Modern Political Theory: Rousseau and Machiavelli Essay

Modern Political Theory: Rousseau and Machiavelli Essay

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Machiavelli and Rousseau, both influential philosophers, were innovators of their time. They represented different ideas on what the state of nature and government should consist of, having both similarities and differences. Their viewpoints evolved from different time periods, which make them unique. Machiavelli, the sixteenth century Italian diplomat expressed, that a Prince should be unethical in achieving power. He argued that to be successful in politics certain qualities were of importance and ethics could not stand in the way. Machiavelli stated that a Prince’s power should be maintained in being feared and loved, and possessing control over the people. Rousseau on the other hand was an eighteen century philosopher and writer. Unlike Machiavelli, his view’s on political and modern philosophies were influenced by the French Revolution. Rousseau believed in a legitimate government that was elected by a civil society based on social contract. Both philosophers wanted to develop an ideal structure for the development of a functional society. They both had different tactics in doing so but aim for the same thing, a great society. Rousseau’s approach seems most persuading to me in the sense that is based off a group of people coming together and deciding what is best for the majority. Machiavelli influenced Rousseau in the context of political economy and social contract.

During the sixteenth century the political foundation was of interest to Machiavelli. He wrote, “The Prince” as a guide to political power. It was his analysis on how a powerful ruler could be created. Although most seen his writing as harsh, it allowed others the idea of what they believed the perfect civilized government should look like. His rules and...


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... for the same thing, a great society. Both styles of government presented in this paper reflect parts of what our government can be but Rousseau’s approach seems most persuading in the sense that it is most relatable to our government. Overall, Machiavelli influenced Rousseau in the context of political economy and social contract and they both seem to believe government should be directed towards the people but have different views on government.









Works Cited


Rousseau, Jean. “Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men,” Trials of Modernity: Europe and the Modern World. Eds. Stacy Burton and Dennis Dworkin. 3rd ed. Boston: Pearson, 2001. 139-43. Print.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. “The Prince” Trials of Modernity: Europe and the Modern World. Eds. Stacy Burton and Dennis Dworkin. 3rd ed. Boston: Pearson, 2001. 139-43. Print.

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