Plato And Aristotle: Who Is Fit To Rule

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Since the antiquity, the question of who is fit to rule has been examined. When it comes to deciding who should rule, philosophers come with different views. From Plato, Aristotle, Polybius to Cicero, all have their own vision of how the rulers should be. This paper will argue that Plato suggests philosopher kings should rule whereas Aristotle proposes the middle class as ruling entity. For Polybius, society needs a mixed government and Cicero recommends replicating the Roman system.
First, when it comes to answering the question of who should rule, Plato suggests, "philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize.” (The republic) On one hand, contrarily to politicians that are lead
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For Aristotle, stability and efficiency is key to the government. The government needs to ensure that a middle class exists that is separate from the upper and lower classes. To Aristotle, the middle class embodies moderation and justice is about proportionality. Aristotle reintroduces the notion of “Golden Mean” as a balance between extremes, one of deficiency and one of excess. Aristotle describes the differences between classes in that people of a lower class may aspire to achieve happiness through pleasure, as pleasure is more difficult to attain for them. He goes on to explain that deficiencies and excesses destroy moral qualities. Only the mean preserved it. The “Golden Mean” reaffirms the balance needed in life. Every citizen will be required to rule, and to be ruled in turn. However, the true people in authority will be those who are superior in virtue because they are the best and wisest people. The role of the multitude is to decide in matters of deliberation and judgment. They are to elect the officials but not to hold office. Aristotle reasoning is that a combined multitude is more excellent, than any one man, or any few good men. Their virtue is more excellent, their perception is more excellent, and they are less likely to be persuaded to do wrong. He goes on to compare them to a feast. A feast is better when many people …show more content…
For him, human being are power seekers and despotic and all simple forms of government, kingship, aristocracy and democracy are unstable. He explains his view through the anacyclosis. According to this theory, monarchy first arises with wise and earned kingship and develops into tyranny, which is the rule of one person’s self interest. This is replaced through revolution by aristocracy, the rule of the best men in public interest. Over time it also degenerates into oligarchy, rule by a few in self-interest. The next political form to emerge is democracy, rule by all in public interest. Yet again it deteriorates to give place to ochlocracy or mob rule lead by charismatic leaders. The circle of anacyclosis in then completed and will begin anew with the establishment of monarchy. In Polybius view, the only way to prevent this circle to repeat itself is to establish a mixed constitution. The mixed constitution incorporates elements of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. The three elements balance each other out and none of the elements holds enough power to become corrupted and degenerate into its debased form. To illustrate his point, Polybius uses the Roman Empire as an example of mixed constitution. At the head of the Roman Empire we find two elected consuls that carry out the decisions of the Senate, lead the army, and generally hold the highest executive authority. The consuls

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