Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Politics of Plato and Aristotle

The essence of Platonic political theory is that all political systems are flawed. In the Republic, five types of regimes are examined—Aristocracy, Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny—and problems are found in each one of them. The essence of Aristotelian politics is that the nature of the regime is inconsequential. As long as the kingdom is stable, and a leisurely life of metaphysical contemplation for the intellectual elite is possible, the regime can be tolerated. When Plato becomes the tutor of the tyrant of Syracuse, he makes heroic efforts to get the tyrant to accept his moral and political ideas, but his efforts cannot make a dent in the wall of political reality. Plato’s suspicion of all types of regimes is an outcome of his failure in Syracuse. After Plato’s death, Aristotle was asked by Philip II of Macedon to become Alexander’s tutor. Aristotle accepted the job without any philosophical and political agenda. There is no evidence that Alexander learned any moral and political theory from Aristotle.

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