aiou solved assignment code 207

AIOU Solved Assignments 1 & 2 Code 4669 Autumn & Spring 2023

Aiou Solved Assignments code M.Sc 4669 Autumn & Spring 2023 assignments 1 and 2  Course:  Social Theory–I (4669)  spring 2023. aiou past papers

AIOU Solved Assignments For Code 4669 Autumn & Spring 2023

Course: Social Theory–I (4669)
Semester: Autumn & Spring 2023
Level: M. Sc (Pak Studies)

Q. 1     Discuss in detail the characteristics of institutions of Athenian democracy. Are these characteristics worthy of being ideal and relevant in this modern world.


Athens in the 5th to 4th century BCE had an extraordinary system of government: democracy. Under this system, all male citizens had equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participate directly in the political arena. Further, not only did citizens participate in a direct democracy whereby they themselves made the decisions by which they lived, but they also actively served in the institutions that governed them, and so they directly controlled all parts of the political process.

Ancient Sources

Other city-states had, at one time or another, systems of democracy, notably Argos, Syracuse, Rhodes, and Erythrai. In addition, sometimes even oligarchic systems could involve a high degree of political equality, but the Athenian version, starting from c. 460 BCE and ending c. 320 BCE and involving all male citizens, was certainly the most developed.

The contemporary sources which describe the workings of democracy typically relate to Athens and include such texts as the Constitution of the Athenians from the School of Aristotle; the works of the Greek historians Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon; texts of over 150 speeches by such figures as Demosthenes; inscriptions in stone of decrees, laws, contracts, public honours and more; and Greek Comedy plays such as those by Aristophanes. Unfortunately, sources on the other democratic governments in ancient Greece are few and far between. This being the case, the following remarks on democracy are focussed on the Athenians.

The Assembly & Council

The word democracy (d?mokratia) derives from d?mos, which refers to the entire citizen body, and kratos, meaning rule. Any male citizen could, then, participate in the main democratic body of Athens, the assembly (ekkl?sia). In the 4th and 5th centuries BCE the male citizen population of Athens ranged from 30,000 to 60,000 depending on the period. The assembly met at least once a month, more likely two or three times, on the Pnyx hill in a dedicated space which could accommodate around 6000 citizens. Any citizen could speak to the assembly and vote on decisions by simply holding up their hands. The majority won the day and the decision was final. Nine presidents (proedroi), elected by lot and holding the office one time only, organised the proceedings and assessed the voting.

Specific issues discussed in the assembly included deciding military and financial magistracies, organising and maintaining food supplies, initiating legislation and political trials, deciding to send envoys, deciding whether or not to sign treaties, voting to raise or spend funds, and debating military matters. The assembly could also vote to ostracise from Athens any citizen who had become too powerful and dangerous for the polis. In this case there was a secret ballot where voters wrote a name on a piece of broken pottery (ostrakon). An important element in the debates was freedom of speech (parrh?sia) which became, perhaps, the citizen’s most valued privilege. After suitable discussion, temporary or specific decrees (ps?phismata) were adopted and laws (nomoi) defined. The assembly also ensured decisions were enforced and officials were carrying out their duties correctly.

 AIOU Solved Assignments Code 4669 Autumn & Spring 2023

There was in Athens (and also Elis, Tegea, and Thasos) a smaller body, the boul?, which decided or prioritised the topics which were discussed in the assembly. In addition, in times of crisis and war, this body could also take decisions without the assembly meeting. The boul? or council was composed of 500 citizens who were chosen by lot and who served for one year with the limitation that they could serve no more than two non-consecutive years. The boul? represented the 139 districts of Attica and acted as a kind of executive committee of the assembly. It was this body which supervised any administrative committees and officials on behalf of the assembly.


Then there was also an executive committee of the boul? which consisted of one tribe of the ten which participated in the boul? (i.e., 50 citizens, known as prytaneis) elected on a rotation basis, so each tribe composed the executive once each year. This executive of the executive had a chairman (epistates) who was chosen by lot each day. The 50-man prytany met in the building known as the Bouleuterion in the Athenian agora and safe-guarded the sacred treasuries.

Athenian Agora – 3D View

In tandem with all these political institutions were the law courts (dikasteria) which were composed of 6,000 jurors and a body of chief magistrates (archai) chosen annually by lot. Indeed, there was a specially designed machine of coloured tokens (kleroterion) to ensure those selected were chosen randomly, a process magistrates had to go through twice. It was here in the courts that laws made by the assembly could be challenged and decisions were made regarding ostracism, naturalization, and remission of debt.

