The Contrast Between Machiavelli's Writings and Lao-Tzu's Opinion

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Martin Martinez
Eng 151-1856

The Contrast between Machiavelli’s writings and Lao-Tzu’s opinion

Lao-Tzu’s writings offered a basis for Taoism, a religion officially founded by Chang Tao-ling in about 150 A.D. However, the Tao-te Ching is an ethical document as much as about good government as it is about moral behavior. Niccolo Machiavelli was an aristocrat who had his ups and downs according the shifts in power in Florence. His writings encourage a prince to secure power by almost any means necessary. Lao-Tzu’s Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching and Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Qualities of the Prince both have main goals of how to mold a better prince. Their views on government and the ways they attain their goals each differ in method. Machiavelli and Lao-Tzu have very different aspects about how a prince should govern his people. Machiavelli dwells over the fact, whether it is better to be loved or feared. He believes that the best way to maintain control over the people is by fear. Machiavelli says man is a sorry lot and are untrustworthy. In order to gain control over his people he uses fear. ”[M]en are less hesitant about harming someone who makes himself loved then who makes himself feared….” (44) Since man is so hesitant to betray someone who they fear, the prince remains in control of his people. The terror of punishment keeps the people in order, which enables a smooth running government. According to Machiavelli this fear is the only way for a prince to govern his people and avoid harm. Lao-Tzu’s thoughts are completely different from Machiavelli’s. Tzu believes in a smaller government, where the people actual govern themselves. He believes that the people should feel equal to the ruler and that the ruler must place himself below the people. Tzu stresses self control throughout the reading. Unlike Machiavelli he believes it is better to be loved than feared and he states that “if you want to lead the...
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