and racial instincts. For the realisation of this desire the male and female on the one hand and the master and slave on the other, come together, live together and form a family, i.e., a household which has its moral and social use. It is in the household that the three elements originate and develop which are essential to the building of a state, namely fellowship, political organisation and justice.

Aristotle opens the politics with two important ideas: the state is a community and that it is the highest of all communities, 'which embraces all the rest, aims at good in greater degree than any other, and at the highest good' the first thesis came naturally to a Greek of the classical period: his polis was city state with a small area and population. Aristotle was the first to define the state a community clearly as such, and thus he laid the foundation for the organic conception of the state, one of the two major types into which all political theories of the state may roughly be divided.

Aristotle stated that sate is a natural community, an organism with all the attributes of a living being. Aristotle conceives the state as natural in two ways. First, he concisely delineates the evolution of social institutions from the family through the village to the city state; in the historical sense, the state is the natural and final stage in the growth of human relations. However, the state is also considered by Aristotle to be actual in a logical and philosophical sense: "The state is by nature clearly prior to the family and the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part". Aristotle upholds that the state is not only a community but it is the highest community aiming at the highest good. The family is the first association, lowest in the chain of social development and lowest on the rung of values, because it is established by nature for the supply of men's every day wants. The village is the second type of association, genetically more complex than the family, and targeting at something more than, the supply of daily needs. The third and highest in terms of value and purpose: whereas family and village exist essentially for the preservation of life and comforts of companionship, the state exists for the sake of a good life, and not for the sake of life only, and political society exists for the sake of principled actions, and not of mere companionship. It is well established that the state is the highest form of association, not only in terms of the social and institutional value, but in terms of man's own nature.

Aristotle contended in the Politics that the drive towards community, political association and the creation of the state involve more fundamental human characteristics than the mere desire to club together for a common good. He stated that "at the beginning of this work, when we drew a distinction between household-management and master-ship, we also stated that by nature man is a political animal. Hence men have a desire for life together, even when they have no need to seek each other's help. Nevertheless, common interest too is a factor in bringing them together, in so far as it contributes to the good life of each. The good life is indeed their chief end, both communally and individually; but they form and continue to maintain a political association for the sake of life itself (Politics III: vi, 187)".

Aristotle thought that man was basically good and the function of the state was to develop his good faculties into a habit of good action. Aristotle saw a good deal of identity between the individual and the state. Like the individual, the state must show the virtues of bravery, self-control and justice. The function of the state was the advancement of good life among its citizens and, therefore, the state was the spiritual association into a moral life. Prof. William Ebenstein has stated that Aristotle's "is a conception of moral sovereignty rather than of legal sovereignty".

It is evaluated that Aristotle believed as the state is a natural society. He displayed in his literature, how man is encouraged by his very nature to form the societies of family, village, and state. Man's natural end is the good life which is to be found only in the state. Therefore, the state is a natural society.


Aristotle was one strong defenders of the institution of slavery. But it has been criticised by many theorists. Aristotle rationalised slavery, which in fact was the order of the day. He wrote in the Politics that "For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, same are marked out for subjection other for rule". Actually, Aristotle defended slavery on the basis of expediency. While conversing the origin of the state and family, Aristotle commented the institution of slavery. He found slavery is essential to a household and defends it as natural and, therefore, moral. A slave is a living ownership of his master and is an instrument of an action. A man cannot lead a good life without slaves any more than he can produce good music without instruments. Men differ from each other in their physical and intellectual fitness. Aristotle justified slavery on the grounds of natural inequality between men. Aristotle presumed that nature is universally ruled by the contrast of the superior and inferior. Man is superior to the animals, the male to the female, the soul to the body, reason to passion. In all these divisions, it is just that the superior rule over the inferior, and such a rule is to the advantage of both. Among men, there are those whose business is to use their body, and who can do nothing better' and they are by nature slaves. Slavery is not only natural, it is necessary as well. If the masters do not oppress over the slave, slavery is beneficial to both the master and the slave. Slavery is essential for the master of the household because, without slaves he has to do manual work which incapacitates him for public duties.