This complex system was, no doubt, to ensure a suitable degree of checks and balances to any potential abuse of power, and to ensure each traditional region was equally represented and given equal powers. With people chosen at random to hold important positions and with terms of office strictly limited, it was difficult for any individual or small group to dominate or unduly influence the decision-making process either directly themselves or, because one never knew exactly who would be selected, indirectly by bribing those in power at any one time. 

Participation in Government

As we have seen, only male citizens who were 18 years or over could speak (at least in theory) and vote in the assembly, whilst the positions such as magistrates and jurors were limited to those over 30 years of age. Therefore, women, slaves, and resident foreigners (metoikoi) were excluded from the political process.

The mass involvement of all male citizens and the expectation that they should participate actively in the running of the polis is clear in this quote from Thucydides:

We alone consider a citizen who does not partake in politics not only one who minds his own business but useless.

Illustrating the esteem in which democratic government was held, there was even a divine personification of the ideal of democracy, the goddess Demokratia. Direct involvement in the politics of the polis also meant that the Athenians developed a unique collective identity and probably too, a certain pride in their system, as shown in Pericles’  famous Funeral Oration for the Athenian dead in 431 BCE, the first year of the Peloponnesian War:

Athens’ constitution is called a democracy because it respects the interests not of a minority but of the whole people. When it is a question of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of putting one person before another in positions of public responsibility, what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses. No one, so long as he has it in him to be of service to the state, is kept in political obscurity because of poverty. (Thuc. 2.37)

Although active participation was encouraged, attendance in the assembly was paid for in certain periods, which was a measure to encourage citizens who lived far away and could not afford the time off to attend. This money was only to cover expenses though, as any attempt to profit from public positions was severely punished. Citizens probably accounted for 10-20% of the polis population, and of these it has been estimated that only 3,000 or so people actively participated in politics. Of this group, perhaps as few as 100 citizens – the wealthiest, most influential, and the best speakers – dominated the political arena both in front of the assembly and behind the scenes in private conspiratorial political meetings (xynomosiai) and groups (hetaireiai). These groups had to meet secretly because although there was freedom of speech, persistent criticism of individuals and institutions could lead to accusations of conspiring tyranny and so lead to ostracism.

Critics of democracy, such as Thucydides and Aristophanes, pointed out that not only were proceedings dominated by an elite, but that the d?mos could be too often swayed by a good orator or popular leaders (the demagogues), get carried away with their emotions, or lack the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions. Perhaps the most notoriously bad decisions taken by the Athenian d?mos were the execution of six generals after they had actually won the battle of Arginousai in 406 BCE and the death sentence given to the philosopher Socrates in 399 BCE. 


Democracy, which had prevailed during Athens’ Golden Age, was replaced by a system of oligarchy after the disastrous Athenian defeat in Sicily in 409 BCE. The constitutional change, according to Thucydides, seemed the only way to win much-needed support from Persia against the old enemy Sparta and, further, it was thought that the change would not be a permanent one. Nevertheless, democracy in a slightly altered form did eventually return to Athens and, in any case, the Athenians had already done enough in creating their political system to eventually influence subsequent civilizations two millennia later.

In the words of historian K. A. Raaflaub, democracy in ancient Athens was

a unique and truly revolutionary system that realized its basic principle to an unprecedented and quite extreme extent: no polis had ever dared to give all its citizens equal political rights, regardless of their descent, wealth, social standing, education, personal qualities, and any other factors that usually determined status in a community.

Ideals such as these would form the cornerstones of all democracies in the modern world. The ancient Greeks have provided us with fine art, breath-taking temples, timeless theatre, and some of the greatest philosophers, but it is democracy which is, perhaps, their greatest and most enduring legacy.

AIOU Solved Assignments 1 Code 4669 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q. 2     Harmony had been the ultimate principle in all the earliest attempts, before Plato, at a theory of the physical world. Critically analyze whether harmony was really the solution of the ills of the society at that time?


