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At Aristotle's Heart: The Possibility of Achieving the Good Life

Anyone who is cityless by nature is either subhuman or superhuman, for the animals do not need the city, and the gods do not need the city. The city is a natural entity for human society.

The city contributes to the possibility of absolute justice, sought by human beings through political interaction in the city. Based on his concept of absolute justice, Aristotle finds that there are three right forms of government--monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Each of these can also degenerate into a lesser form: monarchy into tyranny, aristocracy into oligarchy, and democracy into mob-rule. Aristotle can be considered a democratic theorist in several respects. One of his abiding concerns is with the constitution of the state and the agreement it involves between the ruler and the ruled. Aristotle sees the state as a natural development, but he also sees it as a voluntary association of human beings based on the fact that man is a political animal and that people thus come together because of common interest to the degree that it contributes to the good life of each person:

The good life is indeed their chief end, both communally and individually; but they form and continue to maintain a political association for the sake of life itself (Saunders 187).

This voluntary but necessary association is governed by the rule of law. At its center, Aristotle's ideal state, whatever its specific form of government, maintains its legitimacy by serving the good life for the people as a whole. Aristotle makes a distinction between the relationship of master over slave to that of ruler over the ruled in the state. The master acts for his own benefit and has the right to do so, while the ruler should act for the good of the state and not for his own benefit. The constitution that supports this idea is the constitution that is acceptable:

It is clear then that those constitutions which aim at the common good are right, as being in acc...

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At Aristotle's Heart: The Possibility of Achieving the Good Life. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:16, November 29, 2015, from
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