The “Absence of Chance” and the “Serving of Ends”

Tracing Aristotle’s Concept of ‘Nature’ to his Political Principles


  • Quah Say Jye National University of Singapore



Aristotle’s concept of nature, captured in quotations such as “nature does nothing in vain” and “man by nature is a political animal,” is a topic consistently discussed within scholarly literature. This paper’s primary aim is to demonstrate how Aristotle’s concept of nature underpins his political theory. It first uncovers Aristotle’s concept of nature, then it demonstrates how this concept underpins his political principles. Aristotle’s concept of nature is first broken down to two ideas: the “absence of chance,” which describes the regularity and permanence of phenomena, and the “serving of ends,” which explains Aristotle’s teleological approach. As such, Aristotle’s nature is used both to describe and explain phenomena, and therefore it shows both how and why certain phenomena occur. Armed with this understanding of nature, this paper shows how Aristotle applies this concept of nature to derive two political principles - the “principle of rulership” and the “social instinct.” These political principles in turn underpin his political theory and approach to political science. This paper shows that, through an understanding of Aristotle’s concept of nature, we can better understand the foundation of his politics.






Social Sciences & Humanities