Aristotle versus Plato. For a long time, that is the angle from which the tale has been told. Aristotle’s philosophy, we are given to understand, was built up in fundamental opposition to Plato’s. But it was not always thus in the history of philosophy. The indispensable Diogenes Laertius (c. 200 C.E.), tells us, for example, that Aristotle was Plato’s ‘most genuine disciple’.1 Beginning perhaps in the 1st century B.C.E., we can already see philosophers claiming the ultimate harmony of Academic and Peripatetic thought. Antiochus of Ascalon (c. 130 – c. 68 B.C.E.) is frequently identified as a principal figure in this regard. 2 A similar view is clearly expressed by Cicero.3 Later in the 2nd century C.E., we can observe the Platonists Alcinous in his influential ‘Handbook of Platonism’ simply incorporating what we might call ‘Aristotelian elements’ into his account of Platonism.4 Finally, and most importantly, for a period of about three hundred years, from the middle of the 3rd century C.E. to the middle of the 6th, Aristotelianism and Platonism were widely viewed and written about as being harmonious philosophical systems.5 The philosophers who held this view are today usually given the somewhat unhelpful and artificial label ‘Neoplatonists’. This paper aims to sketch the basis for the harmonists’ view and to give some indications of the extent to which it might be justified. ‘Harmony’ when used of two philosophical positions can of course mean many things. Most innocuously, it can mean ‘non-contradictory’. There are countless philosophical positions that are harmonious in this sense. Usually, there is little point even in mentioning that A’s position does not in fact contradict B’s. Those who held Aristotelianism to be in harmony with Platonism did not mean merely that their views were not in contradiction with each other. Another somewhat more interesting sense of ‘harmony’ is employed when it is held that two philosophical systems share some common principles, though, owing to a divergence in others, they reach opposite conclusions. It is often illuminating to seek out at some level of generality or even identities among ostensibly incompatible positions. For example, two materialist theories of mind might well have contradictory or contrary accounts of mental events or processes. Although this sort of harmony is not entirely absent from the thought examined here, it is not the dominant theme. The idea of the harmony between Platonism and Aristotelianism that drove the philosophy of our period was somewhat different. Roughly, it was held that Plato was authoritative for the intelligible world and Aristotle was authoritative for the sensible world. More than this, it was assumed or argued that what Plato and Aristotle each had to say about the intelligible and sensible worlds were mutually supporting. So, if one accepted most Aristotle’s views about the world, one could do with a clear conscience as a Platonist. At this point, an entirely reasonable response would be: ‘if that is what was meant by the ‘harmony’ of Plato and Aristotle, then so much the worse for them!’ One might be at a loss to understand how anyone, reading objectively the corpus of Aristotelian texts, could suppose that Aristotle did not see himself as opposed to Plato. For example, Richard Sorabji avers that the idea of harmony is a ‘perfectly crazy proposition’. 6 Part of my task is to show that such a perception is less well founded than one might suppose. Nevertheless, I aim to do more than this. I want to show that reading Aristotle as a Platonist, far from being an exercise in historical perversity, does actually yield interesting results, both exegetical and philosophical.

