What are Aristotle's six types of government

Summary of politics

Political philosophy in ancient Greece

The philosophical argument about politics is an invention of the Greeks. For the poet Homer, the legal system was still sacred: it came from the gods and was protected by them. But with the Greek tragedy poets Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, as well as with the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, one can observe how the logos (reason) is increasingly replacing myth (legend). The political thought of the Greeks dealt mainly with the coexistence in the polis, i. H. in the then common city-state such as Athens or Sparta.

In his writings, State and Laws, Plato aimed at an ideal form of government and constitution. His pupil Aristotle, on the other hand, aimed more firmly in reality, at the best of all possible states. During his lifetime, the heyday of the polis - ancient Greece was divided into many, mostly small city-states - was already over. Athens had surrendered its supremacy to Sparta since the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). In the time after Aristotle's death, the polis also lost importance in the world of political ideas. With the conquest of Persia, Alexander the Great, who was a student of Aristotle for a time, shifted the political heavyweight from the Greek Mediterranean region to the east; Greece's city-states lost their importance. After Alexander's death in 323 BC His empire was divided into three great dynasties. The philosophers were no longer concerned so much with life in a state community, but, like the Stoics and the Epicureans, more with the shaping of individual life.

Emergence of politics

It is not known in which order the individual books of Aristotle's Politics were written. Presumably during the philosopher's second stay in Athens (from 334 BC), i.e. at the time when Aristotle founded his school of philosophy there, a fundamental revision of the writings on which the work is based was carried out. Politics can therefore be regarded as a late work by Aristotle. He himself did not publish it; rather, research assumes that an editor compiled the current structure of the work after the death of the philosopher. The ancient text editor probably worked with half a dozen different lecture notes from Aristotle's students, which helps explain the inconsistency of the text. The philosopher's intention, however, is clear: Aristotle's writings, in which he emphasizes the state community, are to be understood as a reaction to the dissatisfaction of the Athenians with their state that spread in the 4th century. At the time, many Athenians viewed the state as an arduous burden without which it would be easier to live.

Impact history

Aristotle is considered the inventor of practical philosophy and next to Plato as the most powerful Greek philosopher. His writings on logic and ethics had far-reaching effects, and no political theorist can ignore his politics. The terms Aristotle used, such as B. State and democracy are defined differently today in terms of content. Nevertheless, Aristotle's theses are still discussed in university seminars by philosophers, political scientists and historians, but also by sociologists and lawyers. Aristotle's teaching was of the greatest importance for the end of antiquity, but above all for the medieval scholastics (Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, etc.). The scholastics simply called him "the philosopher" because for them he embodied the purest form of philosophy. Aristotle also had a special meaning for Islamic and Arabic philosophy. Aristotle's complete works were translated into Arabic around 800 AD.

In Europe it was only with the works of the English state theorist Thomas Hobbes in the 17th century that there was a break with the Aristotelian theses. These were increasingly replaced by the rationalistic-empirical political theories. In the second half of the 20th century - against the background of the emergence of totalitarian dictatorships and a general value relativism - representatives of normative-evaluative political theories such as Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt tried to tie in with the Aristotelian theory of the state. They emphasized the timeless values ​​of the classical work, on which political thinking and action should be oriented. Today it is above all politicians and scientists who identify themselves as Aristotelians who defend values ​​such as family, virtue and moderation.