Aristocracy in Aristotle's Politics: Justice, Governance, and Critique


The word Politics is essentially derived from the Greek word Polis which means City, a society or association of people of a particular place to live well and lead a life which is supported by the government of the country. Hence in order to derive the best meaning of politics as propounded by Aristotle in the 384 BCE, the obvious classification of cities was held and it was stated that it is the classification of Polis or cities that mark the nature of politics of a country (Aristotle Bks. 3-4).

For the purpose of this essay, the Aristocracy system of partnership and/or sharing of Aristotle’s politics has been chosen. Among many other theories of partnership to understand the nature of Polis, Aristocracy essentially marks the establishment of Oligarchy, a plural system of justice that believes in 'rule of the best for the best' (Aristotle Bks. 3-4).


In this essay, we shall propound a thesis on the concept of Aristocracy system of parentship and critically dissect the same with argument and counter arguments with the aim of deciding whether the system of Oligarchy or Aristocracy as classified by Aristotle in the 384 BCE, is just or unjust, good or bad for the people in general and We shall dissect the concept of the same in connection to justice. In order to balance the same, we shall critically evaluate the disadvantages of an Aristocracy and propose a counter argument with the sharing system of Polity as propounded by Aristotle and establish how it might be better than Aristocracy. Again, the same shall be countered by the previous concept to conclude this instant essay.

Thesis Statement

For the purpose of this essay, the parentship and/or sharing system of Aristocracy has been chosen and this is the idea system to rule a city because a civil society should only promote nobility and virtue of the highest orders and Aristocracy is the ‘rule of the best for the best’.

Argument – I

The relationship of Aristocracy to Justice – Does Aristocracy provide a civil society with better justice system?

The concept of Aristocracy as has been propounded by Aristotle, provides with the highest order for the social justice. Even though the concept of Aristocracy is essentially linked with the primary concept of Oligarchy, it is quite different from Aristocracy. The partnership concept of Aristocracy in politics shares the idea of having the best ability above all or the ‘Rule of the Best’ (Aristotle Bks. 30-4). In case of Aristocracy, equality of human beings is not considered to be a valid form of social justice and it is only through Aristocracy that a society can shine the brightest.

For the purpose of this argument, it can be said that as per Aristotle, the ‘rule of the best’ or the brightest shall provide the greatest result that this human kind has ever witnessed. Aristocracy is a form of Oligarchy which is essentially based on money or wealth and the primary aim of this type of Polis is to understand and maintain the highest order of virtue in a society. In simple terms, Aristocracy can be compared to a modern-day Company infrastructure where it is ruled by the board of directors (Aristotle Bks. 3-4).

The concept of Aristocracy is essentially good for the justice system as this form of Polis identifies the ruler by their ability of being superlative than others. According to the basic concept of Aristocracy, a society or a nation should be ruled by those, who have been regarded as noble, good and maintained a virtue of the highest order. The ruler should also be intellectually rich and skilled with many abilities (Aristotle Bks. 5-8).

Originated in the ancient Greece, the concept of Aristocracy essentially preserves member of councils who check the rise of any dictator and it essentially restraints the concept of Anarchy.

The smaller number of people as leader essentially increases the efficiency of the government and provides speedy justice to people unlike the other forms of government where justice is either corrupted (Anarchy) or delayed beyond reasonable time so much so that the meaning of justice is essentially deteriorated (democracy or Polity). Hence, a dispute or conflict of the society can be easily and readily solved by an intellectual member of society and they can also provide with newer perspective which is beyond the grasp of the general people and also, Aristocracy is essentially good to solve any kind of Military conflict. Thus, Aristocracy is a better Polity to serve justice in time (Aristotle Bks. 3-4; Aristotle Bks. 5-8).

Argument II

Critical Evaluation of Aristocracy in relation to structure and function of a Polis

According to the basic concept of Aristocracy, this form of government as propounded by Aristotle provides leadership in the hands of the few who are extremely qualified and considered to be of noble quality by the people of the society. Hence, leadership invested in the hands of few highly qualified people with a strong member of councils shall resist the form of hierarchy that can be seen in a Kingship (Aristotle Bks. 3-4) but it shall also reserve the advantages of a Kingship that serves for the common good of the people.