The view that the philosophy of Aristotle was in harmony with the philosophy of Plato must be sharply distinguished from the view, held by no one in antiquity, that the philosophy of Aristotle was identical with the philosophy of Plato. For example, in Plato’s dialogue Parmenides Socrates suggests that Zeno’s book states the ‘same position’ as Parmenides’ differing only in that it focuses on an attack on Parmenides’ opponents. Zeno acknowledges this identity.7 The harmony of Aristotle and Plato was not supposed to be like the identity of the philosophy of Zeno and Parmenides. The claim that Aristotle and Plato belong to the same school, namely, the Old Academic, should not be understood to entail the identity of the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle for the simple reason that the Neoplatonists, who claimed adherence to this school, differed widely among themselves without supposing that one was thereby an opponent of the school. Porphyry differs from Plotinus on certain major points, Iamblichus differs from Porphyry and Plotinus, Proclus differs from all three, and so on. So, the claim that Plato and Aristotle belong to the same school or that their philosophies are in harmony must be understood in a more nuanced manner. The first concrete indication we possess that Neoplatonists were prepared to argue for the harmony of Aristotle and Plato is contained in a reference in Photius’ Bibliography to the Neoplatonist Hierocles’ statement that Ammonius of Alexandria, the teacher of Plotinus, attempted to resolve the conflict between the disciples of Plato and Aristotle, showing that they were in fact ‘of one and the same mind’ (e{na kai ; to;n aujto;n nou’n).8 The second indication of an effort to display harmony is found in the Suda where it is stated that Porphyry, Plotinus’ disciple, produced a work in six books titled ‘On Plato and Aristotle Being Adherents of the Same School’ (mia; th;n ai{rersin).9 We know nothing of this work apart from the title and what we can infer from what Porphyry actually says in the extant works. It seems reasonably clear, however, that a work of such length was attempting to provide a substantial argument, one which was evidently in opposition to at least some prevailing views. It is also perhaps the case that Porphyry is questioning the basis for the traditional division of the ‘schools’ of ancient philosophy, as found, for example, in Diogenes Laertius.10 That Aristotle was at least to a certain extent an independent thinker and so not simply categorized by adherence to a ‘school’, is hardly in doubt. But just as Plotinus’ claim to be eschewing novelty may be met with some legitimate skepticism, so Aristotle’s claim to be radically innovative may be met with the same skepticism. The question of whether Aristotelianism is or is not in harmony with Platonism is certainly not going to be answered decisively by anything Aristotle says suggesting it is not. We should acknowledge that the Neoplatonists looked back at their great predecessors with some critical distance, as we do. What may have appeared to Aristotle as a great chasm between himself and his teacher may have justifiably appeared much less so to those looking at both philosophers some 600 to 900 years later. The sense in which the philosophies of Aristotle and Plato were held by Neoplatonists to be in harmony is roughly the sense in which we might say that Newtonian mechanics is in harmony with quantum mechanics or sentential logic is in harmony with predicate logic. The principal point of these analogies lies in the relative comprehensive of quantum mechanics and predicate logic. But the more comprehensive theories are also better theories. Thus, in countless matters relating to physical nature, Aristotle’s preeminence and authority was readily acknowledged. But Aristotle did not, according to the Neoplatonists, possess the correct comprehensive view of all reality. In particular, he misconceived the first principle of all reality. But in part because he did recognize that there was a first principle and that it was separate from and prior to the sensible world, he is legitimately counted as being fundamentally in harmony with Plato. Aristotle’s own view of Plato philosophy is a notoriously vexed topic.11 There are scores of references to Plato’s views in Aristotle’s works. Most of these are references to the dialogues; a few of these are references to Plato’s ‘unwritten teachings’. There are also references to what can be loosely described as ‘Academic positions’ such as a belief in Forms that might well include Plato but probably also include others. Insofar as Aristotle’s exposition and analysis of Plato’s views are based solely on the dialogues, they can presumably be independently evaluated for accuracy, as Harold Cherniss has does, in some cases with considerable deflationary force. Unfortunately, however, even if we imagine we can isolate the putative ‘unwritten teachings’ and so refuse to let them contaminate our evaluation of Aristotle’s account of Plato’s views in the dialogues, we must allow that Plato’s meaning is often hard to interpret.

AIOU Solved Assignments 2 Code 4669 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q. 3     Elaborate Plato’s distrust of democracy. What had been the justification with Plato for distrusting democracy? Explain with examples.


Plato (429?–347 B.C.E.) is, by any reckoning, one of the most dazzling writers in the Western literary tradition and one of the most penetrating, wide-ranging, and influential authors in the history of philosophy. An Athenian citizen of high status, he displays in his works his absorption in the political events and intellectual movements of his time, but the questions he raises are so profound and the strategies he uses for tackling them so richly suggestive and provocative that educated readers of nearly every period have in some way been influenced by him, and in practically every age there have been philosophers who count themselves Platonists in some important respects. He was not the first thinker or writer to whom the word “philosopher” should be applied. But he was so self-conscious about how philosophy should be conceived, and what its scope and ambitions properly are, and he so transformed the intellectual currents with which he grappled, that the subject of philosophy, as it is often conceived—a rigorous and systematic examination of ethical, political, metaphysical, and epistemological issues, armed with a distinctive method—can be called his invention. Few other authors in the history of Western philosophy approximate him in depth and range: perhaps only Aristotle (who studied with him), Aquinas, and Kant would be generally agreed to be of the same rank.

Athenian democracy came about  around 550 BCE. At the time the system of government was designed to be a direct democracy, which would mean that every eligible citizen would have the opportunity to vote on each piece of legislation.

Aside from political revolutions around 400 BCE, Athenian democracy remained remarkably stable and well maintained. This new form of government empowered the common citizen in ways that were unheard of. Individuals not from aristocracy, yet who possessed political ambition, often found themselves hoisted to the highest ranks of Athenian politics. One example is the famous Athenian general and statesman Themistocles, who would be essential in the salvation of Greece during the second Persian invasion. For these reasons, Athens is often regarded as the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of western civilization.

Of course it was far from perfect. Only free men who had completed their military service were allowed to vote on any legislation. This meant that only about 20% of the population were actually able to vote. Women were not allowed to vote and subsequently possessed significantly fewer rights than men. These were not the only complaints against the early democracy of Athens. In the course of his writings, the philosopher Plato extensively examined what he considered serious dangers that resided within the system of democracy.

