Politics and animal life: the analogy of the good government

  • Hernán Neira Universidad de Santiago de Chile


Aristote maintains that, in order to govern themselves, animals need neither a monarcon with arbitrary powers, nor a well governed city. With this assessment he establishes an analogy between animal life and political life. Following analysis of some of his and later philosophers' (Vitoria, Locke, Condillac, and Rousseau) texts, we can affirm that this analogy has displayed continuity and that it is complemented with some modern concepts, such as those of sovereignty and interest. Applied by Condillac to animals, the concept of interest is understood as a guide that orientates their life, and not only as an "instinct" conducive to obtaining food and enabling reproduction. Likewise, the capacity of movement of some animals requires a certain degree of consciousness of self, of the environment and of the possibility of their own death. The ensemble shows that it is hard to talk about the political without an analogy with the animal life, and vice versa; and that the analogy would support the obligation to recognize rights of animals, as already some courts have decided and as can be found in some legal texts.
Como Citar
Neira, H. (2014). Politics and animal life: the analogy of the good government . Scientiae Studia, 12(2), 261-284. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1678-31662014000200003