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Aristotle: Early Life and His Political Philosophy

The author is studying political science. She is always ready to dive into the ocean of history.

A Greek bronze bust of Aristotle

A Greek bronze bust of Aristotle

A Short Biography

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher born in Stagira, Greece, in 384 B.C. He was a student of Plato. His father, Nicomacus died when he was a child and brought up by a guardian. He went to Plato's academy in Athens and at thirty-seven, he left because of the death of Plato. Shortly after this, he moved to Macedon to tutor Alexander the Great. In 330s BCE, he returned to Athens and opened his 'Lyceum'. In Lyceum, he wrote many treatises and essays for publication but only a third of his work survived.

Aristotle's Lyceum

It was the first organization for the study and research purposes that was based on the Peripatetic School of philosophy. It is opened by Aristotle in 335 BCE. It is said that Alexander gathered various specimens of plants and animals for the research purpose of Aristotle. It was also believed that Alexander gave huge financial support to Lyceum what would be the counterpart of over 4 million dollars.

As a Tutor of Alexander the Great

The King of Macedon requested Aristotle to teach his son Alexander, which later became "Alexander the Great". Aristotle accepted his offers and started tutoring Alexander and Macedonian nobles who became friends with Alexander. He taught them about art, philosophy, logic, religion, and medicine. Aristotle taught them in the Temple of Nymphs near Naoussa. This place was rounded by natural sights include a river, trees, and swamps. Alexander used the epic poem of Homer for nurturing him and gave him an annotated copy of the poem.

Homer was a presumed poet of two ancient Greek epic poems 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey'. These epic poems have had a profound effect on Western culture. A little is known about Homer and his life. It is also believed that he was blind, but there is no such evidence.

As Father of Political Science

Father of political science—the title is justified for Aristotle. He has elaborated the concepts regarding state and terminologies which fall under the umbrella of political science. Theory of citizenship, the theory of golden mean, forms of government, education, slavery, and ideal state—all these topics got the interest of Aristotle. Aristotle gave clear dogmas instead of poking around illusions.

Aristotle and His Writings

Papyrus scrolls were the main medium of writing in that era. Aristotle used the papyrus scroll for writing and his writings may be divided into two forms, 'esoteric' which was for the use of the only Lyceum, and 'exoteric', which was for the public. The key works of Aristotle include— Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, Metaphysics, Poetics, and On The Soul (De Anima).

Politics: A Notable Work on Political Philosophy

Politics is a significant work by Aristotle, in which he has described his political philosophy. It is composed of eight books, and each book is further divided into chapters. In politics, he emphasized the nature of the state systems, women, slavery, citizenship, and types of government. Some of the main points of Aristotle's politics are:

  • Man as a political animal.
  • Polis exist by nature.
  • Aristotalian classification of government.
  • Defence of slavery.
  • Philosophy of education.

Let's discuss each point one by one:

Man as a Political Animal:

Aristotle believed that man is a social and political animal; he can communicate and dialogue. The statement by Aristotle, "man is a political animal", is fundamental to his politics. According to Aristotle, man would never choose to live alone. This is the nature of human beings that they intend to live in societies and because of this nature, the systems of states emerge. He was of the view that the state is prior by nature to the individuals of the polis (city-state).

Polis Exist by Nature

He believed that the city-states are naturally existed and ranked the state as the highest of all communities. Its purpose is supreme, and its function is to provide all the 'good' to its citizens. To sum up, Aristotle believed that the state is above all the association and came into existence after several stages. Men and women interacted with each other for the desire to make offspring. It is not about choice; it is a natural process. For survival, they needed a society in which they would interact for their interest. The family is the simplest form of association. Families joined and formed villages, and several villages gave rise to Polis.

The goal of politics is to engender a certain character in the citizens and make them good enough to conduct the noble functions of the state.