The first, rather obvious, strike against Athenian democracy is that there was a tendency for people to be casually executed. It is understandable why Plato would despise democracy, considering that his friend and mentor, Socrates, was condemned to death by the policy makers of Athens in 399 BCE. Plato would write about the trial of Socrates in his first essay The Apology. Plato would later describe the trial of Socrates as a doctor being persecuted by a pastry chef and judged by a jury of children. Still, Socrates was not the only man to be executed in such a manner.

During the Peloponnesian war, the ten treasurers of the Delian League were accused of embezzling funds from the Athenian treasury. These men were tried and executed one after another until only one remained. It was only after nine men were dead, that a simple accounting error was discovered and the remaining treasurer was released. Also, after the naval victory of Arginusae, several Athenian commanders were accused of failing to collect survivors after the battle. Six commanders were executed for failing to perform their duties. The city would later repent for these executions by executing the original men who had accused the generals.

Death of Socrates

It might be easy to assume that Plato held a grudge over the death of his mentor. Certainly, the numerous executions would give reason to doubt the system of Athenian democracy. However Plato believed there was a far more sinister nature to democracy. A calamity at the very heart of democracy, it would lead only to tyranny and subjugation.

In book VIII of The Republic, Plato begins to describe several stages of government that are intolerable, yet unavoidable. Plato predicts a society with an enormous socioeconomic gap, where the poor remain poor and the rich become richer off the blood and sweat of others. In this instance, the people will long for freedom and liberty. They will use it as a battle cry against their oppressors, sparking a revolution.

From this revolution, blood will be spilled and many will die. During this time of violent transition, the people will rally behind one man, or a few men, whom they believe to be their savior. The people will lift this champion to great heights and anoint him with sacred responsibilities to bring liberty to the land. When the smoke clears the old regime will be gone and a democracy will be supplanted. And while this is reminiscent of several historical revolutions, including the American revolution, Plato warns that the trouble only intensifies from here.

During the course of his writings Plato differentiates between necessary desires and unnecessary desires. Necessary desires are desires we can not over come, such as our desire for shelter and sustenance. Unnecessary desires are desires that we are able to overcome, yet refuse to. These desires include luxuries and lavish possessions. These types of desires are a result of a rapid influx of liberty into the population. Once we have tasted freedom we become drunk off it. Plato predicts that the people will demand freedom at every turn, fighting any form of authority and demanding more liberty. We become obsessed with our freedom and become willing to sacrifice necessary things like social order and structure to attain it.

At this point, the newly appointed leaders become very nervous. It was so easy to depose their predecessors, so why not them? These democratic leaders will realize that they are only easily supported when there is a war that the people can rally behind. And so the democratic leaders will unnecessarily become involved in violent affairs, creating wars to distract the people. To ensure their power, the leaders will create laws to bolster their position. The rulers will impose heavy taxes against the commoners to ensure they are unable or unwilling to fight back against this. And any who do oppose the leaders will be labeled as an enemy and persecuted as a spy. It is for this reason that there must always be some enemy combatant that the leader can cast blame upon.

Plato continues in his discussion by explaining that the these leaders will eventually become unpopular, an unavoidable result. Those who once supported this ruling class begin to rebel against the would be tyrant. At this point the citizens will try to get rid of whatever man is currently in office, either by exile or impeachment. If this is not possible, the ruler will inevitable strike down any political opposition he may have.

Hated by the people, these leaders will request the presence of a body guard. And now he is a tyrant, the leader has no choice if he wishes to rule. Elected by the people, yet now he is protected from them. Plato predicts that this tyrant will appeal to the lowest form of citizen. He will make soldiers of the slaves and the degenerates. The tyrant will pay them to protect him from the ordinary citizens. And now the leader is a tyrant, born from democracy and propped up by the demand for liberty. And in our quest for liberty, we instead created a monster.

Plato’s description of a democracy is rather thought provoking. It gives us pause and forces us to examine our own government. Could it be true that our leaders are the bullies and the political tyrants that Plato describes? Does democracy lead to entangling wars for the benefit of the ruling class? And are the people so subjugated by senseless laws and stiff taxes, that they are unable to resist in any meaningful way? Perhaps. History has shown a consistent pattern of subjugation, revolution and subjugation once again.

Plato predicted that democracy would lead to nations being governed by bullies and brutes. Take a minute and think about the people who are running whatever country you are in and tell him he is wrong. And before you decide to judge the philosopher Plato, try to remember that he is often considered one of the wisest men to ever live; an individual whose work was so profound that it shaped the direction of western thought and culture. Indeed, it has been said that any philosophy after Plato can only be considered a footnote on any of his work.

