An Analysis of Machiavelli's principles
It has been the general outlook among political philosophers that there is a particular association between moral goodness and legitimate authority. Many authors believed that the use of political power was only correct if it was employed by a ruler whose personal moral character was strictly virtuous. Therefore, rulers were advised that if they wanted to be a successful ruler, they must behave according to the conventional standards of ethical goodness. It was thought that rulers did good when they did well; they earned the privilege to be obeyed and respected when they showed themselves to be virtuous and morally decent.
It is this moralistic view of authority that Machiavelli criticizes in his best-known dissertation, The Prince. For Machiavelli, there is no moral foundation on which to judge the difference between legitimate and illegitimate uses of power. Rather, authority and power are fundamentally equal: whoever has power has the right to rule; but goodness does not guarantee power and the good person has no more influence by virtue of being good. In direct conflict to a moralistic theory of politics, Machiavelli says that the only real concern of the political ruler is the acquisition and maintenance of power; although he talks less about power than about "maintaining the state." Machiavelli presents a incisive criticism of the concept of authority by arguing that the legitimate rights of reigning adds nothing to the genuine possession of power. The Prince claims to reflect the unpleasant political realism of an author who is aware that decency and entitlement are not enough to win and maintain political office based on direct experience with the Florentine government. For Machiavelli, power typically defines political activity, and it is necessary for any successful ruler to know how power is to be used. Machiavelli believes that only by means of the appropriate use of... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2007, 04). Machiavelli-Ideals of the Renaissance: an Analysis of Machiavelli's Principles. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 04, 2007, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Machiavelli-Ideals-Renaissance-Analysis-Machiavellis-Principles-114294.html
"Machiavelli-Ideals of the Renaissance: an Analysis of Machiavelli's Principles" StudyMode.com. 04 2007. 04 2007 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Machiavelli-Ideals-Renaissance-Analysis-Machiavellis-Principles-114294.html>.
"Machiavelli-Ideals of the Renaissance: an Analysis of Machiavelli's Principles." StudyMode.com. 04, 2007. Accessed 04, 2007. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Machiavelli-Ideals-Renaissance-Analysis-Machiavellis-Principles-114294.html.