Machiavelli, Plato, Aristotle

Topics: Virtue, Virtue ethics, Prince Pages: 4 (1468 words) Published: June 23, 2013
POLS 3310 Tu/Th 4-5:30
Final Paper

Machiavelli in his book “The Prince” seems to sap the very foundations of morality and stops at nothing short of capsizing the entire edifice of religion. His thoughts resonate with a loathing of true virtue and propagate corrupted politics. Actually, today the term Machiavellianism is used to refer to the use of deceitfulness to advance one’s goals or desires. In ‘The Prince”, Machiavelli breaks from the classical view of virtue as represented by his philosophic predecessors Plato and Aristotle. Whereas his predecessors held virtue in an ideal environment (idealism), Machiavelli defined virtue in a real environment where one is judged by his actions and not by the way his actions ought to be (realism). [pic][pic]

According to Plato and Aristotle good life only exists in total virtue where a person will be most happy. Plato places emphasis on the extinction of personal desires through love so that one can achieve happiness (Barker, 1959). Aristotle on the other hand believes that an ideal or perfect state brings out the virtue in all men. A person will gain happiness when all their actions and goals are virtuous. This implies that according to Aristotle happiness is a group goal and not an individual goal (Barker, 1959). Plato equally in bringing out the essence of love which must be shared among people suggests that happiness is a group goal.

However, virtue in the Machiavellian sense seems to lack a moral tone. By virtue, he alludes to personal qualities needed for the achievement of one’s own ends (Machiavelli, 1998). His view seems to be directed at self interests and not a common goal. In pursuing personal interests, one is not careful about the means by which he does so and therefore is not bound by a moral imperative.

In “The Prince” Machiavelli describes two types of principalities. One is hereditary and the other is acquired. He observes that though no virtue is required to attain a hereditary...

References: Barker, E. (1959). The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle. New York: Dover.
Machiavelli, N. (1998). The Prince. (P. Bondanella, Ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Schaub, D. (1998). Machiavelli’s Realism. The National Interest. (53), 109
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