Yet, we are allowed to doubt him if we wish. Rather ironically, that is a freedom we are allowed. It was the political philosopher Thomas Paine who describe government as, “at best, a necessary evil”. And if we are to think in this manner, then perhaps democracy is simply the least damaging form of government we have been able to create over the course of human existence. A thinly veiled tyranny is better than outright oppression.

Whatever your opinions of democracy, American or otherwise, it is necessary to keep in mind these charges Plato has laid before us. And the next time we celebrate the 4th of July, keep in mind that a far wiser man than any of us once called to our attention the unavoidable and disastrous nature of the pursuit of liberty.

AIOU Solved Assignments 1 & 2 Code 4669 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q.4      Make a critical analysis of the idea of mixed state propounded by Plato. Discuss the important features of mixed state which had been ascribed to it by Plato?


Plato is one of the world’s best known and most widely read and studied philosophers. He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, and he wrote in the middle of the fourth century B.C.E. in ancient Greece. Though influenced primarily by Socrates, to the extent that Socrates is usually the main character in many of Plato’s writings, he was also influenced by Heraclitus, Parmenides, and the Pythagoreans.

There are varying degrees of controversy over which of Plato’s works are authentic, and in what order they were written, due to their antiquity and the manner of their preservation through time. Nonetheless, his earliest works are generally regarded as the most reliable of the ancient sources on Socrates, and the character Socrates that we know through these writings is considered to be one of the greatest of the ancient philosophers.

According to Plato, Socrates postulated a world of ideal Forms, which he admitted were impossible to know. Nevertheless, he formulated a very specific description of that world, which did not match his metaphysical principles. Corresponding to the world of Forms is our world, that of the shadows, an imitation of the real one. Just as shadows exist only because of the light of a fire, our world exists as, “the offspring of the good”. Our world is modeled after the patterns of the Forms. The function of humans in our world is therefore to imitate the ideal world as much as possible which, importantly, includes imitating the good, i.e. acting morally.

Plato lays out much of this theory in the “Republic” where, in an attempt to define Justice, he considers many topics including the constitution of the ideal state. While this state, and the Forms, do not exist on earth, because their imitations do, Plato says we are able to form certain well-founded opinions about them, through a theory called recollection.

The republic is a greater imitation of Justice:

Our aim in founding the state was not the disproportional happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness of the whole; we thought that in a state ordered with a view to the good of the whole we should be most likely to find justice.

The key to not know how such a state might come into existence is the word “founding” (oikidzomen), which is used of colonization. It was customary in such instances to receive a constitution from an elected or appointed lawgiver; however in Athens, lawgivers were appointed to reform the constitution from time to time (for example, Draco, Solon). In speaking of reform, Socrates uses the word “purge” (diakathairountes) in the same sense that Forms exist purged of matter.

The purged society is a regulated one presided over by philosophers educated by the state, who maintain three non-hereditary classes as required: the tradesmen (including merchants and professionals), the guardians (militia and police) and the philosophers (legislators, administrators and the philosopher-king). Class is assigned at the end of education, when the state institutes individuals in their occupation. Socrates expects class to be hereditary but he allows for mobility according to natural ability. The criteria for selection by the academics is ability to perceive forms (the analog of English “intelligence”) and martial spirit as well as predisposition or aptitude.

The views of Socrates on the proper order of society are certainly contrary to Athenian values of the time and must have produced a shock effect, intentional or not, accounting for the animosity against him. For example, reproduction is much too important to be left in the hands of untrained individuals: “… the possession of women and the procreation of children … will … follow the general principle that friends have all things in common, ….” The family is therefore to be abolished and the children – whatever their parentage – to be raised by the appointed mentors of the state.

Their genetic fitness is to be monitored by the physicians: “… he (Asclepius, a culture hero) did not want to lengthen out good-for-nothing lives, or have weak fathers begetting weaker sons – if a man was not able to live in the ordinary way he had no business to cure him ….” Physicians minister to the healthy rather than cure the sick: “… (Physicians) will minister to better natures, giving health both of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their bodies they will leave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put an end to themselves.” Nothing at all in Greek medicine so far as can be known supports the airy (in the Athenian view) propositions of Socrates. Yet it is hard to be sure of Socrates’ real views considering that there are no works written by Socrates himself. There are two common ideas pertaining to the beliefs and character of Socrates: the first being the Mouthpiece Theory where writers use Socrates in dialogue as a mouthpiece to get their own views across. However, since most of what we know about Socrates comes from plays, most of the Platonic plays are accepted as the more accurate Socrates since Plato was a direct student of Socrates.

