Political Revolution

Ancient Greeks: Aristotle on Corruption

JoAnnChateau.com - Quotes | Ancient Greeks
Written by JoAnn Chateau

The many are more incorruptible than the few;
they are like the greater quantity of water
which is less easily corrupted than a little.

~ Aristotle

Aristotle, (born c. 384 bce—died c. 322 bce), is a towering figure in ancient Greek philosophy, making contributions to logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, biology, botany, ethics, politics, agriculture, medicine, dance and theatre. He was a student of Plato who in turn studied under Socrates. He was more empirically-minded than Plato or Socrates and is famous for rejecting Plato’s theory of forms.” ~ Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

READ MORE: Aristotle: Greek Philosopher | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Human nature has not changed over the millennia. The question is, do we learn from history?

The People are the source of democratic wisdom and integrity. Listen to us!

That’s one of my thoughts. Care to share what you are thinking?

Ancient Greek Wisdom  

About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • I agree JoAnn – especially in the Internet age. In a democracy we are free to express our views and consider the views of others. Robert’s question is fascinating. There are so many who are easily led that I fear the numbers of the corruptible go up when leaders polarize the people. When you have an authoritarian regime you can’t be sure who is in compliance with the corrupt rulers because they agree or because the fear to disagree.

  • Aristotle’s is a positive view of human nature. I wonder, though, if the ratio of incorruptible to corruptible changes with respect to a given system. Would a government, for example, based on and enforced by ethical principles have the same ratio as one which encourages self-interest? In other words, what determines the corruptibility of people – the intrinsic traits of the individual or the circumstances individuals find themselves in?

    The Nuremberg Trials following WWII provide case studies for this question. In general, defendants were held personally responsible; although, the convictions included condemnations for acquiescence to the immoral system of policies which guided them. The truly great 1961 film “Judgement at Nuremberg” (with Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, and Maximilian Schell) is a must-see for anyone interested in this psychology.

    • Interesting.

      In general, I think a democracy, i.e., “the many”, ends up being less corrupted because it holds a variety of views. Even if the different view points are inspired by a variety of self-interests, they inspire open debate and may force some kind of compromise. Ideally, “the many” serve as a check and balance system, making it harder for elite special interests to steal the show.

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