Aristotle was genuine enough to see that many were slaves by law rather than nature, particularly those who were reduced to slavery by conquest a custom extensively practiced in the wars of antiquity. He allowed to slaves the mental ability of apprehending the rational actions and orders of their master but refuted them the ability of acting rationally on their own initiative.

Aristotle justified the institution of slavery in following ways:

Natural: Slavery is a natural phenomenon. The superior would rule over the inferior just as the soul rules over the body and reason over appetite. In other words, people with superior reasoning powers would rule over those inferior in reasoning. The masters are stated to be physically and mentally strong than the slaves. So, this set-up naturally makes the former the master, and the latter the slave.

Necessary: Slaves are considered indispensable because they provide leisure that was most essential for the welfare of the state. Aristotle stated that slavery benefited the slaves as well. Because by being a slave, he would be able to share the virtues of the master and elevate himself.

Expediency: Aristotle had opinion that slaves have sustained the Greek social and economic system, and they assisted Greece against social disorder and chaos. He stated that slavery is a social requirement. It was balancing to the slaves as well as the masters and that it aids in precision.

Aristotle permitted slavery under certain conditions such as:

  1. Only those people who were mentally deficient and virtuously not superior should be enslaved. Aristotle never approved to the enslavement of prisoners of war because victory in the war does not ineludibly mean intellectual superiority of the victor or the mental deficiency of the overpowered. He was against the notion of slavery by power.
  2. Aristotle asserted that masters must treat their slaves properly, and strongly propagated that cruel masters must be exposed to legal punishments.
  3. He supported the liberation of only those slaves whose conduct was good and who developed capacity for reasoning and virtue.
  4. Slavery was essential for the overall development but the master has no right to misuse his power. Slaves are only supporters but not juniors.

Aristotle's justification of slavery looks very unpersuasive and strange. He did not give reliable and fixed principles for the determination of who is and who is not a natural law. Aristotle's proclamation that some women are born to rule and others born to conform would reduce the society into two parts subjectively. Thus, Aristotle's definition of slaves would reduce domestic servants and women in backward countries to the position of slaves. Karl Popper in his work "Open Society and its Enemies has disapproved Aristotliean principle of slavery and stated that "Aristotle's views were indeed reactionary as can be best seen from the fact that he repeatedly finds it necessary to defend them against the doctrine that no one is a slave by nature, and further from his own testimony to the anti-slavery tendencies of the Athenian democracy". Schlaifer (1936) contemplates about Aristotle as "an incoherent person even in the confines of a single sentence". He also believes that the presence of such flaws in the presentation of a philosopher only displays the power of ethnocentrism in inducing foolishness. He further considers that Aristotle "only has argument claiming that all barbarians are slaves by nature". Wood (1978), Mulgan (1977) and Lloyd (1968) recognise same explanatory problems.


Aristotle had a conservative standpoint for the concept of citizenship. Aristotle explained a state as a collective body of citizens. Citizenship was not to be determined by residence since the resident aliens and slaves also shared a common residence with citizens but were not citizens. He describes citizen as a person who has the power to take part in the deliberative or judicial administration of any state. Representative government was unfamiliar to Aristotle because the Greek city- state was governed directly by its citizens. A citizen also use constitutional rights under the system of public law.

For Aristotle, a citizen was one who shared power in polis, and dissimilar to the concept of Plato, he did not distinguish between "an active ruling group and a politically passive community". Aristotle specified that the young and the old could not be citizens, for one was immature and the other infirm. He did not regard women as citizens, for they lacked the deliberative faculty and the leisure to understand the working of politics. A good citizen would have the intelligence and the ability to rule and be ruled Aristotle suggested a good citizen as someone who could live in harmony with the constitution and had sufficient leisure time to devote himself to the tasks and responsibilities of citizenship. A good citizen would possess virtue or moral goodness that would help in realising a selfless and cooperative civic life. According to William Ebenstein, "Aristotle's idea of citizenship is that of the economically independent gentleman who has enough experience, education and leisure to devote him to active citizenship, for citizen must not lead the life of mechanics or tradesmen, for such life is hostile to virtue. Thus, he regarded citizenship as a bond forged by the intimacy of participation in public matters.

