Machiavelli and Socrates Socrates and Niccolò Machiavelli lived in two very different, yet similar time periods. Socrates was born in 469 B.C. and Machiavelli was born in 1469. Even though these time periods are very far apart, they both lived in a time of war and political fragmentation. I believe that Socrates would not support Machiavelli’s ideas presented in The Prince and the political system that it would lead to. I believe that Socrates would not support these ideas for multiple reasons: Socrates is supportive of democracy and people having the right to learn new things, Socrates would not support the idea of princes not using their knowledge and he would question their wisdom, the state will become lazy if everyone fears the prince enough to not challenge him, and Socrates would also not agree with the princes falsely portraying qualities about themselves. Socrates is supportive of democracy and people having the right to learn new things. In Socrates’ apology he was put on trial for his teachings and influence on the youth. After talking to an oracle, Socrates decided to go out and seek wise men. He says, “so I had to go, in considering what the oracle was saying, to all those reputed to know something” (Socrates 22a). Socrates goes and questions these men and decides that he is wiser than them. The sons of the wealthiest people also follow Socrates around and watch him question people and then go out and do the same. The people against Socrates say that he is
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First, he said a leader must be liked by enough of his people to avoid any type of uprising. He believed that anyone who spoke out against the prince must be gotten rid of. This is a major violation of one’s rights and something Socrates would have been outraged by. Plato starts The Apology by discussing how Socrates would teach the youth about his ideal government while openly criticizing the government of Athens. Socrates believed this type of free speech was necessary to form a fair and moral nation. Socrates also uses his trial as a symbol of free speech as he continued to speak out against the government there. He certainly would not have supported Machiavelli’s attempts to suppress free speech. Socrates goes so far as to say, “I made my defense speech like this: I much prefer to die having made my defense speech in this way than to live in that way” (The Apology 20). Here we see that Socrates is willing to die if it means he can speak freely. He truly thought free speech was the only way to check the government’s power and for the people to have a voice. At the time of his trial, speaking out against the Athenian government was almost unheard of and was considered a form of treason. Socrates wanted to use his trial as a way to criticize his leaders in the hope that more people would follow his lead. He believed free speech was necessary to
As philosophers, both Socrates and Niccolo Machiavelli developed theories in response to the warring political environment around them. However, the theories and principles developed by the two philosophers are vastly different in regard to the concept of truth, Socrates would hate Machiavelli’s model prince due to Machiavelli’s manipulative view of truth. While Socrates desired a state that focuses on fundamental truth and ethical decisions, Machiavelli advocated a state led by a pragmatic, logical, and even cruel decision maker. The difference between the two theories is stark, not only would Socrates disagree with Machiavelli’s concept of a prince, he would view the prince with utter
statement, however, can be interpreted in two ways- in a Machiavellian state where one can accept this idea then strive for a world filled with order and stability, or a Socratic state where people should be just and fair even though they do not live in that kind of world. Socrates believes to an extent that this world is not the one that gets to judge you, but it is in fact in the afterlife- where one faces the gods- that matters. He would see Machiavelli’s prince as illegitimate depending on how he obtained and maintained power. For Socrates, a Prince that enables the suppression of ideas and of questioning is one that has no merit and no wisdom. There are three points in which Socrates would disagree with Machiavelli’s tactics. One being the use of violence- an inherent injustice to Socrates- on any person. The other is the use of money or material to bribe enemies, turning them into temporary friends. Lastly, Socrates would take issue with responsibility- to not only ones self, but for ones people. It is in these three points that which the ideals and virtues held so close to Socrates are destroyed in the name of peace and order.
Socrates would view Machiavelli’s concept of a prince as ignorant and built upon falsehoods as seen through Machiavelli’s explanations of holding new principalities. From the very start of “The Prince” Machiavelli explains that hereditary principalities are always easier to rule, because of the fact that “it is sufficient only for the prince to maintain the customs of those who ruled before him” (Machiavelli, Ch. 2). In contrast Socrates in the “Apology” passionately fights against the status quo. He likens himself to that as a gadfly of the Athenian state stinging the large horse “great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life” (Apology, 30e). Socrates finds that a leader who grows content and maintains customs as those before him is foolish as he does not think for himself. A truly enlightened prince would question and challenge everything that comes his way. An enlightened prince would
Machiavelli and Socrates agree on very little. While an initial reading of the two may elicit some comparisons, the goals of their respective philosophies rely on different foundations, and would therefore culminate in very different political results for society. Socrates would likely see in the Prince a selfish ruler, while Machiavelli would see in Socrates a dangerous idealist whose ideas would lead to instability and the death of the state in which these ideas were implemented. Machiavelli’s philosophy of the Prince would not satisfy Socrates because instead of focusing on right action, the Prince is encouraged to put political expediency and self-preservation above all else. In addition, the type of political system that Machiavelli’s
While Socrates and Machiavelli lived over 1900 years apart, the dilemmas their societies faced draw many parallels. In Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, he demonstrates a wide-ranging set of rules and principles to be followed by a leader to ensure the steady maintenance of authority and stability in a state or principality. Not only would Socrates be opposed to many of the espoused views in “The Prince” on what creates a successful ruler, thereby society, but had he lived in Machiavelli’s “ideal” state, he would openly question and rebel against the cogs that maintain its stability, possibly even advocating its upheaval. Socrates would most ardently disagree with Machiavelli’s depiction of the supremacy of the prince and state over its
Socrates and Niccolo Machiavelli were both incredibly influential in the development of Western philosophical thought, specifically in relation to ethics in politics. Machiavelli’s text The Prince, written during a period of political turmoil in Italy, outlines the necessary steps a prince must take to obtain both power and authority. Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates assesses the moral and ethical guidelines an ideal leader should possess through the beliefs and teachings of Socrates. While both texts had similar objectives, their opinions were quite contradictory. Socrates would have found Machiavelli’s concept of the “Prince”, and the government he creates to be both unethical and fundamentally flawed. Socrates places higher value on the maintenance and creation of justice, while Machiavelli stresses the process of obtaining and preserving power, unethical or not. Due to their differences in their ideas of virtue, knowledge, and justice it can be concluded that Socrates would not be supportive of the government in which The Prince proposes.
