Aquinas' view of kingship and the Aristotelian response

St. Thomas Aquinas takes a number of Aristotle’s concepts from The Politics in order to produce his idea of the best routine. He reviews the excellent and bad types of each type of government Aristotle introduced, and then makes his decision that the finest regime is a type of monarchy that he calls kingship. This choice stems from his definition of a king as “one who rules over individuals of a city or province for the typical great” (17 ).

Kingship is advantageous because it is the guideline of someone.

Aquinas specifies that the correct and most helpful method to perform an objective is “when it is cause its suitable end” (15 ). The inaccurate way would be the opposite– to lead something to an unsuitable end, or not to lead it to an end at all. Due to this definition, the most efficient government would lead individuals to their appropriate end, which Aquinas thinks is unity. In this sense, Aquinas believes that certainly something that “is itself one can promote unity much better than that which is a plurality” (17 ).

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This might not appear rather so obvious to anybody else, and his analogy in between unity and heat might appear a little unclear, but Aquinas still makes a legitimate point in that producing a government promoting unity is harder when more individuals are involved. This is merely since of the variety of ideas and analyses present within a group that are not present under the rule of one.

Aquinas likewise argues that kingship, or the good, just monarchy, is more suitable since it is present in nature.

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He likens the king to God, because naturally God is the “Ruler over all” (17 ). It is therefore natural for one guy to rule lots of, as long as he is leading individuals to their suitable end, which is unity. The king must be “a shepherd who looks for … not his own advantage” (16 ), which is a circumstances of government represented by nature. Aquinas believes that as “art imitates nature” (18 ), so need to politics, and the best art is that which best mimics nature. In this sense, the very best government would be that which mimics natural order. The king “has a task to act in his kingdom like the soul in the body and God on the planet” (26 ). This is the very best method in which a government can show nature in its practice.

Aquinas understands that monarchy is “considered by many as odious because it is associated with the evils of tyranny” (20). He, however, believes that kingship is so important, that a slight change of the type of monarchy would not be that bad. This is interesting, because Aquinas also says that tyranny is the “worst form of government” (18) because it seeks only the good of the tyrant, and is therefore further from the appropriate end of government, which is the common good and unity. The reasons Aquinas seems to change his mind about the idea of tyranny seem to be a little cloudy.

He suddenly decides that tyranny in its less excessive forms is nowhere near as bad as the better forms of government, even though he says it is the worst. Aquinas would advise the citizens to “tolerate a mild tyranny for a time” (23) instead of doing anything rash that “may bring on many dangers that are worse” (23). These dangers include democracy and oligarchy, which are supposed to be better forms of government than tyranny. In any case, the tyranny would still be the rule of one, although not for the common good. This may be what Aquinas means when he says tyranny is tolerable.

Aristotle would agree with most of Aquinas’ statements, mainly because they were Aristotle’s statements first. Aristotle poses questions on the issue of kingship, and sets up arguments others have against it, while Aquinas attempts to come up with some answers as to why kingship is the best alternative. Aristotle agrees that there are some states that kingship would benefit greatly. His view is not that all states would benefit from a kingship, which is what Aquinas is trying to prove. This is the major difference, as both believe that kingship is a worthy form of government.

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Aquinas' view of kingship and the Aristotelian response. (2016, Jun 19). Retrieved from

Aquinas' view of kingship and the Aristotelian response

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