La conception platonicienne de la démocratie et sa critique par Aristote : bilan et perspectives- Essai sur les fondements épistémologiques, éthiques et politiques de la démocratie à l'époque classique et dans la modernité

Authors: Goupayou Goupayou, Hervé
Advisor: Narbonne, Jean-Marc
Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the Platonic conception of democracy and its criticism by Aristotle, in order to highlight the foundations and the main characters of this debate in the classical period, then to show their possible links with democratic modernity. The hypothesis put forward is that the idealist epistemology which is at the foundation of Plato’s political project is also the foundation of his criticism of democracy. The naturalist and empiricist epistemology which is at the foundation of Aristotle’s political philosophy is also the foundation of his approach of democracy. The Platonic conception of democracy is idealistic and therefore relatively disconnected from the Athenian political reality; that of Aristotle is pragmatist: it is adapted to the Athenian democratic reality. The heart of the disagreement between Plato and Aristotle lies in the articulation between science and politics, better between truth and democracy. By castigating democracy in the name of a transcendent and universal truth, Plato deliberately broke with the values of the Athenian democracy of the classical period. For him, in general, democracy does not only define a form of government: it is a type of society where pluralism, excess of freedom and equality reign, and where everyone can live according to his or her fantasy. Variegated, it contains all forms of constitutions. No one is forced to obey. Everyone can decide to order if he has the fancy. Plato points out ignorance and popular incompetence: the inability to understand man and to adapt to him an appropriate education. He criticizes the drawing of lots of magistrates and public offices which, according to him, make democracy an object of intrigue and not of competence. For the disciple of Socrates, when democratic freedom is pushed to its extreme, there is no longer any social or human order: democracy turns into tyranny. In general, the Platonic conception of democracy is only an almost grotesque caricature of Athenian democracy, and a parody of its various praises by Greek political rhetoricians. The Aristotelian conception of democracy is inspired by the Athenian constitution of the classical period. By praising democratic participation and deliberation, in the name of a naturalist and empiricist schema of knowledge, Aristotle deliberately sets out to agree with the values of Athenian democracy of the classical period. By promoting individual knowledge, his epistemology highlights the plurality and diversity, as well as the freedom and equal participation of citizens in political decisions, as foundations of democracy. Aristotelian epistemology implies a pragmatist approach to democracy. According to him, every man has something special to bring to the truth. Democratic truth is a rational consensus reached after popular debate or deliberation. It is the sum of individual opinions. In his approach of democracy, Aristotle introduces the consideration of the composition of the dominant social group and makes it an analysis that can be described as sociological. He distinguishes four kinds of democracy from the social category that exercises the reality of power: rural democracy, oligarchic democracy, popular democracy and politeia. According to him, Politeia is the best form of democracy. It is the best alternative for the Athenian democracy. Politeia is like a mixed regime and a rule of law because the laws do not favor neither the rich nor the poor. In short, in politeia all citizens have the right to participate in political affairs. We show at the end of our research, taking stock of the debate between Plato and Aristotle, and especially by highlighting the values of politeia as the best form of government, that Aristotle has laid the foundations of participatory and deliberative democracy of the contemporary period. In other words, procedural democracy or what contemporary political philosophers call epistemic proceduralism has Aristotelian roots.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2019
Open Access Date: 15 October 2019
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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