The great responsibilities in-built in citizenship are not an imposition upon a natural state of human existence but are rather entirely in accordance with nature. Citizenship is nothing less than the fullest fulfilment of human potential in terms of the 'good life'. In this respect, as throughout Aristotle's Politics, the essence of citizenship lies in active participation. The citizen is not merely an inhabitant of the state, nor simply a member of a politically privileged class.

Aristotle makes significant difference between the 'parts' of the state and its "necessary conditions". Only those who actively share or have the means and leisure to share in the government of the state are its components or integral part. All the others are just the necessary conditions who provide the material environment within which the active citizens freed from menial tasks, can function.

It is demonstrated in theoretical studies that "Aristotle's idea of a citizen is broadly different from the modern conception because it is not representative but primary government that he has in view. His citizen is not content to have a say in the choosing of his rulers; every citizen is actually to rule in turn, and not merely in the sense of being a member of the executive, but in the sense, a more important one for Aristotle, of helping to make the laws of his state, for the executive is assigned the comparatively small function supplementing the laws when they are inadequate owing to their generality. It is owing to this lofty conception of a citizen's duties that he so closely narrows the citizen body." This is the reason that Aristotle excludes the mechanic class from citizenship.

Aristotle's conception of the citizen would not be effective today. He was unsuccessful to see the prospects of representative government. In present scenario, the minimum requirement for citizenship is the power of voting for the representatives of the people who do the actual ruling in an egalitarianism.

Distributive justice:

The belief of justice is profoundly rooted in Western thought. Conventionally, it reflects our belief in the idea of fairness. Aristotle thought that justice is the core of the state and that no polity can sustain for a long time unless it is founded on a right scheme of justice. He opined that justice is complete virtue, and the epitome of all goodness. It is not the same thing as virtue, but it is virtue and virtue in action. Therefore, Aristotle clearly explained that 'the goodness in the sphere of politics is justice, and justice contains what tends to promote the common interest." It is established that Aristotle introduced the notion of distributive justice. In his Nicomachean Ethics, and at the side of the general notion of justice. The term "just," has two meaning. Firstly, it is mainly used to describe a conduct in agreement with the "law";' a conduct, therefore, which conforms to an established, authoritative rule of human conduct, It can be said that it is used to define a conduct which conforms to whatever constitutes an authoritative instrument of social and moral control. In this sense Justice signifies a "moral disposition which renders men apt to do just things and which causes them to act justly and to wish what is just." It refers primarily to the application or observance of certain authoritative rules of human conduct. Secondly, Justice signifies Equality or a "fair mean." Justice in the sense of Equality has to do with external and commensurable things. It is concerned with the proportionate ratio of commensurable goods.

Aristotle elucidated the relation of "moral Justice" and Equality by pointing out that Equality is related to "moral Justice" in the same way as the part is related to the whole.

Aristotle believed that justice saves the states from destruction, it makes the states and political life pure and healthy. According to Aristotle, justice is either general or particular. He further said that general justice is complete goodness. It is complete in the fullest sense, because it is the exercise of complete goodness not only in himself but also towards his neighbours. Particular justice is a part of complete or general justice.

He mentioned special kinds of justice, which he called corrective justice and distributive justice. Corrective justice is associated with voluntary commercial transactions like sale, hire, furnishing of security, etc and other things like aggression on property and life, honour and freedom. Distributive justice consists of proper allocation to each person according to his worth. This type of justice relates primarily but not exclusively to political freedoms.

