Politics of Plato and Aristotle

To compare the political theories of two great philosophers of

politics is to first examine each theory in depth. Plato is regarded

by many experts as the first writer of political philosophy, and

Aristotle is recognized as the first political scientist. These two

men were great thinkers. They each had ideas of how to improve

existing societies during their individual lifetimes. It is necessary

to look at several areas of each theory to seek the difference in


The main focus of Plato is a perfect society. He creates a

blueprint for a utopian society, in his book The Republic, out of his

disdain for the tension of political life (Hacker, 24). This blueprint

was a sketch of a society in which the problems he thought were

present in his society would be eased (Hacker 24). Plato sought to

cure the afflictions of both human society and human personality

(Hacker 24). Essentially what Plato wants to achieve is a perfect


Aristotle, unlike Plato, is not concerned with perfecting

society. He just wants to improve on the existing one. Rather than

produce a blueprint for the perfect society, Aristotle suggested, in

his work, The Politics, that the society itself should reach for the

best possible system that could be attained (Hacker 71). Aristotle

relied on the deductive approach, while Aristotle is an example of an

inductive approach (Hacker 71). Utopia is a solution in abstract, a

solution that has no concrete problem (Hacker 76). There is no solid

evidence that all societies are in need of such drastic reformation as

Plato suggests (Hacker 76). Aristotle discovers that the best possible

has already been obtained (Hacker 76). All that can be done is to try

to improve on the existing one.

Plato's utopia consists of three distinct, non-hereditary

class systems (Hacker 32). The Guardians consist of non ruling

Guardians and ruling Guardians. The non-rulers are a higher level of

civil servants and the ruling is the society's policy makers (Hacker

32). Auxilaries are soldiers and minor civil servants (Hacker 32).

Finally the Workers, are composed of farmers and artisans, most

commonly unskilled laborers (Hacker 32). The Guardians are to be wise

and good rulers. It is important that the rulers who emerge must be a

class of craftsmen who are public-spirited in temperament and skilled

in the arts of government areas (Hacker 33). The guardians are to be

placed in a position in which they are absolute rulers. They are

supposed to be the select few who know what is best for society

(Hacker 33).

Aristotle disagrees with the idea of one class holding

discontinuing political power (Hacker 85). The failure to allow

circulation between classes excludes those men who may be ambitious,

and wise, but are not in the right class of society to hold any type

of political power (Hacker 85). Aristotle looks upon this ruling class

system as an ill-conceived political structure (Hacker 86). He quotes

"It is a further objection that he deprives his Guardians even of

happiness, maintaining that happiness of the whole state which should

be the object of legislation," ultimately he is saying that Guardians

sacrifice their happiness for power and control. Guardians who lead

such a strict life will also think it necessary to impose the same

strict lifestyle on the society it governs (Hacker 86).

Aristotle puts a high value on moderation (Hacker 81). Many

people favor moderation because it is part-liberal and

part-conservative. There is so much of Plato's utopia that is

undefined and it is carried to extremes that no human being could

ever fulfill its requirements (Hacker 81). Aristotle believes that

Plato is underestimating the qualitative change in human character and

personality that would have to take place in order to achieve his

utopia (Hacker 81). Plato chose to tell the reader of his Republic how

men would act and what their attitudes would be in a perfect society

(Hacker 81). Aristotle tries to use real men in the real world in an

experimental fashion to foresee how and in which ways they can be

improved (Hacker 81).

Both Plato and Aristotle agree that justice exists in an

objective sense: that is, it dictates a belief that the good life

should be provided for all individuals no matter how high or low their

social status (Hacker 91). "In democracies, for example, justice is

considered to mean equality, in oligarchies, again inequality in the