Essay on The Prince vs. the Republic

1024 Words May 3rd, 2007 5 Pages
Machiavelli's criticism of Plato's The Republic states that a ruler who possesses an inherent quality of that which is consistently good will never have the authority to rule his or her people successfully. If a ruler always treats his subjects in a manner, which can be qualified as good, then he will ultimately meet his demise, as his subjects will rise against him. Machiavelli claims that it is unrealistic to assume that all the people of a kingdom will conduct themselves in a manner that will be consistent with the ruling of a "good" leader. Such republics or principalities do not exist in reality and are entirely hypothetical situations.
Plato treats his republic as a means of demonstrating that there is a certain way for all people
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He believes that the knowledge and application of the good will lead to a perfect state. However, this cannot be said to be realistic, as despite the education of the good, one's desires will ultimately overcome the need to be good and the state will collapse. If the rulers are only thinking of the overall good of the state, their own needs will not be met, which can lead to unhappiness on the part of the rulers and ultimately to the downfall of the system. Machiavelli implies in his criticism that the needs of the ruler must be met in order to maintain a stable state, he must trust his instincts and base desires in order to remain true to himself. If he does not, as Plato states and does as he ought to, not as he wishes to, then he will be living a lie within himself and not rule as he should. Without being true to what human nature tells one to do, an uprising either within the ruler or of the subjects will take place and the state cannot stay afloat.
As Plato states in the republic "the desires of the less respectable majority are controlled by the desires and the wisdom of the superior minority" (Part 5, 431d), however one cannot suppress all of the desires forever and the people will finally realize the oppression that they are experiencing and rise against the "superior minority". The minority will not possess the power needed to control the "less respectable
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