Concept of distributive justice demonstrates each type of political organisation, its own standard of worth and therefore, of distributive justice. Distributive justice calls for honour or political office or money to be apportioned in accordance with merit (Samuel Fleischacker, 2009). Distributive justice allocates to every man his due according to his contributions to the society. Distributive justice is recognizable with proportionate equality. Aristotle's idea of distributive Justice does not apply to modern conditions. Based on the notion of award of officers and honours in proportion to contribution of man to society, it could apply to a small city states and is not applicable to modern self-governing states with large population. Thus, his theory of distributive justice is outlying from the reality of the modern world.

Education: Aristotle delineated that education must be modified to the constitution of the state and should be designed to train man in a certain type of character suitable to the state. According to him, the building of a particular type of character was more important than the imparting of knowledge and therefore proper educational authority was the states and not the private individuals. Aristotle further elaborated that "Education is the creation of a sound mind in a sound body. It develops man's faculty, especially his mind so that he may be able to enjoy the contemplation of supreme truth, goodness and beauty of which perfect happiness essentially consists."

Similar to thoughts of Plato, Aristotle accepted the importance of early childhood as a formative period of human development. He divided schooling into three stages: primary, secondary, and higher education. Ages 7-14 would attend primary and could consist of gymnastics, writing, reading, music, and drawing. Ages 14-21 would attend secondary and would continue their primary studies while implementing literature, poetry, drama, choral music, and dancing. The last four years would be spent in military drill, tactics, and strategy. Higher studies would begin at age 21 and continue as long as the student was willing and able. Higher education was for males only as Aristotle believed women were not capable of such complex studies.

It is supposed Aristotle wrote 150 philosophical treatises with the 30 that survive touching on an enormous range of philosophical problems, from biology and physics to morals to aesthetics to politics. Though, many are thought to simply be "lecture notes" instead of complete treatises and a few may not even be Aristotle's but of members of his school. One of the major discoveries that were made during the Crusades was that of Aristotle's texts which had not been found up until this point. With the discovery of these texts, the rise of Islam, and the spread of the Arab Empire, they became familiar to Muslim scholars who translated them into Arabic. They then spread throughout the Islamic world including Spain. In the 12th century, scholars came from England, Paris, and Italy to seek them out and translate them into Latin. At this point, Aristotle's texts had now spread into the intellectual centres of the West. Arabic scholars have managed to preserve Aristotle's work in whole and they have recognized over time that none of his work is consistent with any religious ideas or thoughts of his time. Aristotle's works were finally translated into Latin and then circulated all through Europe to give birth of modern atheism.

Aristotle was supporter of setting of state controlled educational institutions. However, Aristotle's view on education was less comprehensive and systematic compared to his master, Plato. On the basis of his study of 158 constitutions, Aristotle has given a classification which became a guide for all the successive philosophers who tried to classify government. He classified governments on a twofold basis that include:

  1. The end of the state
  2. The number of persons who hold or share autonomous power. This basis allows us to distinguish between the pure and corrupt forms of government. This is because the true end of the state is the perfection of its members and the degree of devotion to this end is the criterion to judge whether a government is pure or unethical.

Table: Classification of government

In above table it is described that kingdom signifies the rule of a monarch for common good with oppression as its perversion. Aristotle articulated that monarchy is the pure form of government when the monarch rules for the benefits of the people without any discrimination. Of the three true forms, Aristotle holds monarchy to be the most perfect type of government. Aristotle's profound sympathy for monarchy is to be understood in the light of his relations with the rising Macedonian monarchy.

Aristotle described democracy as a government formed of the best men absolutely, and not just of men who are relatively, that is in relation to changing circumstances and constitutions. The corrupt form of aristocracy is oligarchy in which government by affluent is carried on for their own benefit instead of the whole state. Whereas merit and virtue the distinctive qualities to be considered in selecting the rulers in an aristocracy, wealth is the basis of selection in an oligarchy.

