Aristotle And Locke: Aristotle Vs. Locke

1750 Words7 Pages
Debate surrounding the question of citizenship, and the ensuing ideals about what makes a good life, has existed for as long as citizenship itself – providing many contrasting views and interpretations about the peak of human flourishing. Aristotle himself recognizes this fact, stating that “…there is often dispute about the citizen…since not everyone agrees that the same person is a citizen” (Politics 65). This is indicative, then, of the fact that there will be many different interpretations of human existence and its purpose; due to the fact that there is not even agreement on citizenry and what the ideas of it reflect for human life. The juxtaposition of two such views, those of Aristotle and Locke, allow thinkers to evaluate not only two…show more content…
For Locke, on the other side of the citizenship spectrum, and in contrast, the two have completely different functions. Whereas the city state for Aristotle is a natural consequence of human nature, for Locke, it is a necessary deviation from the natural state due to human nature. In The Second Treatise of Government, Locke details the state of perfect freedom that human beings are naturally in. He depicts a “A state of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another…” (8). In this way, the natural state of humans is not to form a city-state but rather to exist in a state of equality in of itself, with no form of government that puts one above another. In this way, government comes to be not because of human being’s state of nature but rather as a consequence of it. Existing in Locke’s state of nature is the executive power of law and the ability to judge actions that go against natural law. Given that, Locke writes that “self-love will make men partial to themselves and their friends: and on the other side, that ill nature, passion and revenge will carry them too far in punishing others,” and therefore, “…civil government is the proper remedy for the inconveniences of the state of nature…” (Second Treatise of Government 12). Thus, it is due to passion and bias that prevents men from being judge in their own cases and grievances that…show more content…
Upon evaluating Aristotle’s ideals of citizenship, one finds a world wherein citizenship and freedom are one in the same – active participation in debate and deliberation in the political community through the exclusively human use of reason and speech capacities. Given this ideal of citizenship, it becomes the case that the ideas for human flourishing and thus the good life follow suit. For Aristotle, human flourishing comes from the cultivation of virtue that is a result of continued participation in the political community, or, continued intentional citizenship. For the good life, it is important to note that it is the continued practice of virtuous activity, rather than the obtaining, that is required. For, “…possession of virtue seems actually compatible with being asleep, or with lifelong inactivity, and, further, with the greatest sufferings and misfortunes; but a man who was living so no one would call happy…” (Ethics 938). It is not enough to state that one is virtuous, nor is it enough for someone to be born virtuous and end there. Rather, it is the continuous pursuit, the juxtaposition of virtuous activity and of that which isn’t, that allows an individual to flourish in an Aristotelian society. We can deduce, then, that “…human
Open Document