In the annals of history, many individuals have contributed great works of literature, waxing philosophically on the meaning of life, death, and love. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote not on love or life, but on power: How to capture it, how to consolidate it, and how to defend it against all comers. His work has been talked about and dissected to the extent that his subject matter and methods have earned their own moniker: Machiavellian. Nonetheless, this great philosopher's works did not meet with unanimous approval. His own student, Thomas Hobbes, presented a very different account of politics. This essay offers a Hobbesian critique of some of Machiavelli's arguments, focusing in and around the ninth chapter of The Prince. Although Machiavelli and Hobbes share many of the same views - like the moral depravity of the human character and the absence of natural justice - Hobbes differs from Machiavelli in three key respects: The position of glory and honour, the role of competition, and the function of the state.
Hobbes and Machiavelli share the same understanding of human character. Machiavelli wrote during a time when people believed in absolute moral virtue. But as Machiavelli struck pen to paper, he rebelled from this norm. Having criticized Christian doctrine in Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli proceeds in The Prince to outline a sinister, ruthless understanding of virtue. Hidden deep within this dark design is his greatest contribution to modern politics: Rationalism.1 Machiavelli was the first philosopher to employ a truly pragmatic approach to politics. He examined human beings in light of their motives, their desires, and their fears. While other philosoph...
... middle of paper ...
...ts of the citizenry.
Curley, Edwin [Ed.]. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Hackett Publishing Company, United States of America; 1994
Mansfield, Harvey C. [Trans.]. Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. University of Chicago Press, Chicago; 1998
1 Sometimes referred to as Realism.
2 Pangle, Thomas. Class Lecture. Jan. 25, 1999
3 Mansfield, Harvey C. [trans] Machiavelli, The Prince. Ch. XVII. P. 66
4 Curley, Edwin [ed.]. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. P. 58
5 Mansfield, Harvey C. [trans] Machiavelli, The Prince. P. x
6 Curley, Edwin [ed.]. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. P. 76
7 Ibid. P. 78 ** Emphasis added in translation.
8 "Good" here refers to the conventional, Biblical and Aristotelian understanding.
9 Mansfield, Harvey C. [trans] Machiavelli, The Prince. P. 62
10 Ibid. P. 71
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In 1513, an Italian politician by the name of Niccolo Machiavelli distributed, though privately, a political treatise called The Prince. This treatise was, essentially, a guide on how to effectively rule one's country. It's important beforehand to define exactly what a Machiavellian is, before describing one. A Machiavellian is a leader who, through his power and influence, works toward the common good of his people. This can be done through fear, through deceit, even through manipulation. It is important to understand the main principle of a Machiavellian; the end justifies the means.... [tags: Machiavellian Leadership]
2412 words (6.9 pages)
- Arguably, the most Machiavellian leader to ever exist would be Joseph Stalin. He abided by three major Machiavellian methods that were stated in the Prince: the ends justifies the means, crush any opposition, and displaying a false character. Stalin had a plan for Russia and did everything in his power to achieve that plan. He wanted to transform Russia into a industrial superpower, a military superpower, and a political superpower. To achieve his goals he committed many horrible crimes against humanity.... [tags: Machiavelli, The Prince]
2033 words (5.8 pages)
- “It is much safer to be feared than loved.” This quotation was just a specimen of the harsh and very practical political annotation of the legendary historian, Niccolò Machiavelli – philosopher, patriot, diplomat, advisor and statesman. He was born as the son of a poor lawyer in 1498, but he never let boundaries restrict him. He still received an excellent humanist education from the University of Florence and was soon after appointed as the Second Chancellor of the Republic of Florence.2 His political importance to Florence would soon give him the opportunity to write what is disputed as one of the most significant works in history, The Prince.... [tags: The Prince]
1442 words (4.1 pages)
- Written around 1513, Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince is arguably one of the most famous treatises on politics in history. Dedicated to Lorenzo de ’Medici, ruler of Florence at the time, The Prince was not published until five years after Machiavelli’s death in 1532. It contains Machiavelli’s well-known analysis of politics: all politics is characteristically defined as the struggle of acquiring and maintaining power. Within his analysis, Machiavelli (1513) writes “One who adapts his policy to the times prospers” (p.... [tags: The Prince, Machiavelli]
1400 words (4 pages)
- Throughout history, The Prince has been considered one of the greatest guides to political wheelings and dealings. But, it wasn’t always like that, one could almost liken it to the modern day Wikileaks. It was a book that was part political satire and part exposé on how the people’s princes did their thing. The Prince also sparked the creation of the word machiavellian, an adjective that means cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics or in advancing one’s career. The question is, does Machiavelli actually deserve the term his writing has garnered him.... [tags: The Prince, Leadership, Politics]
1596 words (4.6 pages)
- Ethics in Machiavelli's The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian statesman and political philosopher. He was employed on diplomatic missions as defence secretary of the Florentine republic, and was tortured when the Medici returned to power in 1512. When he retired from public life he wrote his most famous work, The Prince (1532), which describes the means by which a leader may gain and maintain power. The Prince has had a long and chequered history and the number of controversies that it has generated is indeed surprising.... [tags: Machiavelli The Prince]
1513 words (4.3 pages)
- Cassirer, Nietzsche and Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince When the word "Renaissance" is mentioned, an image of love for antiquity learning and fine arts usually springs to one's mind. Yet this perception, however legitimate it may be in many areas of Renaissance human achievements, shatters in the face of Niccolò Machiavelli's masterpiece The Prince. Unlike his contemporary Baldassare Castiglione who exemplified subtlety, Machiavelli was ruthlessly practical, nonchalantly callous, and admirably seamless in his logics about the bloody art of political power.... [tags: Prince]
1164 words (3.3 pages)
- Desiderius Erasmus' The Praise of Folly Originally meant for private circulation, the Praise of Folly, by Desiderius Erasmus, scourges the abuses and follies of the various classes of society, especially the church. It is a cold-blooded, deliberate attempt to discredit the church, and its satire and stinging comment on ecclesiastical conditions are not intended as a healing medicine but a deadly poison. The Praise of Folly, by Desiderius Erasmus, takes on a very diverse form of life during sixteenth century Europe.... [tags: Desiderius Erasmus Praise of Folly]
1502 words (4.3 pages)
- The Powerful Truth of The Prince Before 1513 conventional thought defined a ruler as a man who used generosity, truth and justice to govern his kingdom. Machiavelli saw the conventional thought of the time as a fantasy and only applicable in a utopian society. His work The Prince shatters all previous political thought by stating that a ruler must not only use the traditionally accepted means of maintaining power but also be able to use brute force, deceit and even cruelty as the situation requires.... [tags: Machiavelli The Prince Essays]
1498 words (4.3 pages)
- Niccolo Machiavelli lived in Florence, Italy in the 1400’s. The country of Italy was divided into city-states that had their own leaders, but all pledged alliance to their king. In time in which great leaders were needed in order to help the development of a city-state and country, Machiavelli had a theory that man needed a leader to control them. In his book The Prince, he speaks of the perfect leader. I believe that man, by nature, is neither good nor evil. When a child comes out of its mother, one cannot tell whether or not that child will be a serial killer or win the Nobel Peace prize.... [tags: Machiavelli The Prince Essays]
653 words (1.9 pages)