Comparing the Concepts of Seeming and Being in Relation to Political Power and Leadership in The Prince and The Republic

Comparing the Concepts of Seeming and Being in Relation to Political Power and Leadership in The Prince and The Republic

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Comparing the Concepts of Seeming and Being in Relation to Political Power and Leadership in The Prince and The Republic


9. Machiavelli says the prince only has to seem good, not be good. Socrates insists that seeming is bad, being is good. Is it better to remain in the cave with Machiavelli, or see the light with Socrates? Write three pages for Machiavelli and against Socrates, write another three pages against Machiavelli and for Socrates.

Both Niccolò Machiavelli and Plato, in their works The Prince and The Republic (respectively), address the concepts of seeming and being in relation to political power and leadership, however they do so in two distinct manners. In the Republic, Socrates insists that seeming is bad, and being is good. Using a parable of people in a cave, he states that the only way to know the difference between what seems and what actually is reality is to experience it in its purest form, instead of through images. Machiavelli, on the other hand outlines the different ways that a prince could rise to power, and justifies any and all means that a prince could take. He states that a prince only has to seem good when it fits his purposes, not actually be good. He encourages an aspiring prince to be deceitful and conniving in order to gain and maintain power. Before concluding which political theorist is correct, it is interesting to examine whether it would be better to remain in the cave with Machiavelli or see the light with Socrates.
The citizens of Socrates’ Republic are divided into three classes. Those who are deemed fit to rule, the philosopher/rulers, are those who have been chosen to pass through several stages of training and preparation. They are the most fit to rule, because the...


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...ity really is, and if they don’t have the wisdom to do this on their own, there are people who will guide them. It can only be concluded that seeming good, as Machiavelli advocates, is bad because it is essentially deceives the citizens. Additionally, when one seems, they are acting in the interest of only themselves. Being good, as Socrates promotes, is the better of the two, because when one is actually good, they will act in the interest of society as a whole, instead of merely their own selfish interests. It is a far better thing to emerge from the cave with Socrates, to see the light, to gain the knowledge, and the ability to share it with others.


Works Cited



Plato. The Republic. Trans. Richard W. Sterling and William C. Scott. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.

Machiavelli, Niccolo The Prince New York: Oxford University Press, 1952

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