Machiavelli writes The Prince centuries after Plato documents Socrates in Crito and The Apology. Despite the different time periods, both Machiavelli and Socrates experience times of turmoil where the concept of democracy was questioned. However, the different time periods cause the views and purposes of Machiavelli’s writing to largely differ from Socrates. Machiavelli writes in a time of turmoil where Italy was a bunch of small, fragmented states and when the Medici’s struggled to regain power after being expelled. This causes his views to be more cynical and pessimistic in comparison to Socrates. If Socrates were to read The Prince, he would disagree with Machiavelli’s beliefs and deem his portrayal of a prince as immoral. Their
Socrates was wise in respect to the fact that he never accepted a “truth” that was told to him, without getting incontestable evidence to back it up. He made the realization that people believed in things without even knowing where their ideas came from. In ancient Athens, citizens believed in many gods and myths associated with them.
Socrates and Machiavelli are both very influential philosophers and two of the great minds of their time. However, both of these men had their own separate ideas that did not completely agree with one another. Machiavelli was born into a Renaissance time period of fragmented politics, lots of bloodshed, and angry citizens while Socrates grew up in a time of political adjustment and instability in Athens. Machiavelli constructed The Prince as a political pamphlet to his friend Lorenzo de ' Medici on how a prince would successfully rule his land or kingdom most effectively. This guide consisted of ideas that involved cheating and lying to keep people happy and asserting dominance over others. The Greek philosopher Socrates, on the other
Throughout the course of history, political philosophy has been dominated by two great thinkers: Niccolo Machiavelli and Socrates. Although both highly influential, Socrates and Machiavelli may not see eye to eye. When it comes to the idea of how an “ideal prince” would act, Machiavelli believes that they should lead through fear and follow a thirst for power, no matter the cost. Socrates, on the other hand, believes that they should lead through morality and have a healthy thirst for knowledge. Overall, these two would not exactly agree on what the actions of a good leader would look like or how a political system should be run.
In Machiavelli’s case, it is unclear whether or not his work is serious and of his own beliefs or rather a satire argument, desperate to get a response. Regardless, this is a possible explanation of his pessimism towards society and his exaggerated use for violence and manipulation for control. Plato’s account of Socrates was during a time of political transition which also resulted in a weak political system at the time. The newfound democracy was based on a tradition of obeying the gods, and by Socrates questioning democracy, he was viewed as questioning the gods. However, this was far from the case. Socrates was merely basing his beliefs on an Oracle which ultimately stated he was the wisest of men because he was aware of his ignorance. This sparked his quest for knowledge and justice by questioning the leaders of his government and spreading his beliefs or lack thereof to others. This explains why Socrates would disapprove of Machiavelli’s concept of a prince because of the contexts in which each of their values were created. Socrates strongly believes in morality to acquire justice in his ideal government, while Machiavelli believes morality is the downfall of a leader, and must be deceitful to acquire power. Knowing the context of each work, however, helps one understand their viewpoints better and why Socrates would disagree with Machiavelli.
Due to various reasons, including those inherent in the difference in purpose between these two works, Socrates would see Machiavelli’s concept of a prince as flawed, due to its focus on an unworthy goal. Machiavelli’s basic concept of a prince must be kept in the context of an individual’s search for absolute power above all else. Machiavelli characterized his work as “understanding the deeds of great men” (The Prince, Dedication, 5), and as opposed to the purely philosophical motives of Socrates, this work is about the practical methods to gaining power. The concept itself is that an individual who probably already has some power of their own, but not of the type or gravity that they’d like, sees a lucky opportunity and seizes it, using their own wiles, skill, and lack of empathy to wield the opportunity in order to gain power over others and establish a princedom, following some general guidelines that Machiavelli sets out for effective takeover and ruling. In his text, Machiavelli spends an entire chapter discussing Cesare Borgia