Aristotle vs. Hobbes: Equality.

Essay by JarnismUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, February 2006

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Aristotle vs. Hobbes, constitutes a debate between two great thinkers from two profoundly different periods of time. Whereas Aristotle (384 - 322 BCE) had been a part of the Greek's and more precisely, Athens's Golden Age, Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) had lived through the English Civil War of 1640s to become one of the most influential philosophers. Based on their own personal experiences and surroundings, both Aristotle and Hobbes had developed a view of what human equality should sustain. However, Hobbes' understanding of natural equality is preferable, as he provides society with the extra room for equality and opportunity that the subjects of a good sovereign would experience to be available to them, in comparison to Aristotle's hierarchical division of people into natural superiors, inferiors and slaves, who are given very limited achievements and opportunities.

Aristotle's idea of equality would have applied to all citizens who participate in the political life of the city-state in which they live.

By doing so, they would have acquired the human virtues and excellences, as well as achieve their natural telos as a "political animal" (Aristotle, p. 4). Only within a city-state, citizens are able to participate and enhance their political and practical reason, thus reach their human telos. As such, the city-state is "among the things that exist by nature" (Aristotle, p. 4), and living in one is the only possible natural outcome for humans. However, the term citizen in Aristotle's perspective would not have applied to everyone, but it would have been rather limited within the city-state.

The city-state had been formed as a household, a partnership between "persons who cannot exist without one another" (Aristotle, 1252a27) and had later developed into a community of households, villages, the telos of which results...