Aristotle’s Conception about State

Origin of State

  • Aristotle believes that man is, by nature, a political animal. So state is also a natural product based on evolutionary theory and developed form of natural associations like households and villages.
  • He traces the origin of state to the innate desire of an individual to satisfy his/her economic needs and racial instincts.
  • The state is a culmination of widening circles of human associations based on human wants. It is not merely an economic association but also a moral community.
  • It renders possible good life.

Nature of the State

  • To Aristotle, “the state is a ‘political koimonia’ means association, fellowship, partnership or community and the state is the highest association and association of associations.
  • Koimonia implied not mere being together but living together for something higher than mere existence.
  • The state is not a Koimonia for war or trade. It is not a mere insurance against insecurity of life but it is a community of good life and prosperity.
  • Men live a social and political life not choice but because of their inherent natures. Their needs and desires and weaknesses and strengths make them do so.
  • The state is natural not only because it evolves from other associations but because in it alone can these associations and even individual find true complete development and perfection.
  • The state is natural because it is his destiny and his destination.
  • It enlarges the self sufficiency of the individual so is indispensable to him and therefore natural and inevitable to him.
  • It is like a nest that fosters not like a cage that cramps and thwarts.
  • The naturalness of the state is evident from the fact that ‘he who exists outside the state, by nature, is either a beast or God’.
  • In Aristotle’s word, “Man is a political animal destined by nature for state life, i.e., political life.

Purpose or end and functions of the state

  • Aristotle believed that man was essentially good and the functions of the state were to develop his good faculty into a habit of good action.
  • The function and the end of the state is positive and not negative as a punishing agency only.
  • The state is to ensure a perfect and self sufficing life, so its end is good life.
  • The state must provide opportunity to the individual for the attainment of intellectual, moral and physical excellence.
  • It is not only for the prevention of mutual crimes and insecurity but for the sake of a good, noble and perfect life.
  • Its aim is to provide the citizens ‘life of leisure’ and arrangement of education.
  • So state came into being for the sake of life and continues for the sake of good life, according to Aristotle.

Organic nature of state

  • Aristotle draws a pretty close analogy between human organism and the state.
  • As human organism has its integral parts like hands and feet, etc., and contributory parts like blood and bones, etc., in the state too, there are integral organs like military, judicial and deliberative classes representing the body of citizens and contributory organs like cultivators, artisans, labors and traders were non-citizens.
  • All organs both in individual and in the state should be sound and active.

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