Perhaps the most important principle is that just as the Good must be supreme so must its image, the state, take precedence over individuals in everything. For example, guardians “… will have to be watched at every age in order that we may see whether they preserve their resolution and never, under the influence either of force or enchantment, forget or cast off their sense of duty to the state.” This concept of requiring guardians of guardians perhaps suffers from the Third Man weakness (see below): guardians require guardians require guardians, ad infinitum. The ultimate trusty guardian is missing. Socrates does not hesitate to face governmental issues many later governors have found formidable: “Then if anyone at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the state should be the persons, and they … may be allowed to lie for the public good.”

Plato’s conception of Forms actually differs from dialogue to dialogue, and in certain respects it is never fully explained, so many aspects of the theory are open to interpretation. Forms are first introduced in the Phaedo, but in that dialogue the concept is simply referred to as something the participants are already familiar with, and the theory itself is not developed. Similarly, in the Republic, Plato relies on the concept of Forms as the basis of many of his arguments but feels no need to argue for the validity of the theory itself or to explain precisely what Forms are. Commentators have been left with the task of explaining what Forms are and how visible objects participate in them, and there has been no shortage of disagreement. Some scholars advance the view that Forms are paradigms, perfect examples on which the imperfect world is modeled. Others interpret Forms as universals, so that the Form of Beauty, for example, is that quality that all beautiful things share. Yet others interpret Forms as “stuffs,” the conglomeration of all instances of a quality in the visible world. Under this interpretation, we could say there is a little beauty in one person, a little beauty in another—all the beauty in the world put together is the Form of Beauty. Plato himself was aware of the ambiguities and inconsistencies in his Theory of Forms, as is evident from the incisive criticism he makes of his own theory in the Parmenides.

AIOU Solved Assignments Code 4669 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q.5      What was the importance of distinction between different kinds of rule for Aristotle? Elaborate kinds of rule by focusing on the writings of Aristotle?


In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (384-323 B.C.E.) describes the happy life intended for man by nature as one lived in accordance with virtue, and, in his Politics, he describes the role that politics and the political community must play in bringing about the virtuous life in the citizenry.

The Politics also provides analysis of the kinds of political community that existed in his time and shows where and how these cities fall short of the ideal community of virtuous citizens. Although in some ways we have clearly moved beyond his thought (for example, his belief in the inferiority of women and his approval of slavery in at least some circumstances), there remains much in Aristotle’s philosophy that is valuable today.

In particular, his views on the connection between the well-being of the political community and that of the citizens who make it up, his belief that citizens must actively participate in politics if they are to be happy and virtuous, and his analysis of what causes and prevents revolution within political communities have been a source of inspiration for many contemporary theorists, especially those unhappy with the liberal political philosophy promoted by thinkers such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill.

Who Should Rule?

This brings us to perhaps the most contentious of political questions: how should the regime be organized? Another way of putting this is: who should rule? In Books IV-VI Aristotle explores this question by looking at the kinds of regimes that actually existed in the Greek world and answering the question of who actually does rule. By closely examining regimes that actually exist, we can draw conclusions about the merits and drawbacks of each. Like political scientists today, he studied the particular political phenomena of his time in order to draw larger conclusions about how regimes and political institutions work and how they should work. As has been mentioned above, in order to do this, he sent his students throughout Greece to collect information on the regimes and histories of the Greek cities, and he uses this information throughout the Politics to provide examples that support his arguments. (According to Diogenes Laertius, histories and descriptions of the regimes of 158 cities were written, but only one of these has come down to the present: the Constitution of Athens mentioned above).

Another way he used this data was to create a typology of regimes that was so successful that it ended up being used until the time of Machiavelli nearly 2000 years later. He used two criteria to sort the regimes into six categories.

The first criterion that is used to distinguish among different kinds of regimes is the number of those ruling: one man, a few men, or the many. The second is perhaps a little more unexpected: do those in power, however many they are, rule only in their own interest or do they rule in the interest of all the citizens? “[T]hose regimes which look to the common advantage are correct regimes according to what is unqualifiedly just, while those which look only to the advantage of the rulers are errant, and are all deviations from the correct regimes; for they involve mastery, but the city is a partnership of free persons” (1279a16).

