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The Minds of Two Great Philosophers

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The point of this paper is to get across the thoughts of two great minds on the topic of the rich and the poor. In Aristotle's book, The Politics, he talks about who would be a better ruler, the few (the rich) or the many (the poor). In Machiavelli's book, The Prince, he tries to figure whose support would be better, the great (the rich) or the people (the poor). Both philosophers have the same basis for their intentions, but in comparing the two one will see if these views are the same or different, and if Machiavelli's views resolve Aristotle's views.

Aristotle poses the question of who would make a better authoritative power to the city. No matter who it is, either the multitude, the wealthy, the respectable, the one who is best or the tyrant, none seem to fit an ideal solution. "It is either the multitude, the wealthy, the respectable, the one who is best of all, or the tyrant; but all of these appear to involve difficulties" (p. 100 lines 13-15). After briefly stating some possibilities, concerning a solution, it seems that they are unjust. If the respectable were to be given the authoritative power everyone else would lose their prerogatives and if they gave the one who is best the power the same thing would happen and an oligarchy would form. Then, Aristotle talks about how the authority should be given to the multitude and not the one who is best. His reasoning for this is that the multitude are many and together, not just as individuals, they are better then those who are the best: "The many, of whom none is individually an excellent man, nevertheless can when joined together be better-not as individuals but all together-than those [who are the best]" (p. 101 line 44-46). Aristotle also uses a dinner to state that it's better when many are present and not just one alone. By this he means that the many working together is better then just one working alone.

Aristotle then brings up a point about sharing political offices. He says that sharing the political offices can be unsafe because people will be unjust: "For having them share in the greatest offices is not safe: [one might argue that] through injustice and imprudence they would act unjustly in some respects and err in others" (p. 101 lines 26-28). If the people aren't given a share in a political office they will feel deprived and the city will have many enemies: "On the other hand, to give them no part and for them not to share [in the offices] is a matter for alarm, for when there exist many who are deprived of prerogatives and poor, that city is necessarily filled with enemies" (p. 101 lines 28-31). Aristotle then states that the only thing left is for them to share in the deliberating and judging.

Aristotle states that this arrangement of the regime involves questions. The first question is if someone who judges if a disease has been cured correctly should be the same person who tried to cure the disease: "It might be held that it belongs to the same person to judge whether someone has healed in correct fashion and to heal and make healthy one who is suffering from a particular disease" (p. 102 lines 39-41). For example, if someone owns a restaurant should that same person be the one to critique it? Aristotle states that the educated should be given the task of judging. He then states that the multitude are not as qualified as the ones "who know", but if the multitude come together they can be better. Aristotle is saying that the many individually are not as good as the few, but together they become better. So, he comes to the conclusion that a democracy is better then an oligarchy.

Machiavelli starts of by stating that when a person becomes prince without the use of unjust actions he is in the support of his citizens, but the problem is which of the citizens is supporting him, the people or the great, and who's support is better. "When a private citizen becomes prince of this fatherland, not through crime or other intolerable violence but with the support of his fellow citizens I say that one ascends to this principality either with the support of the people or with the support of the great" (p. 38-39). He then says that in every city the great want to control and have power over the people, but the people don't want to be controlled or be over powered: "For in every city these two diverse humors are found, which arises from this: that the people desire neither to be commanded nor oppressed by the great, and the great desire to command and oppress the people" (p. 39). The people just want to be treated the same, but the great want to have power over the people and be superior to them.

Machiavelli then starts to talk about a prince. If the great can't dominate the people, then they will try to get more power by appointing one of themselves prince. The people will also appoint one of themselves prince in hopes to

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