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Who is the father of political science?

There is never a single iota of doubt that Aristotle is called ‘The Father of Political science’. But to understand why Aristotle is called, so we have to indulge in the political ideologies of Aristotle, his contribution in the field of politics and how he established the basic notion of political science in our world.

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher. He is supremely regarded as one of the most influential ancient thinkers. His impeccable benefaction in literature, philosophy along with his political thoughts and ideologies had brought him to a place where no one can touch his versatile and pragmatic diction. 

Aristotle was born during 384 BCE in Stagira. His father namely, Nichomachus was a famous court physician to Macedonia’s King Amyntas. From this started Aristotle’s prolonged association with the Court, which significantly influenced the life. So from this, we can presume that from the very beginning, he had a strong political background because of his father. All these influenced his political thoughts.

He was the man of science and logic. He was always prone to describe his surroundings with logic and practicality. His monumental work that bought him the fame of ‘The Father of Political Science’ is ‘Politics’. ‘Politics’ is the powerful work that brings into existence the justification of comprehensive institution like State, how the role of politics is limited to only bring about the virtuous life of citizens of a country.

The notable books that more or less encompass the whole political theories and ideologies of Aristotle can be limited to 1. Nicomachean Ethics 2. The Politics 3. Constitution of Athens.

The major political theories of Aristotle are 1. Theory of State, 2. Theory of Citizenship, 3. Theory of Slavery 4. Theory of constitution 5. Theory of Property 6. Theory of Justice 7. Theory of Revolution

Theory of State

The basic notion of the theory of State is that “state is highest of all association”. Though Plato treats State as a big family, for Aristotle, State is not a family but family of families. To him, the authority of statesman has to be different from the jurisdiction of the father. The principle of families cannot be applied in case of State. The State should try to see unity, not through uniformity but unity in diversity. The laws made by the State should take care of multiple interests and will try to achieve a fair balance between competing interests. Aristotle was the first person to segregate personal from State or political.

Theory of Citizenship

In the opinion of citizenship, Aristotle said that “citizenship is the legal status of a person with respect to state”. He excluded women, children, old people and slaves from citizenship. He banned older adults because of their health condition they may not be able to play the required role. He kept children out of the equation because of their immaturity to provide a proper contribution to the State. Women were excluded because they were confined in the household works of the family and slaves lack a reason to make law. In the condition of being a citizen, he perpetuates the idea that only natural-born adult male possessing property qualifies to be citizen According to him citizenship is duty or responsibility to participate in affairs of the State, i.e. 1. Function of Law Making or legislative and 2. Function of Adjudication of Law or Judiciary.

Theory of slavery

In the theory of slavery, Aristotle opines that “slavery is natural and useful”. Aristotle justifies natural slaves rather than legal slaves. He believed that those who possess reason and courage are masters by nature and those who lack it are slave by nature. Aristotle suggested that nature has created two types of a person; those who are physically active and those who are mentally healthy. Those who are physically active should involve themselves in the task of production, and those who are mentally healthy should participate in the affairs of State. To him, some persons are dependent on others to decide for themselves; such a person is not even the master of their slave.

Aristotle predominantly justified the concept of slavery because of their usefulness. They are useful for masters as masters will have leisure time to develop his virtue. Hence master should treat his slave correctly. Since the slave is physically active, he can work for a longer duration. Therefore they are useful for the economic system. Masters will get time to participate in the affairs of State, so the concept of slavery is good for State. Even the notion of slavery is indispensable to the slave himself because he does not have a reason; he will require someone else to guide him. In the company of good master, the slave can develop virtue. If the slave acquires the virtue of reason and courage, the master should leave him free.

However, in the age of Human Rights, we cannot justify institutions like slavery, no matter how much they would be useful to whomsoever. 

Theory of constitution

Aristotle studied 158 constitutions, and based on this; he gave the primary forms of the constitution. To him, though the monarchy or rule of philosopher-king is best yet not the best practicable. Polity or rule of the middle class is the best workable form of government. It represents the golden mean of oligarchy and democracy. Democracy is extreme because it is the rule of too many, which means the State of ignorant and weak.

Theory of property

To him, the property is of two types; animate and inanimate. It is a product of one’s labour and therefore, legitimate. In the concept of common ownership and common use, everyone’s property is no one’s responsibility. Therefore it is not supported by Aristotle. In the case of common ownership and individual use, it is illogical, unpractical, and if it is practised, it will be very exploitative. But the notion of individual property and common use is supported by Aristotle because it is more productive, also the source of motivation to work hard. It also will be the source of charity and generosity. To him, men of reason mean men of property, so it is suitable for stability.

So we can conclusively argue that Aristotle first gave the theories on an empirical basis. His classificationAristotle, comparative analysis and empirical method bought him the fame of ‘The Father of Political Science’.

Author: Frank Taylor


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