Plato and Aristotle’s Regimes: Republic and Politics.

There might be some confusion concerning the nature of politics and the type of regimes. Today we tend to think of a number of regimes, although many of them are simply the same regime with a different title. We call the government in England a Constitutional Monarchy, yet it simply is a Monarchy. China we say is a Communist regime, yet really all the political form of Communism is Oligarchy. All the regimes currently in use today can be boiled down to a list of just a handful. These regimes were originally defined and stated by Plato and Aristotle, two classical Greek philosophers who concerned themselves heavily with the nature of the polis. To get an idea of what the regimes are, this essay will attempt to outline the various forms of government as laid down by both men. In order to deal with the two authors it will be prudent to describe Plato’s regimes first followed by Aristotle.

In Book VIII of the Republic, Plato speaks of the degenerate regimes after having spent considerable time describing an Aristocracy. Aristocracy in the classical sense is not rule by the few, or rule by the wealthy. Aristocracy for Plato meant rule by the virtuous. The ideal city would be ruled by a Philosopher king, but because no philosopher will want to rule in the city there must be a handful of virtuous individuals willing to rule.

The first degenerate regime that flows directly from Aristocracy is Timocracy. This form of government is rarely spoken of and is largely forgotten compared to the remaining regimes. Timocracy is the rule by the honorable, or more simply a Warlord. Timocracy comes about when instead of concerning oneself with virtue itself, one concerns themselves with the seeking of honor. The primary means of attaining honor is on the battlefield, and thus the idea of a military leader leading the city falls into a Timocratic regime.

From the Timocrat comes the Oligarch, the son of the man who is more concerned about his honor than about wealth. When honor is lost and you have nothing else, then you are empty. The Oligarch as a result is a stingy person who spends little but acquires much. Oligarchy is defined by a few very wealthy individuals ruling the city over the less fortunate and often impoverished inhabitants. Oligarchy is the most popular form of government and the wealthy are often times viewed as the best individuals and therefore most worthy of ruling. Today Oligarchy is often confused with Aristocracy due to their elitist tendencies. With the fall of Oligarchy, so goes the way of the virtuous regimes. Oligarchy, Timocracy and Aristocracy represent the various parts of the soul for Plato, and also different virtues or, in the case of Aristocracy, virtue itself. The three parts of the soul that correspond with the three regimes are: Rational part with Aristocracy, the Spirited part with Timocracy and the Appetitive part with Oligarchy.

The first regime lacking virtue is democracy, or rule by the people. The democrat comes about because of the lack of equality in the Oligarchy. In the Oligarchy limits are placed on how much one can spend, preventing the democrat from being allowed to do as he sees fit. This coupled with the lack of equality brings about the Democracy. Democracy is ruled on two principles: Freedom and Equality. Because of its nature Democracy lacks virtue but it is not totally depraved. Democracy is the best possible regime while Aristocracy is the regime most wished for.

Finally Plato ends his account of the regimes with Tyranny, the most dreaded and depraved form of government developed by mankind. Tyranny is the exact opposite of Aristocracy. The tyrant comes to rule because he desires all. Tyranny is characterized by the lack of concern for one’s subjects and a desire to obtain all one wishes for. The tyrant cares nothing for his people or his city, only for his own selfish gains. Where the Aristocrat rules for the sake of the city, the tyrant rules for the sake of self. With the end of the analysis of the tyrant and tyranny comes the end of Plato’s discussion of the regimes within the Republic.

Aristotle does not entirely agree with Plato’s assessment of regimes in the Republic. His Politics is largely a rebuttal of the arguments made in the Republic. Aristotle defines three chief regimes: Kingship, Aristocracy and Polity. These regimes all have a degenerate regime corresponding with it: Tyranny, Oligarchy and Democracy. One will immediately identify that Aristotle lacks the Timocratic regime and instead replaces it with Polity, a mixture of Oligarchy and Democracy.

Kingship is a fairly self explanatory regime, for Aristotle it is the most desired regime but due to its ability to quickly turn into tyranny it is not the best possible regime. Kingship is simple, it is the rule by one person who is king. In the Kingship there is only one citizen and that is the King himself. This can be compared in some manner to Plato’s discussion of the Philosopher King, although the king in such a regime need not necessarily be a Philosopher but not a Tyrant either.[1]

Aristocracy is essentially the same regime for both Plato and Aristotle, the rule by the virtuous.

