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.
Socrates believed the possession of virtue was a highly valued characteristic. Although Socrates gives no clear definition of virtue it can be inferred that he is referring to the moral responsibility to do the right thing despite your own personal interest. According to Socrates, an ideal leader should be virtuous in their decisions in order to create a society founded on justice. To Machiavelli it is more important to act like you
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In the fourteenth century, the humanist philosopher Francesco Petrarch wrote a letter entitled How a Ruler Ought to Govern His Sate. Nearly a century later, another philosopher by the name of Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a book about governing, The Prince. The two documents show many similarities in content and theme. While the two wrote in similar subject matter, it is clear that these philosophers possess distinctly different viewpoints on how a ruler should govern. In Petrarch’s How a Ruler Ought to Govern His Sate and Machiavelli’s The Prince, both philosophers possess different opinions on how a ruler ought to govern. In particular Machiavelli pays specific attention to the importance of
Despite living thousands of years ago, Socrates and Machiavelli were both influential thinkers whose works are still relevant today. These two great thinkers and philosophers wrote about and extensively studied political systems. The influences of their work can still be seen today in constitutions and governments around the world. Were it not for their transcendent works, there is a real chance today’s systems of government would look very different. While no governments today exactly match those advocated for by Machiavelli and Socrates, their writings surely influenced other thinkers later on in history. Both of these philosophers advocated for different leadership structures with the hope of creating fair and long-lasting states.
Niccolò Machiavelli, a Florentine philosopher and political aficionado from the 16th century and Socrates, a classical Athenian savant who lived during the 5th century B.C., are both judged as being forefathers to modern western political science and thought. The two great men both came from erratic epochs within their respective nations of Italy and Greece: wars, transitions of power, and domestic conflicts left their countries void of sustainable leadership and in desperate need of a brighter future. But despite being from equally hopeless times, their theories on how their societies (and ultimately, future ones) should function in order to prosper, are divergent. In this essay, I will argue that Socrates would
Socrates, Machiavelli, and Rousseau are three philosophers discussing political ethics from entirely different perspectives. This paper argues that Socrates, Machiavelli, and Rousseau are all idealists regarding their stances on political ethics. First, this paper argues that Socrates is an idealist due his belief that the current government has much more potential than it is currently reaching, and that the government could eventually be changed. Second, this paper argues that Rousseau is an idealist because of his unrealistically positive view of the natural state of humanity and negative view of society. Lastly, this paper argues that Machiavelli is idealistic because of the overwhelming, impossible number of criteria that the Prince
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.
On the heels of the Peloponnesian war, Socrates was blamed for corrupting the youth and disrespecting the Athenian gods and Athenian values. His defense or “Apology” and reaction after he was sentenced to death in “Crito” demonstrate his most basic philosophy and ideals of what a government should truly be like. Yet in a vastly different situation, Machiavelli, who lived during the renaissance of Italy experienced constant shifts of power which he wrote his book, “The Prince”. Machiavelli writes about how a leader or prince should conduct himself in order to keep and efficiently run a republic or principality. Although Socrates’ texts on the surface deal with his accusations, the texts give great insight as to how he thinks a government
Socrates and Machiavelli both existed during times of political unrest. Both men sought different means of political leadership, and could be seen as activists of their times. During times of war and unrest, it was a bold choice that both men made to stand up for their beliefs and speak out against the system. However, Socrates wouldn’t have agreed with Machiavelli’s means and concepts of the Prince and his ideas for how a political establishment should function.
For example, one thing Machiavelli mentions is that it is necessary for a Prince to appear “merciful, faithful, humane, trustworthy, and religious,” to his subjects. However, Machiavelli believes that actually having those qualities is irrelevant, as long as it looks like he is to his people. Socrates would not approve of this sort of deception of the population. When Socrates discusses wisdom and his quest for knowledge, he talks about how when he talked to both the poets and the craftsmen, they thought themselves knowledgeable in many aspects that they were not, which led him to conclude that true wisdom is knowing the limitations of knowledge. This common theme for Socrates, the acknowledgement of one’s shortcomings, is diametrically opposed to Machiavelli’s version of a Prince, who appears virtuous regardless of how accurate that is. Because of this, Socrates would not agree with Machiavelli on what makes a good Prince.
The Bible teaches love, compassion and generosity. Niccolo Machiavelli found the Bible’s lessons idealistic and unrealistic for leaders. Machiavelli wrote his book, The Prince, to show the ruling Meddici family that the world is not a fairy tale. Prior to Machiavelli writing The Prince, the majority of books depicted people as virtuous and ethical. However, The Prince is not the only work of literature that manifests Machiavellian techniques. William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar utilizes similar methods. As shown in Julius Caesar and The Prince, a leader who follows Machiavelli’s advice will accomplish their goals; if the leader does not adhere to Machiavelli’s recommendations, then the leader will not fulfill his aspiration.
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’ contradicting views are presented when he claims, “Not from money does virtue come, but from virtue comes money and all of the other good things for human beings both privately and publicly” (Apology, 30b). Socrates disputes that fortuna comes from virtue and presents a cause and effect relationship, contrary to the interconnected relationship as presented by Machiavelli. A prince should use philosophical thinking to question and explore many ideas in order to amass success. Just having money and luck, on the other hand, will not lead to more success because the prince is unable to think about how he can execute his rulings. Through his views, he connotes how the ruler cannot start his reign with both fortuna and virtue. This contradicts with Machiavelli’s prince because Socrates disputes the lack of emphasis on fortune.
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