Gov Summaries - Presentation on Aristotle City-States and...

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Presentation on Aristotle City-States and Constitutions: A Presentation on Legislation The early section of our class’ second reading from Politics primarily focuses on a multitude of issues dealing with almost all aspects of forming, running, and the nomenclature of a government. I decided to focus on two primary subjects: citizenship and city-states as well as the five different types of constitution. Initially, he attempts to “see what [a] city-state is.” He attempts to do this by breaking up a city-state into its parts; the first, and most important, component proves to be the citizens. Aristotle grapples with several definitions of what, exactly, constitutes a citizen. He mentions many qualifications for citizens—special naming for young children, elderly people, people who’s mother was a slave, bastard children, people who’s mother was a citizen, people who’s father was a citizen, people who’s parents were both citizens, and finally people who participate in judgment and office. Ultimately, Aristotle presents not only his definition for a citizen, but also derives his definition for a city-state from said definition; he claims, “someone who is eligible to participate in deliberative and judicial office is a citizen” and “a city-state . . . is a multitude of such people.” I completely agree with Aristotle’s conclusions of citizens and city-states. I, however, also believe that nationality and citizenship remain different. Any person who is politically active and productive in a given city-state should be considered a citizen; they are doing their part to contribute as best they can. But I do not believe that their nationality should be so easily transferable. Limits must still exist such as minimum years of residence, a demonstrable effort to learn the new cultures and customs that come with a new city-state, and a proven loyalty to the new place of residence. Furthermore, I agree with Aristotle’s definition of a city-state, but that is because it is an incredibly obvious definition. He basically asserts that citizens are people with competency levels sufficient to make the state self-sufficient. There is no mystery that if you fill a city-state with self-sufficient people it will, in fact, be self-sufficient. Aristotle continues Politics, with an examination of the five different types of constitutions that rulers utilize: monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, aristocracy, and polity. Aristotle spends most of his time on aristocracy and polity. Aristocracy consists of a set of rulers who are “unqualifiedly best as regards virtue;” therefore, they are good citizens as well as good men. Once again, as happened with Plato, the question of what is virtue and what determines good virtue arises in our study of Politics . Aristotle would probably consider our current political system to be an aristocratic one because we vote according to the merits, and indirectly the wealth, of our politicians. Polities interest Aristotle because they are a blend of oligarchy and democracy.
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