The third true form of state is polity or constitutional government. Aristotle elaborated polity as the state that the citizens at large control for the common interest. Constitutional government is a compromise between the two philosophies of freedom and wealth that attempt to unite the freedom of the poor and the wealth of the rich, without giving either principle exclusive predominance. The degenerate form of constitutional government is democracy and defined it as a system in which the poor rule. It is government by the poor, and for the poor, only just as dictatorship is government by one for his own benefit and oligarchy government by the wealthy few for their class benefit.


Aristotle was deeply involved in examining the notion of revolution. According to Aristotle, "If any change occurs in the existing system or constitution of the state, it means the revolution. He thoroughly explained the theory of revolution. In his study of nearly 158 constitutions, he understood the implications of revolutions on a political system. In his work, Politics, he deliberated at length all about revolutions. Aristotle gave a scientific analysis and expert treatment to the subject of revolutions. He offered broad meaning to the term 'revolution' which meant two things to him. To explore stability through polity, Aristotle inspected the causes for instability, change and revolution and recommend remedies against unnecessary and continuous change.

Measure of revolution:

Aristotle indicated that there are different types of measure of revolution. These are

  1. A revolution may take the form of a change of constitution of state.
  2. The revolution may try to grasp political power without changing the constitution.
  3. A revolution may be directed against not the inter system of government, but a particular institution or set of persons in the state.

In book of the politics, Aristotle conferred one of the most important problems which made it a hand book for all state men for all time to come. The analytical and the empirical mind of Aristotle gives several causes of revolution and suggest remedies to overcome them. Prof. Ebenstein indicated that Politics of Aristotle is more a book on the art of government than a systematic exposition of political philosophy. In Aristotle analysis, the evils that were predominant in the Geek cities and the defects in the political systems gives practical suggestions as to the best way to avoid dangers.

Causes of revolution:

Aristotle described that there are two categories of causes of revolution that include general and particular.

General Causes:

The general causes of revolutions were broadly categorised into three.

  1. Psychological motives or the state of mind.
  2. The objectives in mind.
  3. The occasions that gave rise to political upheaval and mutual strife.

The psychological factors were the desire for equality in an oligarchy and inequality in a democracy .The objectives in mind included profit, honour, insolence, fear superiority in some form, contempt disproportionate increase in some part of the state, election intrigues, wilful negligence, neglect of unimportant changes, fear of opposites and dissimilarity of component parts of the state. The events that give rise to revolutionary changes were disrespect, desire for profit and honour, superiority, fear, contempt, and disproportionate increase in one part or element of the state.

Aristotle stated that revolutions occur when the political order fails to correspond to the distribution of property and hence tensions arise in the class structure, eventually leading to revolutions. Arguments over justice are at the centre of the revolution.

The cause of revolution is a desire on the part of those who are lacking of virtue and who are motivated by an urge to possess property, which is in the name of their opponents. In other words, the cause of disturbance is inequality.

Aristotle recorded certain general causes of revolutions that affect all types of governments and states. These include, the mental state or feelings of those who revolt; the motive, which they desire to fulfil; the immediate source or occasion of revolutionary outburst.

The mental state is nothing but a desire for equality and it is a state of imbalance. Another objective of those rebel or revolt is to gain honour. Besides these, Aristotle gave other reasons, which are psychological as well as political in nature that lead to revolutions. They are as follows:

  1. Profit means that the officers of the state try to make illicit gains at the expense of the individual or of the public. It puts the latter to an undeserved loss and creates a mood of discontent.
  2. Rebellions occur when men are dishonoured rightly or wrongly and when they see others obtaining honours that they do not deserve. The like-minded people join the movement when the government fails to redress their grievances.
  3. Revolutions happen when insolence or disrespect is displayed by the other members. A revolutionary climate would be soon created, especially when the state officials become haughty, arrogant and drunk with power, or pay no attention to the genuine problems of the people. This leads to a deep division in the society, especially between the state and the people. Over a period of time, people's complaints against corrupt officials increase which culminate into revolutions.
  4. Fear is a genuine and a worst enemy of man and human institutions. It interrupts peace of mind and other emotions. Revolutions can occur either out of fear of punishment for a wrong actually committed or a fear of an expected wrong to be inflicted on the person who is afraid.
  5. Disdain is closely related to revolution. This contempt can be towards rules, laws, political and economic situations, social and economic order. The contempt is also due to inequalities, injustices, lack of certain privileges and the like.
  6. Lastly, revolutions are also the consequence of imbalances in the disproportionate increase in the power of the state that creates a gap between the constitution and the society. In the end, the constitution reflects social realities, the balances of social and economic forces.

