Plato, The Republic

Essay by Mike HenryUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, April 1997

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Aristotle's Politics is a timeless examination of government structure and human nature that explains his ideas on how a utopian state can be achieved. In this work, Aristotle examines ubiquitous issues such as government structure, education, crime, property ownership, the honesty of occupations, and population control. He states in Book IV, Chapter Eleven '...the best form of political association is one where power is vested in the middle class, and secondly, that good government is attainable in those cities where there is a large middle class...'

The polis is a partnership of citizens in a system of government that serves to achieve the common good. It is not just a place where people live together for defense against enemies and for the exchange of goods. It is rather a partnership between households, clans, and villages for the sake of a fully developed and self-sufficient life. The polis gives those who possess wisdom and moral intellect a chance to move up to high positions

Justice is the political good in the polis, and it must promote the common interest of the people.

What is perceived to be good has to be distributive and regulative. The law is the regulating mechanism that emerges from free and equal people in civic associations. It serves as the final arbiter of problems, and stands above individuals and binds their actions. Laws change habits and training, but are changeable through certain circumstances and procedures if it is believed to be unjust. The well-being of a society is contingent upon to what extent its citizens obey the law. A member of the polis can be defined as someone who can participate in judging (serve as a juror in the court system), and in governing (serve in public office). A good citizen must possess moderation, prudence,