And this is the reason why in youth good men often appear to be simple, and are easily practised upon [deceived] by the dishonest, because they have no examples of what evil is in their own souls.”
“Yes,” he said, “they are far too apt to be deceived.”
“Therefore,” I said, “the judge should not be young; he should have learned to know evil, not from his own soul, but from late and long observation of the nature of evil in others: knowledge should be his guide, not personal experience.”
“Yes,” he said, “that is the ideal [model of perfection] of a judge.”
The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) was suspicious of democracy, which he thought could lead to mob rule. Instead, Aristotle favored rule by a single strong and virtuous leader. In this excerpt from Politics, Aristotle outlines the forms of government and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each type. Besides describing the ideal state, Aristotle also writes about practical matters relating to the preservation and improvement of government.
First, let us consider what is the purpose of a state, and how many forms of government there are by which human society is regulated. We have already said, in the first part of this treatise [written agreement] … that man is by nature a political animal. And therefore, men, even when they do not require one another's help, desire to live together … and are also brought together by their common interests … well-being … is certainly the chief end, both of individuals and of states….
The conclusion is evident: that governments which have a regard to the common interest are constituted [made or composed of] in accordance with strict principles of justice, and are therefore true forms; but those which regard only the interest of the rulers are all defective and perverted forms, for they are despotic [characteristic of a tyrant or absolute ruler], whereas a state is a community of freemen….
Of forms of government in which one rules, we call that which regards the common interests kingship or royalty; that in which more than one, but not many, rule, aristocracy; and it is so called, either because the rulers are the best men, or because they have at heart the best interests of the state and of the citizens. But when the citizens at large administer the state for the common interest, the government is called by the generic [general] name–a constitution….
Of the above-mentioned forms, the perversions are as follows: of royalty, tyranny; of aristocracy, oligarchy; of constitutional government, democracy. For tyranny is a kind of monarchy which has in view the interest of the monarch only; oligarchy has in view the interest of the wealthy; democracy, of the needy; none of them the common good of all.