Ruling the State: Machiavelli Versus Lao-Tzu

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 158
  • Published : March 2, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Both Niccolo Machiavelli in The Qualities of the Prince (1513) and Lao-Tzu in the Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching (6th century B.C) give sharply contrasting advice on how to rule the state. For Lao-tzu, the way a person can become a great ruler is to “understand that the universe is forever out of control, and that trying to dominate events goes against the amount of Tao.” (26) He believe if you are at one with yourself there’s no need for anyone approval, because if you accept youself then the whole world should accept you too. (27) On the other hand Machiavelli, advise the ruler must train himself in time for war in two ways: “one by action, the other by the mind.” (40) Machiavelli states that learning his own country and others around, how things operate, and the way people think will teach you how to find and trap your enemy, know all your advantages to lead troops, and organize. (41) Machiavelli was more precise like things to be done in a certain order, and was more out to attack and control. He believed that in strong government control by a prince who acted more in terms of practicality and maintaining power than through moral principles. On contrary Lao-Tzu took a more individualistic, carefree approach, believing that a ruler will be respected and followed if he does not act powerfully and force rules and issues.

Although similarities between Machiavelli and Lao-Tzu may be difficult to detect, their views are both very extreme. Machiavelli believes that the prince should have total control and do anything to gain power. He makes it known that the only priorities of a prince are war, the institutions, and discipline. His writings describes how it is more important for a prince to be practical than moral. This is shown where he writes, "in order to maintain the state he is often obliged to act against his promise, against charity, against humanity, and against religion" (47). However, Lao-Tzu stated “If you want to govern the people, you must place...
tracking img