Analysis of The Prince
Niccoló Machiavelli, famous Italian political philosopher and author of The Prince, was the first to develop the idea that political morality differs from and is not bounded by the usual ethical norms and insists that power is the decisive factor in political life. Within The Prince, Machiavelli blames earlier political writers for having discussed republics and principalities that have never been seen or known to exist in reality and for concerning themselves with how men ought to live instead of how men actually live. Because Machiavelli bases his arguments on inherent human character, he argues that people are undependable by nature and maintains that it is better to be feared than loved if a union of the two is not possible. Machiavelli’s notion of maintaining leadership through fear instead of compassion is the most suitable virtue for sustaining power, because he accurately discerns the nature of men to turn against their prince when remote danger is neighboring. Such fear employed by leaders would exhibit greater loyalty amongst citizens, because it is easy to break a bond of love and leniency when a situation arises, but the fear of punishment is always effective.
Machiavelli argues that commitments made in comfort are not always kept during moments of uncertainty, however commitments made out of fear are ordinarily kept out of the feasibility of punishment. He argues, “And men are less hesitant about harming someone who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared because love is held together by a chain of obligation which, since men are wretched creatures, is broken on every occasion in which their own interest are concerned; but fear is sustained by a dread of punishment which will never abandon you” (339). The essence of Machiavelli’s argument is that people are fundamentally self-influenced and will defend themselves before they defend their state. Machiavelli’s perception on the nature of men is...
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