Machiavelli looks at man from a leader's point of view. Machiavelli's philosophy about the nature of man is that man possesses both good and bad qualities, but will lean towards his own self-interests when all things are equal: thus man is a fickle creature. Machiavelli's view of human nature influences his view of government.
Machiavelli writes, "that man has qualities that will bring him either praise or blame" and because a prince is a man; therefore, he will also exhibit these qualities. A prince should put his good qualities on public display and be clever enough to hide his immoral failings from his subjects; but, if these vices are necessary to maintain his state, he should embrace them; because this appearance of a strong state by his subjects gives them a false sense of security.
He states in paragraph fourteen that "since they (men) are a sad lot, and keep no faith with you, you in turn are under no obligation to keep it with them". Machiavelli believes that men will lie, cheat, or steal if it has some benefit to them, and while a prince shows them his benefits, they are devoted to him. He also contends that because of this sad condition of man, it is alright for a prince to break his word when such fidelity would damage him or when the reasons that made him promise are no longer relevant. This advise would not be sound if man was upright; but because he is treacherous and would not keep his promise, a prince should not consider himself bound to keep promises to him.
He asserts that it is necessary for a ruler, when he is with his army, to not worry about being considered harsh because armies are never kept united and prepared for military action, unless their leader is thought to be ruthless. Men who are fearful of punishment will be apt to obey commands without hesitation. Machiavelli believes the only way to ensure loyalty of men is to be respected and greatly feared by them. This fear will keep his men from dissension whether warfare is going...
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