Politics of Plato and Aristotle

To compare the political theories of two great philosophers of
politics is to first examine each theory in depth. Plato is regarded
by many experts as the first writer of political philosophy, and
Aristotle is recognized as the first political scientist. These two
men were great thinkers. They each had ideas of how to improve
existing societies during their individual lifetimes. It is necessary
to look at several areas of each theory to seek the difference in

The main focus of Plato is a perfect society. He creates a
blueprint for a utopian society, in his book The Republic, out of his
disdain for the tension of political life (Hacker, 24). This blueprint
was a sketch of a society in which the problems he thought were
present in his society would be eased (Hacker 24). Plato sought to
cure the afflictions of both human society and human personality
(Hacker 24). Essentially what Plato wants to achieve is a perfect

Aristotle, unlike Plato, is not concerned with perfecting
society. He just wants to improve on the existing one. Rather than
produce a blueprint for the perfect society, Aristotle suggested, in
his work, The Politics, that the society itself should reach for the
best possible system that could be attained (Hacker 71). Aristotle
relied on the deductive approach, while Aristotle is an example of an
inductive approach (Hacker 71). Utopia is a solution in abstract, a
solution that has no concrete problem (Hacker 76). There is no solid
evidence that all societies are in need of such drastic reformation as
Plato suggests (Hacker 76). Aristotle discovers that the best possible
has already been obtained (Hacker 76). All that can be done is to try
to improve on the existing one.

Plato's utopia consists of three distinct, non-hereditary
class systems (Hacker 32). The Guardians consist of non ruling
Guardians and ruling Guardians. The non-rulers are a higher level of
civil servants and the ruling is the society's policy makers (Hacker
32). Auxilaries are soldiers and minor civil servants (Hacker 32).
Finally the Workers, are composed of farmers and artisans, most
commonly unskilled laborers (Hacker 32). The Guardians are to be wise
and good rulers. It is important that the rulers who emerge must be a
class of craftsmen who are public-spirited in temperament and skilled
in the arts of government areas (Hacker 33). The guardians are to be
placed in a position in which they are absolute rulers. They are
supposed to be the select few who know what is best for society
(Hacker 33).

Aristotle disagrees with the idea of one class holding
discontinuing political power (Hacker 85). The failure to allow
circulation between classes excludes those men who may be ambitious,
and wise, but are not in the right class of society to hold any type
of political power (Hacker 85). Aristotle looks upon this ruling class
system as an ill-conceived political structure (Hacker 86). He quotes
"It is a further objection that he deprives his Guardians even of
happiness, maintaining that happiness of the whole state which should
be the object of legislation," ultimately he is saying that Guardians
sacrifice their happiness for power and control. Guardians who lead
such a strict life will also think it necessary to impose the same
strict lifestyle on the society it governs (Hacker 86).

Aristotle puts a high value on moderation (Hacker 81). Many
people favor moderation because it is part-liberal and
part-conservative. There is so much of Plato's utopia that is
undefined and it is carried to extremes that no human being could
ever fulfill its requirements (Hacker 81). Aristotle believes that
Plato is underestimating the qualitative change in human character and
personality that would have to take place in order to achieve his
utopia (Hacker 81). Plato chose to tell the reader of his Republic how
men would act and what their attitudes would be in a perfect society
(Hacker 81). Aristotle tries to use real men in the real world in an
experimental fashion to foresee how and in which ways they can be
improved (Hacker 81).

Both Plato and Aristotle agree that justice exists in an
objective sense: that is, it dictates a belief that the good life
should be provided for all individuals no matter how high or low their
social status (Hacker 91). "In democracies, for example, justice is
considered to mean equality, in oligarchies, again inequality in the