Aristotle's Politics

How Aristotle and Machiavelli Use the Middle Class and the Masses to Achieve Stable Political Organizations

Note: The copy of Politics used for this paper is not the standard copy. I have tried to be as specific about passages as possible.

Aristotle and Machiavelli both extol the judgement of the masses on political affairs. Aristotle states that the "many...may surpass - collectively and as a body, though not individually - the quality of the few best" (1281a). Machiavelli believes similarly that "The populace is generally more prudent, more predictable, and has better judgement than a monarch" (156). The reasons for each man's assertions on the lucidity and usefulness of the masses are grounded in different objectives. While Aristotle focuses a great deal on the importance of the masses and the middle class to a stable political organization, Machiavelli merely defends the collective wisdom of the populace, stating that "Everyone speaks ill of [the populace]...because they can do so without fear even when [the populace] are in power". The contrasting ways of presenting the attributes of the masses strongly reflect the goals of each author. Politics is centered around Aristotle's quest to find the "sort of Constitution which is possible for most cities to enjoy" (1295a). Machiavelli,...

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