Renaissance Thinkers

Page 1 of 10

Renaissance Thinkers

By | June 2006
Page 1 of 10
The conceptualization of civil society by Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau

differ in ways that affect liberties and distribution of power. While many of each individual

arguments are convincing on their own, none have a comprehensive approach that seem to be

able to hold its own in practical application. However, as we observe the modern world today,

it is clear that a combination of these proposed methods to organize civil society endures while

facing the harsh tests of reality, escaping the perfect world of theory.

In the Prince, Machiavelli presents a ruler who is ruthless, which in turn makes him

efficient. The prince is primarily concerned with assuring stability and sovereignty of his

reign and society while he rules. The ruler murders, lies, and steals in order to accomplish

what must be done. "Leader virtue" is what Machiavelli presents as "the ability of the prince

to carve from disorder and uncertainty of fortune a political order that incurs on people's

continuing support for the prince's regime."(87) It is interesting that "it is not always

possible or likely that the prince can sustain moral values traditionally considered

essential in normal, day-to-day settings...the science of Machiavelli is derived from a study

whose main objective is to acquire power and to use it to create orderly societies that

serve people's vital interests."(87) In this way, the famous phrase, "the ends justifies the

means" derives its significance. The ruler can use whatever tactics and methods to

accomplish his goals as long as his society is kept happy and their material possessions safe.

With the ruler not bound by high sounding ideals or contraints, he is rendered flexible that

empowers him to be able to control many aspects of his society to keep it stable and secure.

Departing from the cold, practical, and high-ideal-lacking method of Machiavelli, in

Hobbes's...