Machiavellian Folly in The Prince Essay

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Machiavellian Folly in The Prince 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…show more content…
2 Humans, according to Machiavelli, are not the morally grounded beings the Bible espouses them to be. He writes in The Prince: "For one can say this generally of men: that they are ungrateful, fickle, pretenders and dissemblers, evaders of danger, eager for gain.3" Clearly, Machiavelli argues that man is precarious - a being of dubious morals and selfish desires. Hobbes agreed with this analysis, and took it one step further. According to Hobbes, all mankind has a restless and perpetual desire for power, which "ceaseth only with death"4. Moreover, man can never be satisfied with the power he has. Hobbes writes: ... [man] cannot assure the power and the means to live well, which he hath present, without the acquisition of more [power]. Man's first need is to provide security for himself. Past experience and reason dictate that he will do this by any means necessary - even if it means killing everyone around him. Critics argue that Hobbes and Machiavelli are too pessimistic; but they would both beg to differ. To both Hobbes and Machiavelli, Aristotelian virtue is a deception; it can never be reached. Men do not want to be good; they want to lie, they want to cheat, and they want to kill. To expect otherwise would be contrary to their hostile nature. To both Hobbes and Machiavelli, political analysis must begin by identifying the human being for what he really is - a self-interested, self-seeking
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