The basic political unit for Aristotle is the polis, which isboth a state in the sense of being an authority-wieldingmonopoly and a civil society in the sense of being a series oforganized communities with varying degrees of converginginterest. Aristotle’s political theory is markedlyunlike some later, liberal theories, in that he does not think that thepolis requires justification as a body threatening to infringeon antecedently existing human rights. Rather, he advances a formof political naturalism which treats human beings as by naturepolitical animals, not only in the weak sense of being gregariouslydisposed, nor even in the sense of their merely benefiting from mutualcommercial exchange, but in the strong sense of their flourishing ashuman beings at all only within the framework of an organizedpolis. The polis ‘comes into being for the sakeof living, but it remains in existence for the sake of livingwell’ (Pol. 1252b29–30; cf. 1253a31–37).


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