The constant rise and fall of individuals and states in the vision of Aristotle Essay

                                                    The concept of state

The ‘state’ concept is susceptible to multiple definitions, depending on the historical era considered as a landmark and doctrinal positions. The existence of the state in contemporary society is an indisputable reality.

As a subject of multidisciplinary studies, the state can’t be analyzed separately from the other two concepts that are strongly connected, the power and the law; only pedagogical motivations justify their apparently distinct consideration, by focusing rather on one of them.

The ‘state’ term comes from the word ‘status’, from Latin, which initially meant a state of thing, and in the legal area, a situation of a person who is part of a community, having in common a set of values and which gives him certain rights and obligations.

Particularly in the social and political organization of the Middle Ages, the ‘states’ were representing social categories that have had a specific role in the exercise of power. This word was used to denote the fortresses, the Roman type republics, Oriental states and other forms of political organization of society.

This does not mean that the early stage of existence of the state have been attempts to substantiate clear ideas about the state. Such attempts of treating the state’s problem can be found, for example, at the thinkers of antiquity, such as Aristotle and Plato. The actual meaning of the term apparently was first used only in XVI century, by Nicolas Machiavelli, describing the state of a human collectivity governed by public power.

The definitions of the concept of state start from the idea that human beings are associated in states to meet a common purpose. There are differences between these definitions regarding this purpose: the liberty of all members of the group or the good (or moral justice) or the peaceful coexistence of the members of a group or getting the power.

In general, the state is regarded as a form of social organization, which guarantees against the dangers from outside and from inside, his own safety and that of individuals who live in it. The positive right ignores the analysis of the origin and legitimacy of the state, limiting to its analysis as a legal entity.

                                                      The role of state

Concerns regarding the analysis of state, its power, the causes that are responsible for its origins and the function accomplished by the state, appeared since Antiquity. They known various changes, as the state itself modified; many of the contemporary definitions and explanations are not adapted at all to old historical realities.

Among the first thinkers who have examined human groups and the ratio between individual and society, Aristotle starts from the premise that men is a social being (zoon politikon), who can not exist outside the community. The polis, the fortress in which people were forming groups, is different from all the other forms of communities known in nature by their own peculiarities of political authority.

Aristotle shows that the government represents the conscience of individuals belonging to society for the common good. He considered that there is a purposeful policy of the essential human nature, objective and necessary; the man is not what he should be unless he is governed by the laws and if he stays in contact with the others, through perfect legal relations, which are ensured only by the polis.

But the polis on the Greek Antiquity could match such an analysis, but the subsequent evolution of human organizational structures has introduced new data.

The empire and later, the Roman Republic outlined the importance of power inside of the state organization, but also his fragility in face of threats from outside the community.

Being an extremely complex social category, the notion of state is used in several ways. The state represents the main organizer of the activity of a human community that establishes general rules and a requirement of conduct, organize the implementation or enforcement of these rules, and, if necessary, resolves disputes that occur in society.

                                               The concept of freedom

As we can find out from the work ‘The Athenian State’ of Aristotle, it was a time when Solon introduced among political crimes the citizens lack of participation because “of indifference or sloth” to the daily activities. The one who was found guilty was deprived of honors and expelled.

It is interesting the way in which Solon thought this problem. The participatory democracy assumes certain responsibilities that must be assumed by citizens in order not to put in danger this form of governance.

The policy option of each individual is very important for a majority that confers to the government the authority to take decisions, while being able to justify them through the trust of the electoral conference. Without this generally manifested option, it couldn’t be invoked as a justification of decisions that are less or more accurate. And this issue would significantly diminish the power’s authority.

 Therefore, the citizen receives certain rights and individual liberties, which, if they are not used, the state receives the right to withdraw them, even to deny his condition of a simple citizen. There is a certain perspective regarding the freedom of opinion, freedom to vote, freedom of word, but there isn’t the freedom to choose or opt for participation.

This enclosure can finally lead to the obstruction and cancellation of all other liberties. Basically, the Athenian citizen must exercise his democratic rights; otherwise the state has the possibility to cancel these rights.

The question is if in this case we may still talk about freedom. Because, as Friedman said, “no one can force you to be free. This is your job. “Any constraint in this sense means a cancellation of liberty.

                                                                References

Ackrill J. L. 2001. Essays on Plato and Aristotle, Oxford University Press, USA
Adler, Mortimer J. (1978). Aristotle for Everybody. New York: Macmillan.  A popular exposition for the general reader.
Bakalis Nikolaos. 2005. Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics Analysis and Fragments, Trafford Publishing ISBN 1-4120-4843-5
Barnes J. 1995. The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, Cambridge University Press
Boche?ski, I. M. (1951). Ancient Formal Logic. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company.
Bolotin, David (1998). An Approach to Aristotle’s Physics: With Particular Attention to the Role of His Manner of Writing. Albany: SUNY Press. A contribution to our understanding of how to read Aristotle’s scientific works.
Burnyeat, M. F. et al. 1979. Notes on Book Zeta of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Oxford: Sub-faculty of Philosophy
Chappell, V. 1973. Aristotle’s Conception of Matter, Journal of Philosophy 70: 679-696
Code, Alan. 1995. Potentiality in Aristotle’s Science and Metaphysics, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 76
Frede, Michael. 1987. Essays in Ancient Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press