Machiavelli's View of Human Nature

Topics: Political philosophy, Niccolò Machiavelli, Florence Pages: 6 (1100 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Machiavelli's view of human nature.

Machiavelli has long been required reading for everyone intrested in politics and power. In The Prince Niccolo M

achiavelli presents a unique view on governing a state. Machiavelli believes the ruling Prince should be the only authority that

should determine every aspect of the state and put in effect a policy which would serve his best interests. These interests

were gaining, maintaining, and expanding his political power. (Machiavelli,5). His understanding of human nature was a

complete contradiction of what everyone believed and taught. Machiavelli strongly promoted a physical society and felt

morality was not necessary but in fact stood in the way of an effectively governed principality. (Machiavelli,5). Although in

some cases Machiavelli's suggestions seem harsh and immoral one must remember that these views were derived from his

concern for the welfare of his country.

At Machiavelli's time everyone believed that an individual had much to offer to the well being of the state, Machiavelli

was quick to mock human nature. He truly believed that humans are not ready to serve their country unless there is a special

benefit to them as individuals. Machiavelli further goes on to question the loyalty of the citizens and advises the Prince that men

never keep their word to you so you should never keep youre word to them. (Machiavelli,6). However, Machiavelli did not

feel that a Prince should mistreat the citizens. This suggestion is only to serve the Prince's best interests.

If a prince can not be both feared and loved, Machiavelli suggests, it would be better for him to be feared by the citizens

within his own principality. He makes the generalization that men are, "ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceivers they shun danger

and greedy for profit".(Machiavelli, 54). He characterizes men as being self centered and not willing to act in the best interest of

the state. When the ruler is in danger they turn against him. Machiavelli reinforces the prince's need to be feared by stating: "

Men worry less about doing an injusry to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feard. For love is

secured by a bond of gratitude which men, wretched creatures that they are, break when it is to their advantage to do so; but

fear is strengthened by a dread of punishement which is always effective."

Thanks to his great experience in life, Machiavelli understood many aspects of human behavior. He suggests that in order

to win honor a prince must be

readily willing to deceive the citizens. One way is to "show his

esteem for talent actively encouraging the able and honouring those who

excel in their professions", this is because he thinks that by encouraging citizens to excel at their professions he would also be

encouraging them to work better in order to ameliorate the welfare of the country. (Machiavelli,56). These measures, although

they are carried out in deception, they would bring the prince honor and trust amongst the citizens, especially those who were

in a position where they could be his enemys.

In addition, Machiavelli assumes that a prince must also deceive those who

attempt to flatter him. When choosing wise men for his government and allowing them the freedom to speak the truth to him

only in the things which they are sked about. But he should also question them toughly and listen to what they say; then he

should make

up his own mind.(Machiavelli, 76).

Since each person will only advice the prince in accord to his own interests, the prince must act on his own consent.

Machiavelli discourages action to taken otherwise "...since men will always do badly by [the prince] unless they are forced to

be virtuous."13

Machiavelli actively promoted...
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