Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. and died in 322 B.C. He was a disciple of Plato and had studied in an academy established by Plato for at least 17 years. He is called the greatest of Plato’s disciple and was inspired by Plato. Like Plato, he too was influenced by the prevailing degradation in the Greek city states, but as he was a conservative thinker, we find justifications for the then prevailing evils in the Greek social and political institutions.
Aristotle believed in the truth of history and he took Plato’s concept of history as a guide.
Obviously, Aristotle was less imaginative and more scientific in comparison to Plato.
Aristotle was a very learned man. Aristotle has written on almost every branch of knowledge, but his most important work is his book ‘Politics’. His knowledge was almost encyclopedic, and because of his extensive study of various Political concepts he is called the ‘Father of Political Science’
State according to Aristotle
Aristotle’s Politics deals with the nature, ends and objectives of the state. According to Aristotle, the origin of State lay in man’s political sociability. In other words, Aristotle believed that man was a political animal and therefore the State is a manifestation of man’s political nature.
In Politics, he has tried to trace the growth of the State, and he has come to the conclusion that, the State develops naturally and the State is a natural institution, which has evolved through stages.
Aristotle considers the State as synonymous to man’s political nature and therefore he thinks that the State in a way is prior to the individual because man without the State cannot lead a self sufficient life and he who lived without State is either above humanity or below it.
The State according to him was neither the creation of a divine power nor the creation of a superior force. The State according to Aristotle has not come for the simple life of mankind; rather it has evolved for the good life of the individuals.
The state according to Aristotle has grown through three stages.
The first stage of its development is represented by family. Aristotle emphasized that though family is prior to the State, in time, the State is prior to the family in its nature. The family in other words, was only a means while the State was the end.
The second stage of State’s development is to be found in the villages. The village which consists of various families and tribes is greater than family. The villages try to fulfill the various needs of mankind.
In other words, both families and villages are limited to the functions of fulfilling basically the economic needs of mankind. The City State is the last stage of development of the State and is the highest stage in the development of the State. It is highest because it seeks good life which is much beyond mere fulfillment of economic needs of mankind.
Functions of the State according to Aristotle
He held that the State has not come into existence to fulfill the material needs of mankind, rather it has come into existence to promote a life of virtue and morality and this is the ultimate and most important function of the state.
After analyzing Aristotle’s views on origin, nature and function of the State, we come to the conclusion that he treated State as a natural growth which has come into existence and developed into its full fledged form because of inherent political nature of mankind.
His ideas of an all comprehensive State gets support in the modern welfare States, which believe in serving the individual from cradle to grave believing in the fact that the individual can survive and seek fulfillment only under the guardianship of a good State.
Aristotle treats the State as the highest community or as the highest association and he very strongly believes that State came into existence and is continuing for the good life of mankind.