G. Aaron Rangel
What is Machiavelli’s attitude toward mankind? Does his view of man’s relation to fortune reflect optimism or pessimism?
Machiavelli, a 15th ce writer and philosopher, had a negative and distrustful attitude towards mankind as he writes in his book “The Prince” about how to be the most effective ruler. His writing style throughout the book reflects that he was pessimistic towards man’s fortune. In Machiavelli’s most famous book, he writes to prospective “new princes” on how to be as successful as possible, without taking into account the morality of any of the actions. For example, in chapter 15, he writes that “it is necessary for a prince, if he wishes to maintain himself, to learn to be able to not be good, and to use it and not use it according to necessity” (Machiavelli 93). In addition, he also believed that men were generally to receive misfortune as they “[were generally] ungrateful, fickle, hypocrites, and dissemblers, evaders of danger, lovers of gain” (Machiavelli 101). He believed that during good times, man would likely seek to be friends with fellow neighbors but that in times of adversity, they would only seek out their own well being and be selfless even if one had previously given them a favor. For this reason, he supports the fact that a prince is better off being feared than loved showing pessimism in the nature of humans. He writes, “Love endures by a bond which men, being scoundrels, may break whenever it serves their advantage to do so; but fear is supported by the dread of pain, which is ever present” (Machiavelli 106). Machiavelli supported keeping people in fear to better control them. Overall, Machiavelli shows that in order to be an effective prince, one must disregard the morality of one’s actions in certain times for the welfare of the state. This strong belief shows that Machiavelli’s best interests are in the state and not in the general population. Because he...
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