The Prince vs. the Republic

Topics: Republic, Leo Strauss, Adeimantus of Collytus Pages: 3 (1009 words) Published: April 17, 2007
Machiavelli's criticism of Plato's The Republic states that a ruler who possesses an inherent quality of that which is consistently good will never have the authority to rule his or her people successfully. If a ruler always treats his subjects in a manner, which can be qualified as good, then he will ultimately meet his demise, as his subjects will rise against him. Machiavelli claims that it is unrealistic to assume that all the people of a kingdom will conduct themselves in a manner that will be consistent with the ruling of a "good" leader. Such republics or principalities do not exist in reality and are entirely hypothetical situations. Plato treats his republic as a means of demonstrating that there is a certain way for all people in a state to live peacefully if they are trained to possess an inherent good. However, it is through Machiavelli's more realistic view of human nature that this idea is refuted. An entire state cannot remain good forever, as aspects of human nature will always shine through despite any teachings otherwise. Man will always maintain base desires and needs, which would eventually lead to the demise of an idealistic republic such as Plato's. Machiavelli's view of humanity leads him to set up a far more realistic set of rules for enabling a prince to successfully rule his or her subjects. For example, Machiavelli focuses primarily on the appearance to his or her subjects as a ruler. If a prince appears to be good, but is also in some respects driven by base desires in ruling, then he will possess a level of prowess that will allow him to wield his power in such a way that will lead to a stable kingdom. For Machiavelli, the prince's knowledge of politics implies a level of deception towards his subjects. It is this deception that leads to a false appearance of goodness in the eyes of the people, which leads to a trust between the two. Once the ruler possesses the trust of the people, he can then control his kingdom in a way that...
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