Plato and Aristotle are variably considered as some of the greatest political thinkers and philosophers the world has ever produced. It is worth noting that at one time Aristotle was a student of Plato therefore their political thoughts are almost similar yet there exists great discrepancies in their teachings. Nevertheless despite the fact that their thoughts were coined in the 4th century they still remain popular even today. In many history circles these two great political philosophers are regarded in different ways based on their political and philosophical view.
Whilst Plato is variably regarded as the “first writer of political philosophy”, Aristotle on his part is considered to be the first political scientist. (Landman T 34) Abstract reason that was based on moral knowledge was the ground within which Plato based his theories making a departure from Aristotle who based his theories on experience where he envisaged applying them on concrete living. Within the political teachings of Plato the most central theme or discourse is the Republic which primarily deals with the soul that describes justice as the definitive human form.
According to Plato, Justice is central to the establishment and the eventual strengthening of the regime attaining happiness in the process. For Plato a perfect society is the focal point, and in his book ‘The Republic”, he strives to create an outline of a society that is utopian in nature disregarding the tension of political life. In this outline he therefore sought to achieve a perfect society where present inherent problems are eased by curing the human personality and the society at large.
According to Plato, politics is regarded as an attempt by man to bring orderliness or disorderliness in the regime or his social life. To bring order and law in the society politics is regarded as the main means to achieve this end because the Republic is a political. (Landman T 38) Aristotle on the other hand expressed his political thoughts through his writing, Politics. Unlike Plato his concern is more directed towards the regime rather than the individual and justice is the highest goal.
Ultimately according to him people must live together leading to a more united regime, thus the family is highly stressed in his philosophy because this is where people originate from. Two main fields define Aristotle’s political science and include ethics and political philosophy. (Landman T 41) The politician’s task according to Aristotle is to give laws and to tailor the regime’s constitution, after this the next pertinent step for the politician is to sustain and maintain this constitution to ensure the political system is maintained.
Aristotle was on the view that the regime makes up what is called a community which is generally established for some particular good. (Keyt D. & Miller, F 69) Both Aristotle and Plato had different views about appropriate leadership to govern the regime. For Aristotle the most beneficial leadership for the regime is a kingship, which is followed by Aristocracy, then Polity, Democracy, Oligarchy and finally Tyranny as its extreme. (Lord C 122). However according to Plato the highest or the most beneficial is the Timocracy which is followed by Oligarchy, then Democracy and Tyranny at the bottom.
Plato had a more pessimistic view of the change in regime which he regarded as a linear circumstance that is uncontrollable which is always deteriorating. Thus a regime can never improve in any way. Aristotle on the other hand is of a divergent opinion that is optimistic and considers change as a non-linear progression that can sometimes go from worse to better and vice- versa, where the regime has a probability of rehabilitating itself.