The Othering in Aristotle's Political Theory

2021-05-09 08:45:35
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Othering refers to the process by which a group, individual or an object is casted to another ones role besides creating ones personal identity via oppositions and effectively criticizing the other. Greeks had been using the term, barbarian to describe other non-Greek members which is a common example of Othering. The process of Othering is considered to go beyond denigration and scape-goating. This study will seek to determine some of important responses to Aristotles work with regard to the implication of the term, Othering. The essay will analyze the essential contribution of Aristotle towards Othering of diverse groups of people. Secondly, it will also focus on the ultimate role of Other in defining Aristotles political theory. In order to deeply understand this concept, this paper will focus on the relationship between self and other as deduced from Aristotles work. Finally, this study will explore possible mechanisms that can be used to subvert the hierarchical link between self and other besides examining possible role of either political or feminist theories in the latter subversion of the link. Aristotle uses Othering in defining the formation of the city-state from legislative process and resource mobilization by the community. The hierarchical relationship between self and others can be challenged through immediate differences ascribed to Feminism Theory which expresses the source of differences ranging from social-political, cultural and gender/structural differences.

How does Aristotle contribute to othering of different groups?

Throughout out the work of Aristotle, there are many instances and aspects that create an inference to othering different groups. These instances are exemplified in different scenarios. He frequently compares politicians to craftsman. This form of comparison could often be perceived as shear exaggeration. In particular, the comparison may be perceived unnecessary or incorrect since politics comprises mainly of a legislative science and a practical knowledge while on the other hand, craft resemble architecture in the look of productive knowledge. In this regard, Aristotle eventually Others the two groups distinctively. Nonetheless, while this comparison is seemingly unsubstantial, the philosopher makes a valid comparison as politicians operates, produces and maintains a regional legal system based on the universal principle. On the other hand, Aristotle perceives the production of artifacts based on four main causes namely; material, efficiency, formal and final causes. All these aspects are grounded on the critical focus on others.

In this regard, Aristotle presents instances in which the production of clay or pottery is casted on the hand of the craftsmen while the legislations are squarely dependent on the legislative agents commonly referred to as the legislators. The normalcy enjoyed in a region with enforced legislation is therefore a product of the legislative processes that are done by the legislative agents who principally execute the law formation process. On the other hand, since Othering also entails the existence of an object, Aristotle focuses on the existence of city-state based on four main causes and parts described in form of households or economic classes such as the rich and the poor. As ultimately posited in an Other case, the city-state comprises of individual citizens who are the source of the city-state when linked to resources or other material equipments.

From the perspective of Aristotle, the city state is formally caused by the constitution. Subsequently, he defines the constitution as, a certain ordering of the inhabitants of the city-state. In addition, he cites the communitys constitution as being the form of the surrounding. Subsequently, the essence of a community remaining unchanged over time is anchored on the provisions of her constitution. This implies that the constitution does not only entail a script of written document but rather a major principle guide to individual souls. This implies that the constitution becomes the way of life of the individual citizens comprising of the minority residents with full political rights. In this regard, Aristotle claims that the existence of a city state demands for an efficient cause; a ruler.

Aristotle argues that any community can have sustained order if it possesses a ruling element or a form of authority governing its operation. This is purely the same concept of others which cites being casted upon another with considerable opposition. The existence of a complete city state is based on the availability of a ruling regime which acts in presence of opposition in the minority. This is a major consideration of others in the delivery of core functions that are entrenched in a mutual system such as the constitution.

The aspect of final cause is also a major political talk-point of Aristotle. Each city-state is perceived as a community while each community is developed with the intention of reaping benefits for the residents. Every community therefore anticipates good achievement while the community with the highest power which all the others focus to as the target point. The performance of the weaker parties is therefore anchored on the nature and quality of focus on the highest possible achievement particularly leveled by the power community. This concept defines the impact of Others with regard to focus on achievement that Aristotle generates hence his principal role in Othering. The philosopher uses the city-state perspective to define the political community an aspect that creates a sound perspective of his ultimate claim on others.

What is the role of other in Aristotles political theory?

In the political theory by Aristotle, others plays a significant role. The political naturalism of Aristotle also presents a complex perspective of his analysis as it does not explain the usage of the term, nature. In essence, the concept of nature is well understood in the scientific discipline but wed then applied in this case creates certain difficulties in the conceptual framework used thereon. In the analysis, the city-states were considered natural resembling a plant or even an animal growing in the natural habitat until it matures right from the seed. In defining the existence of an object, individual or place in the political theory, Aristotle asserted that there must be either natural force or craft to bring its existence

On the other hand, critiques also argue that Aristotle is wrong to associate the existence of the City-state as a function of the lawgiver. This is perceived to imply that the city state is a product of craftsmen (legislature). This assertion is deduced from the perspective of other. Nonetheless, if Aristotle had claimed that the city-state was natural, it would have been meet with less resistance as it could have risen from human natural inclinations living in communities with the aim of achieving human natural ends. However, this perspective does not provide a complete view of the state as the city-state is incomplete without the intervention of lawgivers in providing a constitution that govern it. By citing lawgiver (others) in this case, Aristotle clearly defines the correct value of the role of others in the prescription of a regional title and role such as the city-state.

What is the relationship between the self and other that Aristotle envisage?

Within the context of Nicomachean Ethics, the philosopher (Aristotle) defines his subject matter as political science described as being the most authoritative discipline. This Ethical context provides a framework under which the city-state analysis and others are confined. Besides the city-state, other disciplines include household management and military science among others that fall under its jurisdiction. Since political science governs other practical sciences, the end of such sciences serves as mechanism for the end of political science, which is outright human good. Even in the event that the end is similar for both individuals and city-states (others), the case of city-state is perceived to be more complete to attain and eventually preserve. Despite the fact that it is important to gain this level of accomplishment for an individual, it is more effective if it involves others in form of a nation or the city-state which comprises of groups of individual with multiple interests.

The political science perspective of Aristotle entails two main fields identified by modern philosophers the ethics and political philosophy. In particular the political philosophy is mainly the subject matter for Aristotles discussion. Besides, while focusing on the city, Aristotle considers that the needs of individuals (self) and others differ. Subsequently, any ideal city must be organized in a manner that maximizes satisfaction of others. It must be large enough to create self-sufficiency as well as small enough to maintain fellow feeling. Considerations to this case include close-proximity to waters for the citys engagement in sea commerce. Consequently, Aristotle claims that active citizenship is a major necessity for leading a good life.

Is there a way to subvert the hierarchical relationship(s) between the self and other?

Yes; the roles assigned to different genders in a social system is often varied with culture and other aspects of physical attributes of the two genders. In this regard, the response of a self is expectedly different from the response of others in a given cultural backyard or a even in other genders. The composition of a group and the specific aspects that comprises high stake in the society by virtue of authority may have significant influence on the social network of individuals or other constituents. A powerless group (others) may be less effective relative to a powerful self. These discrepancies define the social connects between self and others and often present a subversion of the hierarchical relationships between other and self. Finally, the Feminist Theory could create a stronger subversion of the above relationship too. This case is possible as it helps define gender inequality aspect and also examines contextualized womens social roles, home economics and education among other important variables that create discrepancies in both self and others.


Mulgan, Richard G. Aristotle's political theory. Clarendon Press, (2007.

Rosler, Andres. "Political authority and obligation in Aristotle." Oxford Press, (2005).

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