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Aristotle, like Plato, was very interested in the different types of government. He devotes Books 4 through 8 of Politics to the different kinds of government, which ones are best, and what the “ideal city” is. He criticizes many forms of government, such as kingship, tyranny, aristocracy, oligarchy, and democracy. He doesn’t really agree with Plato’s ideas on government, but they both do agree on the fact that they don’t like democracy. This is surprising to me as an American because we hold democracy in such high esteem. As I continued to read, I realize that Aristotle’s definition of democracy is different from what I would consider modern democracy to be.
Aristotle uses democracy to mean rule by the people, which are mostly the poor, in their own interest. He faults this because they do not have the skills to rule a country so the country is weak and disorganized because too many people are trying to run it and they are not qualified. It is pretty clear to me that modern American democracy is different from this. I perceive modern democracy to be that the masses have a chance to elect officials to office, who they think are capable, and then those chosen officials fulfill the duties of running the country. The general masses do not have much to do with the day to day running of the country. They pick the person or persons to do it, and then those people take care of things.
I had to read the sections about government a couple times until I understood it. What I understand is that Aristotle focuses on three forms of government: oligarchy, democracy, and polity. When I saw the word polity over and over again, I really didn’t understand it. I had never seen that word before, but he used it many times, and it was a focus. I began to realize that polity was to Aristotle a word he used for an additional form of government. Once I understood this, I thought it was really a great idea.
It seems that oli...
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