Analytical Paper #3: Book 7, Ch. 4 Aristotle In this chapter it is Aristotle's goal to explain the ideal size of a city-state, and the proper multitude of people to inhabit that city-state. Aristotle argues "most people suppose that a happy city-state must be a great one" (line 7). This thought is wrong, he concludes, claiming that it is not the number of inhabitants that makes a city-state great, but its "ability."For a city-state has a task to perform, so that the city-state that is best able to complete it is the one that should be considered greatest" (line 13).
Aristotle's second claim is that in order to have an ideal city-state, one must have the ideal inhabitants within that city-state. Typically, in large city-states a great number of the inhabitants are "slaves, resident aliens, and foreigners", this makes for a densely populated city-state. The great city-states are the ones who have the most people that are "a part of it." Meaning a city-state in which a majority of its inhabitants are involved in the daily activities and governing of the city-state. Aristotle continues by stating "from the facts at least it is difficult, perhaps impossible, for an overly populated city-state to be well governed" (line 25). He argues that law is a kind of "organization", and thus for a government to be a good government it must be well organized. Trying to organize a large city-state is impossible, it is a task for a divine power, therefore, a city-states population must be restricted.
"The size of a city-state, like everything else, has a certain scale: animals, plants and tools. For when each of them is neither too small nor too excessively large, it will have its own proper capacity" (line 35). Aristotle then relates it to a ship. One that is too small is not a formidable ship.
Yet one that is too large is also not worthy of being called a ship. The ship will sail badly if it is too small or too large, and so it is with city-states, one that has too few people is not self-sufficient, yet, one that consists of too many, is not ideal, because it is too hard to govern. In conclusion, Aristotle claims that "the first city-state to arise is the one composed of the first multitude large enough to be self-sufficient with regard to living the good life as a political community" (line 7). This is the only way that the purpose of the rulers can be accomplished. A limit to a city-states expansion must be placed on it so that a self-sufficient life is promoted and maintained. On this wise, Aristotle claim's is the way to determine the size of a city-state..