A Comparison Of The Apology And Niccolo Machiavelli And The Prince

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Plato’s The Apology and Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince provide two opposing views of the ideal ruler and government. The seminal works attempt to uncover the true definition of justice which becomes the basis from which they craft their vision of effective civil leadership. The two men, both influenced by the times of similar conflict and chaos in which they worked, espouse divergent beliefs regarding proper and effective authority. This difference is rooted in a fundamental incongruity between their views of human nature. Socrates, as an ancient Greek philosopher and teacher, views the individual as a sacred and beautiful being capable of reason and great wisdom while Machiavelli believes that the people are inferior to their leaders…show more content…
As a result, Machiavelli was unconcerned with justice as fairness, rather he regarded any action that strengthened the prince or the state as being just. He believed that the goal of preserving power was just and therefore any action taken to achieve this end was in turn just. This notion of justice stands in stark contrast to Socrates’ views as conveyed in The Apology. Plato’s account of Socrates’ defense against charges of corrupting the youth and heresy, reveal the ancient teacher’s view of justice as fairness and support of rule of law. In the Apology, Socrates faces a moral dilemma: to either accept his punishment for crimes he did not commit or to accept the assistance of his friends and escape death by the hand of the state. His choice to accept death in order to maintain rule of law reveals his belief of justice. He beliefs his punishment to be just not because he committed the crimes but because his sentence came through a legal process to which he consented. By sparing his life, he would weaken the justice system of Athens which he values above his own existence. This difference between the two men’s beliefs regarding justice draws the sharpest contrast in their views of effective leadership and government. The fundamental incongruity between Machiavelli and Socrates stems from what they value in a ruler. The most salient difference is their ordering of justice and efficacy.

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