Aristotle Mixed Constitution Analysis

Good Essays

In his ground-breaking text The Politics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle was a staunch advocate of a mixed constitution. A mixed constitution is a form of government in which there is an amalgamation of characteristics that comprise differing types of constitutions. There are a plethora of reasons that are argued to have contributed to his adoption of this stance. However, this essay will hone in on three that are posited to be crucial: firstly, the well-known philosophical principle that two extremes cancel out the worst excesses in each other, from which stability will result; secondly, […] ; and thirdly, […] Prior to a discussion that will ensue on why and the grounds on which Aristotle advocates a mixed constitution, this …show more content…

What is of greater underlying significance for Aristotle, however, is not so much the size of the citizen-body as the stark contrast between the respective ideas that “those constitutions which aim at the common good are right, as being in accord with absolute justice” and “those which aim only at the common good of the rulers are wrong” (The Politics, 3:6, 1279a16, p. 189). In practice, Aristotle’s juxtaposition is implicitly suggestive that if one is ruling in their own self-interest, regardless of the size of the group, and be that for themselves or the minority to which they belong, then they are in essence missing the point of what it is that they are supposed to be doing. Thus, the key point Aristotle is trying to make is this: the ruler of a polis or state; be that one person, a few people, or many people; should govern in accordance with the interests of the polis or state as a whole at heart rather than with the interests of a select few.
Following on from the preceding discussion, then, it is possible to explore the types of constitution in existence. From the aforementioned distinction, we can observe correct – rule with a view to the common good – and deviated – rule with a view to the private advantage – constitutional arrangements. Within each of these are three types of constitution. The three correct types of constitution comprise a kingship, an aristocracy, and a polity; the three deviated types of constitution consist of a tyranny,

Get Access