Politics | Study Guide


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Politics | Quotes


From these things it is evident, then, that the city belongs among the things that exist by nature, and that man is by nature a political animal.

Aristotle, Book 1, Chapter 2

Aristotle believes relationships of power are intrinsic in humans, as is the need to rule and be ruled; therefore, people need governments, consisting of leaders and groupings of people.


It is evident, then, that it is better for property to be private, but to make it common in use.

Aristotle, Book 2, Chapter 5

Aristotle's beliefs on this matter contrast with those of Socrates, who believed in a more collective living. Aristotle believes in private ownership, which sets the intellectual stage for capitalism.


It is impossible for the whole to be happy unless all, or most or some, of its parts possess happiness.

Aristotle, Book 2, Chapter 5

Aristotle believes it is not enough for certain segments of a city's population to be happy; this does not make a happy city. All or most people in a city must be happy if it is to be considered happy overall.


It is not possible to rule well without having been ruled.

Aristotle, Book 3, Chapter 4

A ruler needs to know what life is like for the citizens he rules, says Aristotle. Only then can he understand how to lead effectively. A ruler who is out of touch with citizens' needs can never maintain an effective government.


The regime is an arrangement of a city with respect to its offices, particularly the one that has authority over all matters.

Aristotle, Book 3, Chapter 6

As Aristotle explains, a regime, or method of governance, is a form of organizational rule and encompasses different governmental and political figures. A regime's primary goal is to make sure a city runs effectively and its people lead virtuous lives.


The political good is justice, and this is the common advantage.

Aristotle, Book 3, Chapter 12

To Aristotle's mind, the point of politics is to seek a collective good, and this is how true justice emerges. Without politics, there is no entity to focus on benefitting the entire community.


What is many is more incorruptible; like a greater amount of water, the multitude is more incorruptible than the few.

Aristotle, Book 3, Chapter 15

Aristotle points out that governments are better when ruled by more people; the "multitude is more incorruptible" because each leader keeps the others in check, and multiple leaders are less subject to influence from outside sources.


For where the laws do not rule there is no regime.

Aristotle, Book 4, Chapter 4

If people do not follow laws, leaders lose their power, and there is no governance. Thus, says Aristotle, laws form the foundation of any government and must be fastidiously upheld.


The happy life is one in accordance with virtue and unimpeded.

Aristotle, Book 4, Chapter 11

Governments exist to promote the virtue of their citizens; therefore, Aristotle says, communities should be organized with this goal in mind above all others. For citizens to find happiness, they must be able to freely and openly pursue virtue.


Men engage in factional conflict through fear, both when they have committed injustice and are frightened of paying the penalty, and when they are about to suffer injustice and wish to forestall it.

Aristotle, Book 5, Chapter 3

Fear leads to wrongdoing. Good citizens are those who are not fearful, according to Aristotle. A government's leaders must pay attention to the emotional climate in their realm to gauge the mood of citizens and minimize fear.


The whole and all things are not something small, but are composed of small things.

Aristotle, Book 5, Chapter 8

Aristotle says regimes need to pay attention to even the small transgressions in their city. One of these may plant the seeds of revolution.


The basic premise of the democratic sort of regime is freedom.

Aristotle, Book 6, Chapter 2

Freedom means people are allowed to make choices that fit with their understanding of virtue. Without freedom, Aristotle believes, there can be no democracy.


Let us presuppose this much, that the best way of life both separately for each individual and in common for cities is that accompanied by virtue—virtue that is equipped to such an extent as to allow them to take part in actions that accord with virtue.

Aristotle, Book 7, Chapter 2

Aristotle reminds readers that virtue must be the guiding principle for all actions in a city. To his mind, virtue is the only route to a fulfilling life. It involves the pursuit of the higher good and a deeper consideration for community.


The soul is divided into two parts, of which the one has reason itself, while the other does not have it in itself, but is capable of obeying reason.

Aristotle, Book 7, Chapter 14

A democracy or polity prioritizes education and reason, says Aristotle. Education and mastery of "the soul" is crucial for a government's success; people can be taught to become more virtuous, thus strengthening the city. An oligarchy places less value on education and mastery of "the soul."


One ought not even consider that a particular citizen belongs to himself, but rather that all belong to the city; for each is part of the city.

Aristotle, Book 8, Chapter 1

Aristotle believes citizens should not behave as individuals—in other words, selfishly; instead they must always put their community's best interests first. When people work toward common goals, a community will thrive and achieve virtue.

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