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Good Citizen Essay, Research Paper

The good man and the good citizen are not one and the same. What can be said

about one cannot be necessarily said about the other. It is essential for the

good man to be a good citizen. It is not, though, vital for the good citizen to

be a good man. This distinction is important to make, because it helps one

understand that the qualities a good man possesses far supersede those of a good

citizen. A good citizen does what is best for the community, his city. As long

as he is no harm to his surroundings, and cares for the improvement and

betterment of his city, he is a good citizen. Who a person is doesn’t greatly

affect what kind of citizen he will be. What if a man is a secret murderer? If

we were to say that he only kills people outside of his city, would he be

affecting the city in any way? If he was a great politician and lived this

secret life as well would he still be a great citizen? The answer is yes. This

is because the good citizen doesn’t have to care about others. He can allow his

desires to overpower his calculating. He doesn’t have to have a well-ordered

soul. In other words, he doesn’t have to be a good man. Aristotle chooses to

search for the difference between the good man and the good citizen by examining

and analyzing their virtues. He concludes that, "Hence, the virtue of a

citizen must be suited to his constitution. Consequently, if indeed there are

several kinds of constitution, it is clear that there cannot be a single virtue

that is the virtue-of a good citizen. But the good man, we say, does express a

single virtue: the complete one. Evidently, then, it is possible for someone to

be a good citizen without having acquired the virtue expressed by a good

man" (1276b). What Aristotle doesn’t tell us is who is better off. Is it

sufficient to be the good citizen or is it definitely more satisfying to be the

good man? The good man is recognizably superior to the good citizen. The good

man possesses everything that is good. He does what is just and what is just is

beneficial to himself and to those around him. His soul is completely

well-ordered and, therefore, cannot allow for his desires to take over and

commit evil or injustice of any kind. This can’t be said about the good citizen

and that is what makes the good man superior. He is the good citizen and a whole

lot more. The distinction between the good citizen and the good man is an

important one to make. If it is to be assumed that they are equal, then we

wouldn’t even have a grasp on the definition of the complete virtue. It would be

assumed that there isn’t just one way a person should be, considering the good

citizen’s virtue is dependent on his varying kind of constitution. By making the

distinction, an example is set for others to follow. It is as if someone is

saying, "This is the good man so try to be like him." If it were

believed that the good citizen is the same as the good man, there would exist a

lot more injustice in the world.


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