If this balance is troubled, the constitution is traumatised and it will either get modified or will succumb. The political factors that exaggerate revolution include elections intrigues, carelessness, neglecting small changes, growth in reputation and power of some office, or even balance of parties lead to deadlock and finally foreign influence.

Particular Causes: Aristotle recognized certain specific causes in various types of states. For instance, in democracies, discontentment is raised by the manipulators who attack the rich either individually or collectively and build hatred among the people who become revengeful and violent and this situation leads to conflicts.

In oligarchies, revolutions occur when masses experience an unpleasant treatment by the officials resulting in dissensions within the governing class. Personal disagreements may further the flames of fire and though imperceptible, changes in the class structure of society may invisibly alter the attitude.

Aristotle believed that it is not necessary that oligarchy become democracy or vice versa, but they might change into a completely different system altogether. In aristocracies, revolutions occur when the circle of the rulers get narrowed down and become thinner and thinner. It is the disequilibrium in the balance of the different elements or parts of the constitution that causes revolutions. As far as the monarchies and the tyrannies are concerned, revolutions are caused by insolence, resentment of insults, fears, contempt, and desire for fame, influence of neighbouring states, sexual offences and physical illnesses.

Aristotle indicated that there are unpredictable degrees of revolution. A revolution many take the form of a change of constitution a state or the revolutionaries may try to grasp political power without changing the constitution. A revolution may be directed against not the entire system of government but a particular institution or set of person in the state. A revolution may be completing equipped or peaceful and personal or impersonal.

In order to identify a revolution, it is important to consider the temper of the revolutionaries and their motives and causes and occasions of revolution. Aristotle deliberated general causes of revolution and then looked into the reasons why individual constitutions changed. Contrary to Plato, Aristotle professed multiple reasons for revolutions rather than a regime's prominent deficiency. He placed greater responsibility on the rulers to ensure stability and justice.

In general, Aristotle states that poverty is main factor for revolution and crime. When there is no middle class and the poor greatly exceed in number, troubles arise, and the state soon comes to an end. In democracy, the most important cause of revolution is the dishonest character of the popular leaders. Demagogues attack the rich, individually or collectively, so as to provide them to forcibly resist and provide the emergence of oligarchy. The causes of overthrow of oligarchies can be internal as when a group within the class in power becomes more influential or external, by the mistreatment of the masses in governing. When the number of people benefiting become smaller or when disparity between rich and poor becomes wider, revolution is caused in a monarchy. Sedition was usually due to fear, contempt, and desire for fame, insults, hatred and desire by neighbouring states to extend their boundaries.

Techniques to prevent revolution:

For prevention of revolution, Aristotle desired the rulers to conform laws even in smallest matters. He assumed that wrongdoing, of even in small amounts, would sooner or later result in total disrespect and violation. Further, taking cue from the rulers, if people start breaking the laws, the entire social order would be at stake.

He intensely recommended the rulers that they must believe that they can fool some people all the time, all the people for some time and not all the people all the time. It can be said that, people should not be taken for granted, and sooner or later they will burst with abruptness and throw the rulers.

Aristotle also indicated that the rulers must take care of all those people in their domain. They should not differentiate between the officer and commoner, between governing and non-governing and the like. The principle of democratic equality must be followed. Additionally, every inhabitant must be given liberty to express their opinions about the government and that the tenure of the officials must be short-term. By this technique, oligarchies and aristocracies would not fall into the hands of the families.

