Machiavelli Aristotle Comparison

Topics: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotelian ethics Pages: 3 (917 words) Published: February 18, 2008
Machiavelli and Aristotle's writings on man, The Prince and Nichomachean Ethics respectively, and the management thereof contain divergent ideas of how man should act and reason. They have a similar view of the end: greatness, but the means which the two philosophers describe are distinctly different. Machiavelli writes about man as mainly concerned with power and self-assertion, while Aristotle desires a society of individuals, of honorable men. An excess of the power seeking Machiavellians and an undeniable scarcity of genuine individuals have created a contemporary society so out of touch with its own humanity that it desperately needs an application of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics.

Modern-day society overflows with Machiavellianism; it is saturated with men primarily concerned with self-advancement even if it means compromise of their own views and sense of self. According to Machiavelli, the first priority of the prince was protection of power. "If it will be seen that he laid solid foundations for his future power, and if his dispositions were of no avail, that was not his fault, but the extraordinary and extreme malignity of fortune," he describes, establishing clearly that the primary concern of a great man is his power and the future security thereof. Machiavelli writes that a Prince, faced with issues that might lose him his state and the support of its people, "may with less hesitation abandon himself to [the ideas advocated by] them." It is obvious that Machiavelli was no enemy of self-sacrifice and compromise. He believed strongly that "[men] will be successful who direct [their] actions according to the spirit of the times." This indicates a change in self interest, an abandonment of his individual views to conform to the perpetually changing times. The "times" are based simply upon the public opinion. An era is defined by popular culture, a derivative of public opinion. Therefore, Machiavelli advocates a Prince who adjusts according...
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