Liberty, Necessity, and Virtue Essay

Liberty, Necessity, and Virtue Essay

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To understand the politics we have, we must look at two philosophers who have shaped the ideas and politics of this world. Niccolò Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes founded a new kind of political science that opposed the classical view of politics. Both of these men believed classical philosophy and Christianity focused on reaching imagined republics; these imagines republics were unreachable. Under these imagined republics men were held to high standards, men had to be virtuous; and men could not keep all the virtues because they lived in a world where men were not all good. Machiavelli’s book The Prince redefines virtue in order to allow rulers to keep their power; he lowered the standards of politics with this action. While Machiavelli’s writings meant to influence rulers, Hobbes’ book the Leviathan focused on appealing to the people. Hobbes placed political philosophy on a scientific basis; as a result human life was reduced to only self-preservation and commodious living. This essay will examine the innovations Machiavelli and Hobbes created especially with their views on virtue, necessity, and liberty.
Machiavelli redefined the term virtue from the classical understanding. He did this by incorporating vice into virtue. Machiavelli new understanding of virtue is required and by rulers and soldiers in order to maintain power. The Prince determined that men were not all good. He believed that the classical understanding of virtue could only be applied or used by men in what Machiavelli called imagined republics or kingdoms. Because men were not all virtuous and did not keep their promises, Machiavelli believed the ruler should not be all virtuous or always keep his promises. The necessity to maintain power drives a ruler to step...


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...nion could only be applied during his time and therefore could no longer be applied; Aristotle’s opinion was inaccurate. Berns argued that “[v]irtue, if it means anything more that a man’s power, is the habit of doing what tends to our self-preservation, and to its fundamental condition, peace; vice is the contrary,” and thus like Machiavelli, Hobbes redefine virtue.
To conclude one can determine that both Machiavelli and Hobbes have influenced politics. Machiavelli lowered the standards for politics and initiated the movement to create a separation of church and state in order to restore the political. The adoption of church and state preserves politics. Hobbes created a new science that emphasized the preservation of the self. Everything derived from one’s ability to have self-preservation, and thus a focus on individual rights rather than the common good.

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