Greek philosopher Aristotle may have died in 322 BCE. But it was he who laid the foundation of political science as we know it today. As one of the brightest intellectual figures in the history of humankind. He laid down the theories and principles that form the very basis of the discipline of political science in modern classrooms.
But before we talk about Aristotle’s contributions as a political scientist and his theories, let us look at his background. It provides a window into his world and helps us understand the motivations behind what Aristotle said and why he said it. At the same time, it also gives the context in which those things had been told.
Aristotle’s Life As A Context To His Theories
Aristotle was born in northeastern Greece in 384 BCE. As his father was a doctor, he was introduced to the study of human beings. He lost his parents as a child and, at the age of 17, he was sent to Athens, then the center of Greek power and polity, to study at Plato’s academy.
As a foreigner to Athens, he was not allowed to take part in the democratic process of the city-state. In 343 BCE, King Phillip of Macedonia ordered Aristotle’s appointment as his son’s tutor, who would later become Alexander the Great.
A few years later, Aristotle returned to Athen and set up a school called Lyceum. As he spent time thinking about various subjects, he became critical of Pluto’s teachings and developed his more pragmatic theories. Surprisingly, many of his works completed during his time at this school survive today.
After spending 13 years in the city-state, Aristotle left Athens in 323 BCE due to the rising resentment against people of Macedonian origin. He died soon after.
As a keen observer of the world and wordplay, he discerned that there is a motive behind everything that a human being pursues in life. It drew him closer to understanding how these motivations are shaped and how they manifest in daily life.
At least 13 treatises of his work have survived.
Aristotle believed that the practical knowledge of political science would allow people to live better lives. To make it easier for people to understand his thoughts better, he divided them into three main branches. One of these branches is ‘practical science’, which has theories on how people should act in the world. And questions related to the behavior of individuals and societies, including ethics and politics. Aristotle believed that a well organized political community was essential for individuals to live a virtuous and harmonious life. It also studies and describes in detail the tasks of a politician and analyses the types of constitutions, laws and education.
Aristotle’s Philosophy Different From Plato’s
Aristotle’s understanding of politics is very different from Plato’s. While Plato believed that politics involved moving beyond the world of our senses, Aristotle had a much more evidence-based understanding of what politics entails.
This was because Aristotle believed that the knowledge of politics. The theories that govern it could be derived from the world around us. He said it was important to understand how things appeared to us in our immediate environment and collect opinions about how they could be improved. To accomplish his purpose of making students learn through experience. He encouraged his students to travel throughout Greece in an open environment and practical knowledge.. He wanted them to develop a better understanding of the regimes that existed at that time in over 150 Greek cities. The students could then use their experience and learning and support them with practical examples collected during their travels.
Aristotle also believed in a hierarchically organized world in which the tasks of each individual were separate. He believed that human beings have the capacity and potential to serve in a certain role and wanted every individual to identify this role. Unlike Plato, he believed that human beings needed to pursue a purpose in life and not be at the mercy of events to shape who they are. This thought forms the basis of today’s liberal understanding of individualism in western societies.
The Foundations Of A State
Aristotle believed that the state had a critical role to play in the well being of its people. He was the first person to articulate the principles of a welfare state. He’s one that took care of its citizens and ensured that they contributed to the state’s survival. Unlike what many believe today, Aristotle did not believe in a liberal and democratic states like the ones we have today in North America, Europe and India. He argued that a hybrid regime, one that was good to its people but strong enough to survive attacks, was best suited to fulfill the needs of the people.
The security of the state apparatus, Aristotle believed, was of paramount importance. It is his belief that the people could only be secure if the state had the means to wage war on their behalf. This belief acts as the basis of the argument that in a modern state. The government must have a monopoly over the means of inflicting violence. It’s necessary to avoid unnecessary violence in society. Aristotle believed and argued passionately at different times in his relatively short life.
Given that his theories and principles are at the very foundation of politics and state in today’s world, Aristotle is the undisputed father of political science.
Read More: Business startup blogs