(Aristotle—Nicomachean Ethics)

Aristotlalian Classification of Government

In Aristotle's view, when the head of the state aims good for the state; it would be a pure form of government and when the ruler or ruling class becomes selfish and greedy for power, then the state would be a perverted number. According to him, when the rule is in the hands of one king or prince; the government would be a 'Monarchy'. And if the ruler or king becomes selfish and uses power for his interest, it becomes a 'Tyranny'.

Classification of government by Aristotle

Number of governing bodiesGood governanceBad governance

Rule by one



Rule by few



Rule by many



When the rule is in the hand of few people, and they run the state for the common good of all, the government would be 'Aristocracy'. And when these ruling people rule for their interest; it is 'Oligarchy'. In the same paradigm, when the state is ruled by many people, and they give priority to the national interest; the state would be a 'Polity'. And when these people do politics of interest and forget the national interest, it becomes 'democracy'.

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Defence of Slavery

Aristotle defended slavery and define the slave as a person who is not his own man. According to him, slaves are living in possession of their masters. There must be slaves in society so that the master can give time to the affairs of the state. A person who is not virtuous is a slave. To sum it up, the people who possess the abilities to contribute to state affairs are masters and the rest are slaves. However, he kept in mind some conditions for it. These are given below:

  • Masters should behave properly and if they become cruel; they must be subjected to a penalty.
  • Only mentally defective people should be enslaved.
  • Slaves are not subordinates but a crucial part of society. The master has no right to misuse his power.

Philosophy of Education

According to Aristotle, the purpose of education is not only the gain of knowledge but also the attainment of goodness in life. He believed that the early education of a child is the responsibility of parents, and further is the responsibility of the state. The moral development of children depends on their parents. He urged that the governments who don't nurture their young weaken the system of governance. For him, education is a linchpin of the polis, and the aim of education is not just intellectual, but also to bring common good and virtue within the community.

Criticism on Aristotle's Political Philosophy

Even the perfect work has to face criticism. Many reviewers like Karl Rogers complained that Aristotle's Politics are of no relevance to modern times—make no impact on present states. He had been criticized because of defending slavery. His theory of the state is also criticized because of its utilitarian nature. The people in the state have no separate rights. He considers the state as a supreme authority but in practical life, the state is never the holder of the supreme authority.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 EK Jadoon


EK Jadoon (author) from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 19, 2021:

Thanks for your visit, Manatita. Yes, I agree that we all are here for a specific purpose; we just need to identify it. With time, we need to change ourselves. And those who reject changes are rejected by the time.

Have a blessed day!

manatita44 from london on March 19, 2021:

A thought-provoking piece, Moondot.

Vibhutis come and go. It is Allah who uses us all at different times for different purposes. Moses was correct in his day, but the message of Christ enriched that of Moses. Point is that society evolves with Consciousness, and while some aspects of the Dharma are eternal and timeless, others are subjected to change. Yet they were necessary in their day. Excellent work!

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on March 18, 2021:

That's a fun idea to prepare your subjects via writing articles

One arrow and two targets, great

I wish you the very best


EK Jadoon (author) from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 18, 2021:

I appreciate your visit, Mubarak. Thanks for liking the article.

EK Jadoon (author) from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 18, 2021:

Sorry Misbah, I couldn't complete and edit my comment. I was telling you that along with writing articles, I am preparing my subject by choosing topics related to political science.

EK Jadoon (author) from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 18, 2021:

Amara, thanks for your visit. Have a blessed day!

Mubarak from INDIA on March 18, 2021:

Nice and informative article. Well done

EK Jadoon (author) from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 18, 2021:

Thanks jodah, for you visit. Aristotle is also famous for his book Poetics. And it is the earliest survivig work of dramatic theory and art of poetry.

EK Jadoon (author) from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 18, 2021:


I appritiate your visit, Misbah. I am glad that you liked it. Actually,


Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on March 18, 2021:

This is a very informative article about Aristotle. I enjoyed reading it, Monndot.

Thanks for sharing


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on March 18, 2021:

I found this article very interesting and informative. Thank you for sharing about Aristotle, Moondot.

Amara from Pakistan on March 18, 2021:

Informative article, and very well written..

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