Why is being a Good Citizen so Important?

Category: Politics
Date added
2021/05/11
Pages:  2
Words:  557
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There are two broad themes in philosophy that have spread throughout the western world. One of which being in Aristotle’s view regarding the importance of a good citizen, and the challenge to the notion of a good citizen of just being a possessor of rights, it is an activity and something individuals should engage daily. Secondly, we see Rousseau’s view of a good man who is someone who is completely selfless and gives everything up to the general will.

One of the crucial quotes from Aristotle is that “man is by nature a social animal”. This quote can be broken down twofold, firstly the state is a natural entity and isn’t created via a social contract as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau would argue, rather a natural organization wherever people congregate you states and political institutions. Therefore politics and the state are entities that are not created but are naturally occurring.

In the modern world, we regard a good citizen as the legality of a person within a state, and the ability of that individual to be able to participate in such ways as voting in elections, etc. Aristotle doesn’t see a good citizen this way; however, he sees the idea of a good citizen as an activity that we as “social animals” should be involved in the day to day politics. The problem is that day-to-day politics becomes important because being a good citizen is so important to the human condition that individuals must participate, and do what is required of them by the state. In essence, a good citizen must perform their telos.

On the other hand, Rousseau believes that the good man should be doing is acting behind the scenes. These methods of persuasion, via argument, to try and turn a bad state into a good state, he hopes. This stems from the goodness of man and basic human rights brought about by natural laws. Rousseau believes that man is a “Nobel savage” that has been able to transform from a primal animal-like instinct, to become men of nobility with the ability to execute natural laws over,  and be able to carry out their telos of liberty both civilly and morally with mutual exclusivity.

What his point is, is that they are at opposite ends of the spectrum that there is no link between the two. To be a good citizen one must be a good man; however, this also doesn’t mean that you have to be a good man as one could be a bad man and still be a good citizen. Rousseau’s “Nobel savage” possesses good qualities on an individual level for one’s own pleasure or excellence regardless if the individual is part of a state or not. The good citizen he says only cares about the state if things are going well, but if harm comes to the state they wouldn’t care. Ultimately if the citizen is good or bad individually won’t affect what type of citizen they would become.

Comparing the two philosophers I would say Aristotle believes that a citizen doesn’t necessarily need to be a good man, but a good man will always be a good citizen. Whereas for Rousseau on the other hand, a good citizen, as well as a good man are at complete opposites of the spectrum.

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Why Is Being A Good Citizen So Important?. (2021, May 11). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/why-is-being-a-citizen-so-important/

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