At its heart, Aristotle's ideal state, whatever its specific form of government, maintains its legitimacy by serving the good life for the people as a whole. Aristotle's description of the state as an association of free men aligns him with democratic theory, though he expresses a distaste for democracy at a certain level and finds that there are certain classes in society that should not be given the right to participate because they are not worthy. Aristotle calls his version of democracy by the name "polity" and describes its constitution as assuring political control to be exercised by the mass of the populace in the common interest, and he analyzes the nature of the polis, the city-state, and its workings in his Politics, a work which actually addresses issue of ethics and morality more than politics as we mean it today. It is a book of politics because it acknowledges that to achieve a moral and so happy life, the attempt must be made in terms of a civil society embodied in the city-state of the time.
Aristotle writes the following about the relationship between the city and the human being:
So it is manifest that the city is among the things that exist by nature that a human being is by nature a political animal, and that anyone who is cityless by nature and not by chance is either of a depraved sort or better than a human being.
This passage includes several related ideas beginning with the concept that the city is a natural entity that develops through the acc