Lao-Tzu and Machiavelli on Government and Those Who Govern

Topics: Laozi, Political philosophy, Taoism Pages: 3 (1056 words) Published: November 14, 2012
Lao-Tzu and Machiavelli on Government and Those Who Govern Machiavelli, in “The Prince” and Lao-Tzu in “”Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching” have very opposing views. In their writings, they differ on topics such as qualities of a leader, functions of government, and human nature and the world around them. Here I will describe each of their views and compare the differences. Both Machiavelli and Lao-Tzu are philosophers writing in regard to Government, giving advice in ways that they feel people should be governed. Although they both composed their writings long ago, some of the advice given can still be put to good use in our modern world today. Machiavelli and Lao-Tzu are both very intelligent men, and have very clear perspectives on the topics they write about. On the topic of “Qualities of a leader”, Machiavelli has such strong opinions as to how a ruler should carry himself. He writes about whether it is best to be loved or feared, ultimately coming to a conclusion that a leader must be feared in order to govern his people. In his opinion, a leader who is loved is not doing his job. Machiavelli is almost demanding and has a strong need to control. He advises to be a stern leader, obtaining and maintaining power. He seems very power hungry. He discusses trustworthiness, good and bad reputations, and being knowledgeable in history and military. He believes that a leader needs to be perceived and strong and powerful. Machiavelli takes credit for all good in the government. To Machiavelli it is important to not appear weak to others, especially the people. He does not trust his people, and his role is a dictator. Lao-Tzu’s opinion on the qualities of a leader is very different than that of Machiavelli’s. His idea of a leader is compassionate, modest and moral. He believes that a leader should be loved by his people. It’s important to him to be content and confident, stating, “Because he

 


  believes in himself, he doesn’t try to convince others....

Cited: Lao-Tzu “Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching” A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A Jacobus. Trans. Steven Mitchell. 7th Ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. pp 22-31 Machiavelli “The Prince”. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A Jacobus. Trans. Steven Mitchell. 7th Ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. Pp 40-54
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