Perception of the State
Perception of the State
When discussing his theory of the existence of the state, Aristotle begins by arguing that both the state and political rule are natural. Aristotle explains how the state is made up of smaller and simpler association. First, man and women combined in pairs, for they could not naturally live apart. Then, slave and man combined; thus, according to nature the household association was formed. When several households combined, for self-preservation, the village emerged. The state is the end of both the household and the village, being their completion in the fullest sense.
Aristotle explains how “the nature of things consist in their end or consummation, for what each thing is when its growth is completed we call the nature of that thing”. He elaborates further that this final outcome is the best form of the original thing and the self sufficient form. Therefore based on this theory, the state exists by nature, it is the consummation of all associations and therefore is the highest association, it is self sufficient. The state does not exist for the sake of any further associations. Whilst it comes into existence for the sake of life, in actuality, it exists for the sake of a good life. Meaning, it has the higher moral aim of bringing about a good life, a life which can attain happiness.
Aquinas agrees with Aristotle that the state is a natural institution. However, Aquinas believed that mans end is not to attain happiness, but is a supernatural end. He elaborates that man differs from other creatures in the sense that man was created in gods image, man has reason. Man must use this reason to attain this supernatural end, salvation. Aquinas explains that man is not an isolated individual and therefore man cannot attain salvation by using his individual reason, man needs the cooperation of other men. Therefore it is understood that man is by nature a social being, a being that is supposed to live in a community, a state. At last it is deduced that the state exists and is naturally formed so that men can be combined, and together use their reason to attain their supernatural end.
In order to fully comprehend the concept of the highest association or a supernatural end, one must understand both Aristotles and Aquinas perception on the purpose of the state.
With his continuous emphasis on the state being the highest association, a self sufficient place, Aristotle explains how human beings have the capabilities to actualize/realize