1. Life and Time:
Aristotle was born at Stagira on the Aegean Sea in 384 B.C.
His father was a physician to the King of Macedon. This gave him an opportunity to acquire first-hand information about the royal court. It also gave him understanding of the working of the state. It helped Aristotle to develop an analytical and scientific bent of mind.
He came to Athens at the age of eighteen and joined Plato’s academy where he stayed for twenty years till the death of Plato in 347 B.C. In 342 B.C. he was called to Macedonia to become the tutor of young Alexander. After the death of Alexander he fled to Chalcis and died the same year.
Aristotle studied under Plato for 20 years from the age of 17 to 37. This association was “the factor most important in the shaping of his philosophy- political and other.”
Prof. Roster says “Aristotle is the greatest of all Platonists. He is permeated by Platonism to a degree in which perhaps no great philosopher besides him has been permeated by the thought of another”.
Aristotle was influenced by Plato in his following ideas:
1. Social nature of human beings
2. State as a natural institution
3. Aristocratic nature of government
4. Denouncing democracy
5. Idealized the city state
6. Commensurability of interests between individual and state.
7. Interdependence between ethics and politics.
In addition to it, Aristotle was greatly influenced by
1. His father who was a biologist, this led Aristotle to compare state with organism and individuals with organs.
2. The turbulent state of affairs led Aristotle to believe that rulers were idealist. If political actualities could be examined, the prevailing state of affairs could be improved.
3. Personal experience of a happy married life.
4. Preconceived Greek notions and myth of Greek superiority. His justification of slavery and notion of citizenship confirms his biases.
3. Position of Aristotle:
Aristotle, the ablest of Plato’s disciple is novel in many respects. Unlike his master, Aristotle devotes his attention to political realities and can be rightly hailed as father of science of politics. Aristotle’s Work: The Politics
4. State Natural Institution:
Aristotle, a disciple of Plato imbibed a few teaching of his master. One such similarity in the political philosophy of the two thinkers is to treat state as a natural institution, possessing moral authority. The state aims at moral perfection of men who can achieve self sufficiently only in the state.
Natural character of the state is justified by Aristotle on following grounds:
Firstly, Aristotle insists that the two primary instincts of reproduction and self preservation force the men to associate with family is the first step in such direction and state is the union of several villages which is a union of several families.
Secondly, According to Aristotle, state exemplifies the real character of man. They can realize themselves only in the state. Being a rational creature man can develop their rational faculties only through membership of state.
Thirdly, Aristotle stresses that the state is an organism and individuals are its part.
Fourthly, Aristotle’s dictum “man is political animal” and “state is natural” reinforces each other.
The ideas of politics have been enriched enormously by Aristotle’s view that the state is a natural institution.
As Ross points out,
“Aristotle did a good service to political thought by insisting that the state does not exist merely by convention but is rooted in human nature”.
By doing so, he paved the way for collective political life for common good of the citizenship.