Machiavelli and Rousseau's Views on Human Nature and Government

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Machiavelli and Rousseau, both significant philosophers, had distinctive views on human nature and the relationship between the government and the governed. Their ideas were radical at the time and remain influential in government today. Their views on human nature and government had some common points and some ideas that differed. Machiavelli’s views were drastically different from other humanists at his time. He strongly promoted a secular society and felt morality was not necessary but stood in the way of a successfully governed state. He stated that people generally tended to work for their own best interests and gave little thought to the well being of the state. He distrusted citizens saying, “In time of adversity, …show more content…
In conclusion, Machiavelli believed that a leader had to be feared and powerful in order to flourish. In contrast, Rousseau had a generally positive view on human nature though a rather negative view on modern society. He proposed that humans had once been solitary beings and had learned to be political. He believed that human nature was not fixed and was subject to changed. Likewise, he believed that man was good when in a state of nature, but was corrupted by society as shown in his quotation, "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Also differentiating himself from other humanists, Rousseau taught that the sciences and the arts were not beneficial to man. Rousseau believed the general will must always be right and to obey the general will is to be free. In sum Machiavelli and Rousseau lived entirely different lives even though they didn’t really agree w each other’s ideas they did have similarities in their thoughts. Maviavelli and Rousseau both disliked factions, groups with a political purpose, often described as a "party within a party." Both of them distinguish between "conflicts that serve to protect and even invigorate the foundational principles of liberty from those that seek to advance private interests."They believe that conflict between the public and their leaders is necessary at times. Machiavelli and