When reading Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, one can’t help but grasp Machiavelli’s argument that morality and politics can not exist in the same forum. However, when examining Machiavelli’s various concepts in depth, one can conclude that perhaps his suggested violence and evil is fueled by a moral end of sorts. First and foremost, one must have the understanding that this book is aimed solely at the Prince or Emperor with the express purpose of aiding him in maintaining power. Therefore, it is essential to grasp his concepts of fortune and virtue. These two contrary concepts reflect the manner in which a Prince should govern while minimizing all chance and uncertainty.
Throughout The Prince and The Discourses of Livy, Niccolo Machiavelli demonstrates multiple theories and advocacies as to why popular rule is important to the success of a state. Popular rule is a term that will be used to define an indirect way to govern the people of a state. In order to rule the masses, a leader must please the people or revolts will occur, causing mayhem and a lack of stability in oneâ€™s state. During both written works, Machiavelli stresses the importance of obedience and order needed for a state, and especially for a leader to be successful. Machiavelli thoroughly states that anything and everything must be done to keep the peace of the masses, even if acts of immorality are used.
Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince” attempts to explain the necessary tactics and required knowledge a ruler must attain in order to gain and maintain a successful reign. The novel serves as an abstract manual, addressing the definition of a good/bad ruler by placing emphasis on the required military organization, the character a ruler must posses, and the success that could be attained if a ruler should follow the guide. The scope in which the book is written is that of a scholarly observant. Machiavelli places his findings and observations of history, as well as the needs of the people so the information may serve the prince as a tool, that once implemented will create and maintain a powerful state. The guide places a particular emphasis on the prerequisites of a good ruler.
In The Prince, Machiavelli believes that the key to power is a combination of fear and love; in the Discourses on Livy, he writes that knowledge of the past is important, and Bacon seems to think that being a private man while knowing much about others is most vital. Machiavelli’s The Prince shows how to gain political power in anyway possible. He is almost completely pragmatic in the book with little regard to morals. He states at the outset of the book that he is not dealing with republics but with princes and the best ways for them to rule over the people (1). Machiavelli believes that one of the most needed traits in a prince is that he be both feared and loved.
The basis of Machiavelli’s theory and ideas came from his most famous quote, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.” He has a very strict policy as to how a prince should act. Rather than being caring, he believes in strong punishment. He has a “Sit in the corner and think!” type attitude towards the people. His ideas were extreme, but they have been proved to work. They are effective and learning from Machiavelli is something any ruler should do.
Machiavelli and Thucydides both demonstrate how a ruler can use many aspects of human nature to their advantage when ruling a state. The common thread that ties together all of Machiavelli's beliefs is his basic view of human nature. Machiavelli believes that humans are greedy, dishonest, and are looking out for themselves above all else. The majority of what Machiavelli dictates to his audience is based on the fact that the prince has to be very careful in how he deals with his citizens, as well as those in other states. The prince has to keep them all satisfied, to avoid any attempts to dethrone him.
However, in order to comprehend the disparity between political thought, the very primary ideas needed to be described. While the central aim of Rousseau’s writing was to explain how the freedom of the individual can be integrated with the authority of the state. Hobbes illustrated the need for political societies which he calls the Leviathan, with the purpose of the dire and natural state of man to be saved. Although, both agree with the inherent equality of men, Hobbes believes men are intrinsically malicious and must be governed by a superior power. In contrast, Rousseau believes men are born with the potential of goodness but the social systems in place propagate animosity.
He frankly warns his readers against "any impressions other than those which may result from the evidence of truth" (35); he offers them a chance to join him on the right side of the issue, which he implies he has arrived at by knowledgeable deliberation. Finally, Hamilton courts his audience by implying that they will use reason to reach the truth. By contrast, the opponents of the Constitution rely on their emotions and follow a "much more certain road to the introduction of despotism" (35). In the first paragraph, Hamilton introduces the idea of truth—not in passing, but by asking whether "good government from reflection and choice" is at all possible (33). He indicates that the decision is of greater importance than just one country; the wrong decision would "deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind" (33).
I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward”(Thoreau 387). He makes the distinction between subjects, those who surrender their consciences, and men, who heed their consciences and judge for themselves. Essentially, he states that our consciences are what define our manhood and that the individual must take it into their own hands instead of leaving it to an unjust government. He reinforces this point by likening those who submit without regard for their own consciences to “movable forts or magazines”. He further elaborates by saying, “ The only obligation, which I have the right to assume is to do at anytime what I think is right”(Thoreau 387).
In The Prince, Machiavelli was addressing a monarchical ruler and offering advice designed to keep that ruler in power. He felt that Cesare Borgia was model for the perfect prince. He was able to give actual examples of how princes during his time ruled and how they failed or succeeded in doing so. Plato, in contrast was perhaps unrealistic. His ruler and state could only be used to better understand the meaning of justice.