Having established these as the relevant criteria, in Book III Chapter 7 Aristotle sets out the six kinds of regimes. The correct regimes are monarchy (rule by one man for the common good), aristocracy (rule by a few for the common good), and polity (rule by the many for the common good); the flawed or deviant regimes are tyranny (rule by one man in his own interest), oligarchy (rule by the few in their own interest), and democracy (rule by the many in their own interest). Aristotle later ranks them in order of goodness, with monarchy the best, aristocracy the next best, then polity, democracy, oligarchy, and tyranny (1289a38). People in Western societies are used to thinking of democracy as a good form of government – maybe the only good form of government – but Aristotle considers it one of the flawed regimes (although it is the least bad of the three) and you should keep that in mind in his discussion of it. You should also keep in mind that by the “common good” Aristotle means the common good of the citizens, and not necessarily all the residents of the city. The women, slaves, and manual laborers are in the city for the good of the citizens.

Almost immediately after this typology is created, Aristotle clarifies it: the real distinction between oligarchy and democracy is in fact the distinction between whether the wealthy or the poor rule (1279b39), not whether the many or the few rule. Since it is always the case that the poor are many while the wealthy are few, it looks like it is the number of the rulers rather than their wealth which distinguishes the two kinds of regimes (he elaborates on this in IV.4). All cities have these two groups, the many poor and the few wealthy, and Aristotle was well aware that it was the conflict between these two groups that caused political instability in the cities, even leading to civil wars (Thucydides describes this in his History of the Peloponnesian War, and the Constitution of Athens also discusses the consequences of this conflict). Aristotle therefore spends a great deal of time discussing these two regimes and the problem of political instability, and we will focus on this problem as well.

First, however, let us briefly consider with Aristotle one other valid claim to rule. Those who are most virtuous have, Aristotle says, the strongest claim of all to rule. If the city exists for the sake of developing virtue in the citizens, then those who have the most virtue are the most fit to rule; they will rule best, and on behalf of all the citizens, establishing laws that lead others to virtue. However, if one man or a few men of exceptional virtue exist in the regime, we will be outside of politics: “If there is one person so outstanding by his excess of virtue – or a number of persons, though not enough to provide a full complement for the city – that the virtue of all the others and their political capacity is not commensurable…such persons can no longer be regarded as part of the city” (1284a4). It would be wrong for the other people in the city to claim the right to rule over them or share rule with them, just as it would be wrong for people to claim the right to share power with Zeus. The proper thing would be to obey them (1284b28). But this situation is extremely unlikely (1287b40). Instead, cities will be made up of people who are similar and equal, which leads to problems of its own.

The most pervasive of these is that oligarchs and democrats each advance a claim to political power based on justice. For Aristotle, justice dictates that equal people should get equal things, and unequal people should get unequal things. If, for example, two students turn in essays of identical quality, they should each get the same grade. Their work is equal, and so the reward should be too. If they turn in essays of different quality, they should get different grades which reflect the differences in their work. But the standards used for grading papers are reasonably straightforward, and the consequences of this judgment are not that important, relatively speaking – they certainly are not worth fighting and dying for. But the stakes are raised when we ask how we should judge the question of who should rule, for the standards here are not straightforward and disagreement over the answer to this question frequently does lead men (and women) to fight and die.

What does justice require when political power is being distributed? Aristotle says that both groups – the oligarchs and democrats – offer judgments about this, but neither of them gets it right, because “the judgment concerns themselves, and most people are bad judges concerning their own things” (1280a14). (This was the political problem that was of most concern to the authors of the United States Constitution: given that people are self-interested and ambitious, who can be trusted with power? Their answer differs from Aristotle’s, but it is worth pointing out the persistence of the problem and the difficulty of solving it). The oligarchs assert that their greater wealth entitles them to greater power, which means that they alone should rule, while the democrats say that the fact that all are equally free entitles each citizen to an equal share of political power (which, because most people are poor, means that in effect the poor rule). If the oligarchs’ claim seems ridiculous, you should keep in mind that the American colonies had property qualifications for voting; those who could not prove a certain level of wealth were not allowed to vote. And poll taxes, which required people to pay a tax in order to vote and therefore kept many poor citizens (including almost all African-Americans) from voting, were not eliminated in the United States until the mid-20th century. At any rate, each of these claims to rule, Aristotle says, is partially correct but partially wrong. We will consider the nature of democracy and oligarchy shortly.

Aristotle also in Book III argues for a principle that has become one of the bedrock principles of liberal democracy: we ought, to the extent possible, allow the law to rule. “One who asks the law to rule, therefore, is held to be asking god and intellect alone to rule, while one who asks man adds the beast. Desire is a thing of this sort; and spiritedness perverts rulers and the best men. Hence law is intellect without appetite” (1287a28).

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