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Niccolò Machiavelli - the Qual

Oct 08, 1999 582 Words
Machiavelli’s views on human nature are unjust; nevertheless, his philosophy, or rather instructions, is reasonable in capturing the selfishness of men. As written in The Qualities of the Prince by Machiavelli, “Men are ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for gain; and while you work for their good they are completely yours, offering you their blood, their property, their lives, and their sons… when danger is far away; but when it comes nearer to you they turn away.” Machiavelli’s generalization demonstrates his low opinion on the nature of men because he views them as selfish and lacking in both loyalty and honesty.

Machiavelli’s general opinion that men are selfish contains an underlying truth to the human nature. Inside every human being, there is a sense of selfishness that lay dormant until given cause to awake. It is a truth that many will not be willing to admit or acknowledge. Many will even say that there are people who are or were selfless in their actions. Yes, there are, but when the situation comes, normally no one can take away their selfishness to still act like “saints” when they cannot even save themselves.

Selfishness is an ugly trait among people; however, disloyalty is probably the most offensive trait found in human nature. Machiavelli’s says, “when it comes nearer to you they turn away”, which clearly establishes where a person’ true loyalty stands. Loyalty is more consistent to oneself rather than to others. Past events in history supports Machiavelli’s opinion with Julius Caesar and Brutus as an example. Brutus’s loyalty to his most trusted friend, Caesar, went astray when a problem arose among his Roman peers, and the betrayal was committed against Caesar which resulted in death. A lesson worth learning from this example is that a person’s loyalty can never be trusted unless it is proves to stand strong through any situations. As Machiavelli wrote, “a prince must be cautious in believing and in acting…”. His instructions for the prince stand true for almost everyone nowadays.

Unlike disloyalty, dishonesty, according to Machiavelli, is an important factor in the relationship of all human beings. Machiavelli wrote, “princes who have accomplished great deeds are those who have cared little for keeping their promises and who have known how to manipulate the minds of men by shrewdness; and in the end they have surpassed those who laid their foundations upon honesty.” It is hard to imagine a society based on dishonest men. However, many great civilizations in the past have been built by ruthless men who ruled by being “a great hypocrite and a liar”.

Machiavelli’s criticism towards human natures provides a dark overview of what humanity has been since the dawn of time. He believes that in the time of need, a person cannot trust another to he there to help. He is clear to state that men are selfish, disloyal, and dishonest. Because of his view, he suggested one couldn’t rely on anyone but himself/herself in any situation. This suggestion is useful to some extend, as in the past experiences. Yet, I still believe that there are some exceptions in any case, so I think not all men will act as untruthful as he views them, and not al of them can be categorized as evil.

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