Polity as said above is a mix between Oligarchy and Democracy. Depending on the rulers it can either be more heavily Oligarchic or more heavily Democratic. The difference between the two being that an Oligarchic Polity would be ruled by a few selected wealthy individuals, while the Democratic Polity would be ruled by the people in general. This regime is what Aristotle calls the best possible regime because it involves the rule by the middling class. The middling class often makes up the most of all inhabitants in a city and thus the regime which allows for them to be citizens allows for the most participation in the operation of the city. Many often compare this to a Republic, but that is a false comparison as will be shown briefly.[2]

Oligarchy and Democracy are the same as in Plato and therefore require no additional attention. It should be noted, however, that Aristotle defines four types of democratic regimes unlike Plato. The first, considered the best and the oldest by Aristotle is democracy ruled by the farming sort. The second, similar to the first, is based around those who are herdsmen. The herding Democracy is exemplified by it’s military capabilities, as Aristotle states, “they are particularly well exercised with respect to their dispositions as well as useful with respect to their bodies and capable of living in the open.”  The third sort is made up of the middling class, or the merchants and exists in the city.[3]  This democracy is prone to more individuals being involved in the regime because of the proximity of living in the city. The fourth democracy laid out by Aristotle is where all are included in citizenship. Citizenship for Aristotle means those who are able to participate in the ruling of the polis. Therefore, this last sort admits people into the rank of citizenship who are unsuited for ruling the polis, including slaves. In this instance, slaves would apply to anyone who is unable to rule themselves and not the slaves who have been conquered in war.

Book Four of Aristotle’s Politics offers us another list of democracies, this time five. The first democracy in book four is based on the equality between the poor and rich, where neither class is preeminent in society. The second is where, “the offices are filled on the basis of assessments…”[4] The next two regimes are where those of unquestioned descent, and those who are citizens fill the offices but the law rules. The fourth is where the multitude, not the law, rules. The fifth democracy is similar in make up to the previous democracies except that the multitude, not the law, rule.

The best regime, and best way of life according to Aristotle are the same. The best way of life is the mirror image of the best regime. While Kingship is the regime most desired, and Polity the best attainable regime it is the mixed regime that is the best regime. The mixed regime contains elements of each individual regime, just as the best person is a mixture of all the different virtues. The regime must incorporate virtue, the farming class and the middling class. It is this regime, the mixed regime, which must properly be defined as a Republic. A Polity as stated before is a regime of Oligarchy and Democracy, while a Republic is a mixed regime with multiple regimes tied into it. Take for example the American regime, which is not a Polity at all but is a Republic. We have the element of Kingship in the President, we have the element of Democracy in the House of Representatives, we have the element of Oligarchy in the Senate and we have Aristocracy in the Supreme Court. Such a regime is the best possible regime because it allows for the virtues of each regime to be apart of the city; just as the the virtuous person participates in each individual virtue, so does the city participate in the virtues exemplified by the various regimes in a mixed regime.

Aristotle’s Politics Book III

Aristotle’s Politics Book IV

Aristotle’s Politics Book VI


Aristotle’s Politics Book IV

Black waist trainer

47 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This article is helpful in a way for comparing Plato’s ideal governments and also Aristotle’s ideal goverments. It is also helpful if you want to know other forms of governments as well as unused forms of governments. I would recommend this article for anyone who is interested in politics and the types of governments we have today.I would also recommend this article to anyone who is interested in knowing the ancient ideal governments.

    • thanks this is a good essay for comparing the two philosophers

  2. What was the fourth sort of democracy according to Aristotle?

    It seems to me that while democracy does allow for all the different virtues (not that aristocracy or philosopher-monarchy would prohibit them, right?) it also allows for the lowest elements of society, treating virtue and vice as equals. In the soul, Reason should govern the Will (timocracy) and the Passions (democracy). If virtue does exist within a democratic soul, it does so as fruit trees in the wilderness, bearing much less fruit than those same trees planted in an orchard and nourished by a farmer (reason).

  3. Succint bu wonderful!

  4. Succint but wonderful!

  5. Now I have the idea how Aristotle reacted with the ideas and principles of Plato. This article contain all the things im seeking about my assignment. thanks.

  6. this article is not what I have read in the book the Republic,,,Plato’s view on democracy wasn’t that it was the BEST regime! In his book “The Republic” he basically described three bad and three good regimes.. BAD are: democracy-becaus is the rule of the poor and they take over and revolt-create chaos and unstable state! oligarchy and tyranny
    and the good ones are kingship, aristocracy and polity..

    • His final word on the matter, though, is that it is the best possible regime in the city because it is the only one that allows him to “found a city in his own soul.”

  7. Kate, you miss entirely what I said. Democracy is the best possible regime while Aristocracy is the best to hope for. A true Aristocracy is not possible, it will divuldge into a Tyranny.

  8. Trace the development of the Western political ideas of the rule of law and illegitimacy of tyranny…?

  9. I read this post fully on the topic of the difference of newest and preceding technologies, it’s amazing article.

  10. There are diverse sorts of sneakers for various runners.
    Nonetheless, thin heels unquestionably improve the risk to sprain ankle owing to instability.
    Runners usually do not care about what pair of footwear they select.
    This suggests that you really should not wear shoes that usually are not your size.