Thus, if we critically dissect and evaluate the concept of Aristocracy, it can be said that a governmental form with less member of councils is always more effective and as it is not restricted to the system of hierarchy, it seems absolute and fair in the eyes of the people. Hence, for the purpose of maintaining structure and function of a Polis, Aristocracy is the right choice of government.

Argument III

Critically Evaluation of the Political Strength of Aristocracy

As it has been discussed above, Aristocracy is the governmental rule by the best members of the society and not the average people of the society. Hence, in terms of political strength, Aristocracy provides an effective member of council who is best at deciding disputes of any kind that is related to the political system of the country. With smaller members on council, there are less conflicts while deciding a necessary dispute and hence, Aristocracy essentially provides with speedy remedy to the any kind of political dispute such as relation with other countries or any kind of military dispute during the time of war (Aristotle Bks 3-4).

Counter Argument

The partnership and/or sharing system of ‘Polity’ or Democracy is the best system for the greater good.

Even though there can be lots of arguments in favour of Aristocracy being the best kind of governmental system with more efficiency and speedy terms of justice, it cannot be denied that Aristocracy also states that equality among human being is a myth. Aristocracy essentially denies the equality among people and it can resolve quickly to slavery (Aristotle Bks. I-II). Aristocracy is controlled by the noble people of the society but who decides their nobility? Aristocracy is an extreme form of governmental system that either be best or the worst kind of system. While a compact member of council can provide with speedy terms of justice, it can also be ineffective while regarding purpose for greater good (Aristotle Bks. 3-4).

Hence, considering such arguments, it can be said that Polity or the concept of Democracy as classified by Aristotle can considered to be the best kind of governmental system that provides equality among people. It might be the rule of the average, but it does not discriminate and a more stable form of government that does not resolve to any kind of dehumanization which is an obvious possibility in case of Aristocracy (Aristotle Bks. 5-8). Unlike Aristocracy, the actions of leaders of a Polity or democracy is checked by different authorities and separation of power is reserved in this kind of governmental system. Also, democracy is not ruled by the few privileged classes unlike Aristocracy.

In terms of war, Democracy or Polity provides a far more stable and rich governmental function as it is a welfare society where money is not the primary aim unlike Aristocracy. Aristocracy is far more prone to wars and military conflicts and disputes as there are not checks and accountability for their actions and Aristocracy often does not regard the welfare of the society at large as well (Aristotle Bks. 3-4).

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Final Argument

Considering the both sides of the argument and counter argument, what would be the best kind of governmental rule?

Considering the abovementioned arguments and counter arguments herein, it can be said that Aristocracy alone can never be good for the purpose of ruling a society with welfare of the people at large in mind. Even though Aristocracy provides the nobility in the ruler, there are no standard measures of nobility or virtue and the concept of being an intellectual change with time (Aristotle Bks. 3-4).

On the other hand, the concept of polity of democracy is also flawed as it provides with the idea that a society should be ruled by the average people. Once intellectual abilities or the civil nobilities is derived from a society as a whole, it becomes a mediocre country with no aim or strive for development. While welfare of the society at large is important, Polity can strive for stability more than change and hence it becomes more rigid in characteristics and it becomes tough to change a Polity.

Thus, in order to provide a balance between these two concepts of Aristotle as propounded by him in 384 BCE, it can be said a society that contains the elements of Polity and Aristocracy shall strive the best. On one hand, it would be a society that keep the welfare of the general people in mind and the leaders of the government are chosen by people but on the other hand, it also selects the intellectual candidates who are ought to be chosen by the people as well. Hence, it provides a suitable balance between rigidity and flexibility that provides the best solution for an ideal governmental system (Aristotle Bks. 3-4).


Hence, from the abovementioned discussion on the Aristocracy system of governmental form as propounded by Aristotle, it can be said that no absolute form of government with only one element can proved to be good for the society at large and in order to invoke a better and more organized society or Polis, it is essential that traits of different kinds of sharing system of Aristotle’s politics are to be gathered that it shall only can provide with the best kind of political system for a government herein.


Aristotle Bks. I-II

Aristotle Bks. 3-4

Aristotle Bks. 5-8

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