In general form, Aristotle has suggested a number of useful and practical remedies for preventing revolutions. The first essential remedy are to instruct the spirit of obedience to law, especially in small matters and to watch the beginning of change in the constitution. Aristotle recommended that too much power should not be allowed to one man or one class of men and various classes in the state should be treated with consideration. Great political offices in the state should be outside the reach of unkind strangers and aliens. Holders of offices should not be able to make private gain. Public administration, particularly financial administration, should be exposed to public scrutiny. Additionally, offices and honours should be awarded on considerations of distributive justice and no class of citizens should have a control of political power. Again, the higher offices in the state should be distributed only on considerations of loyalty to the constitution administrative capacity and integrity of character, but each citizen must have his due.

In final note, Aristotle contended that effective education is necessary to control the revolutionary instinct and to preserve social order.


It is well established that democracy is derived from a Greek word which means government of the people, by the people and for the people. Demos means people, and cratos means government. This is the meaning of the word. Democracy, or rule by the people, is an egalitarian form of government in which all the citizens of a nation determine public policy, the laws, and the actions of their state together. Democracy requires that all citizens have an equal opportunity to express their opinion.

With reference to democracy, Aristotle believed that democracy is characterised by twin principles of freedom and majority rule. Aristotle was not opposed to democracy in similar way as Plato did. According to him, democracy is a form of government in which supreme power is with freemen. He believed that the aggregates virtue and ability of the mass of the people was greater than the virtue and ability of a part of the population. People do not understand the technicalities of an administration, they have the common sense of appointing right administrators and legislators and of checking any misbehaviour on the part of the latter. Aristotle's democracy means aristo- democracy of the free citizens because the large body of slaves and aliens can have no share in the government of the day. Direct democracy is possible only in a small city state. Aristotle denounces only the extreme form of democracy namely mobocracy.

Ideally, Aristotle analogized rule by the many (democracy/polity) with rule by the few (oligarchy/aristocracy) and with rule by a single person (tyranny or autocracy/monarchy). He believed that there was a good and a bad variant of each system. For Aristotle, the basic principle of democracy is freedom, since only in a democracy the citizens have a share in freedom. There are two main aspects of freedom: (1) being ruled and ruling in turn, since everyone is equal according to number and not by merit, and (2) to be able to live as one wishes.

It can be appraised that Aristotle's conversation of politics is decisively stranded in the world of the Greek city-state, or polis. He assumes that any state will consist of the same basic elements of a Greek city-state: male citizens who administer the state, and then women, slaves, foreigners, and noncitizen labourers who perform the necessary menial tasks to keep the city running. Aristotle considers active citizenship as an essential trait of the good life. He insists that we can only fully realize our wisdom and humanity as citizens of a city-state. He concludes that fully realized humans are successful political leader.

To summarize, Aristotle's Political description has served as a groundwork for the whole western political tradition. His encyclopaedic mind embraced practically all the branches of human knowledge. Dissimilar to Plato's Republic, Aristotle's works were dignified in thinking and analysis, reflecting the mind of a scientist instead of that of a philosopher. He considered as the father of political science because he was perhaps the first political thinker to analyse political institutions and behaviour systematically and scientifically. Aristotle determines that "man is a political animal". People can only achieve the good life by living as citizens in a state. In deliberating the economic relations that hold within a city-state, Aristotle protects the institution of private property, condemns excessive capitalism, and notoriously defends the institution of slavery. Before presenting his own views, Aristotle converses various theoretical and actual models current at his time. In particular, he launches extensive attacks on Plato's Republic and Laws, which most critics find unproductive and off the mark, as well as criticizing other modern philosophers and the constitutions of Sparta, Crete, and Carthage. Aristotle recognizes citizenship with the holding of public office and administration of justice and claims that the identity of a city rests in its constitution. In the case of a revolution, where the citizenship and constitution change, a city's identity changes, and so it cannot be held responsible for its actions before the revolution. He was a great innovator in political science.