  11. 例えば、もし、グッチ1973年ハンドバッグはのあなた予算、この実際に素晴らしいです時間をビューヴィンテージショップローカルの、同じスタイル。プラダも認可の骨董品店彼らのウェブサイト上どこあなた感じる安全購入、穏やかに使用されたグッチは本当本格的な。

  12. ちょうど約すべての小さなクラッチが鉄。また示したグッチ、極小黒クラッチを使用してロックンロール、すべての黒衣装。黒のクラッチを特集古代グッチタッセルと組み合わせてソフト豪華な革。

  13. シャネルのハンドバッグの クルーズ 現在は されて ニーマンマーカスの店でプレビュー と シャネル ブティック 全国。シャネルのクルーズが行 won’t ヒット店 ショップ 11 月頃まで、シャネル デザイナー財布 の これ 今後リゾート 期間 に精通して提供しています ハンドバッグ 買い物客で チャンス 頭を取得開始 上にジャンプ、 行く 2011年ハンドバッグ 特徴 ホットオフ 実際 の 最先端 ファッションの滑走路。

  14. ラベル 可能性があります、 デザイナーの署名 終了
    タッチと したがってです 非常に重要な。オリジナル 作品 されません 含む スペル
    エラー どこ 。任意のタイプのスペルミスの する必要があります を上げる即時 警告サイン について、 まともな エルメス ハンドバッグの。偽 ラベル 手頃な価格で 作られた結果 で、 安価な外観。ステッチ isn 制服をしばしば
    多数 色で、 とも、 ラベルです かなり頻繁 一貫性のないです。偽物 はしばしば名前を複数形 同様 。たとえば、Burberrys はロンドンを拠点 対は 重要な バーバリーの パリ、フランス繁体 。これらの小さい細部は 非常に重要な を決定する 質の良い と価値 に、 エルメス財布。

  15. 財布 色

  16. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects?

    Thanks a lot!

  17. Hey there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my
    new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and
    look forward to all your posts! Carry on the great work!

    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here
    click here

  18. Excellent, what a blog it is! This weblog provides useful
    facts to us, keep it up.

  19. Appreciation to my father who stated to me concerning this blog, this webpage is genuinely remarkable.

    Regards –

  20. Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it ;) I
    will come back yet again since i have book-marked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide
    other people. –

  21. hello there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up
    something new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical issues using this site,
    as I experienced to reload the web site many times previous
    to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK?
    Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances
    times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your quality
    score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for a
    lot more of your respective interesting content. Make sure you update this again very soon.

  22. I’m curious to find out what blog system you have been working with?

    I’m having some small security problems with my latest site and I’d like to find something more risk-free.

    Do you have any recommendations?

  23. After looking at a handful of the articles on your
    website, I really like your way of blogging.
    I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site as well and tell me what you think.

  24. Fantastic post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this
    topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

    Thank you!

  25. Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I’ve
    really loved browsing your weblog posts. After all I’ll be
    subscribing to your feed and I am hoping you write once more soon!

  26. The backend part of your company supports these
    profit centers. , it is best to go for affiliate marketing being an initial step
    into the world of generating impartial income from home.
    You can download Avast Free Antivirus for free from the Avast website.

  27. The web has truly changed the way we communicate and made it far easier to stay informed about the lives of our
    loved ones. They only want your money and they
    want as much of it as they can possibly get. Make certain that the payment gateway you are
    making use of, permits similar languages as the remaining of the web pages so that they can match well together.

  28. Although maximum site owners are familiar with these concepts, but they may lack the
    expertise to do it the correctly. Then consider yourself
    one of the few, true internet marketers. You can download Avast Free Antivirus for free from the Avast website.

  29. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on pest control houston 77084.

  30. Link exchange is nothing else except it is simply placing the other
    person’s website link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also do similar for you.

  31. Funny T Shirts are another category of trendy and
    stylish t shirts. Because lighter ink was screened twice on the garment.
    Sci-fi and fantasy horror films, such as “Thirteen Ghosts,” sometimes cannot avoid including
    nudity in its scenes.

  32. Hello my friend! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice
    written and include almost aall vital infos. I would like to
    see moe posts like this .

  33. Greetings! This is my first comment here so I just
    wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy
    reading through your articles. Can you suggest any other
    blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects?
    Thank you!

  34. We stumbled over here from a different web address
    and thought I might as well check things out. I
    like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to exploring your web page again.

  35. If some one wishes to be updated with hottest technologies therefore
    he must be pay a visit this web page and be up to date all the time.

  36. wonderful publish, very informative. I ponder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this.

    You should continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  37. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting
    my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get setup?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% sure.
    Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  38. whoah this weblog is magnificent i really like studying your articles.
    Stay up the good work! You understand, lots of individuals are searching round for this
    information, you can help them greatly.

  39. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  40. Thanks for finally talking about >Plato and Aristotle�s Regimes:
    Republic and Politics. | Formatia trans sicere educatorum <Liked it!

  41. Magnificent items from you, man. I have understand your stuff prior to and you are simply
    extremely wonderful. I really like what you have bought right
    here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which during which you assert it.
    You make it entertaining and you still take care of to stay it
    wise. I can’t wait to learn far more from you. This is really
    a wonderful web site.

  42. What’s up to every , as I am truly keen of reading this weblog’s post to be updated regularly.
    It contains good stuff.

  43. Hello my loved one! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all
    important infos. I would like to peer more posts like this

  44. When these lesions disappears they often leave ugly acne
    scars that a very long time to fade away.

  45. Now just a few will probably be curious on how
    the Fitbit Aria scale competes with Withings Wifi scale Merely put…it’s a wash.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 221 other followers

%d bloggers like this: