Humanity And Virtue In Machiavelli's The Prince

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In The Prince, Machiavelli establishes a primitive and inherently negative view of human nature that centers around man’s obsession with self-preservation through the means of obtaining power. It is this thinking that propels his understanding of the nature of a prince as a leader, and the qualities he must possess due to the nature of his subjects, which validates the natural fear he must have to lose his rule. This logical deduction of fear justifies his perception that the strong are in fact virtuous in respect to the preservation of the state when they are committing vicious acts on its behalf. His fundamentally caustic beliefs about the nature of humanity are the base upon which his understanding of principalities and the relative power…show more content…
15). The best prince is the prince who wields his power most vastly in scope and longest in time. Any role of ethics in how he achieves this is irrelevant. This fundamental grasp of mankind’s existence and potential greatly differs from that of many of the predominant foreign relations thinkers up to this time. Machiavelli not only disagrees with a common assumption that those who are most just are fit to rule and should rule, but entirely discounts the importance of ethical or just action on behalf of the ruler insofar as the well-being of the state is concerned. By extension, he suggests that all men, when placed in the position of the prince, will act similarly, as the same pressures to maintain power remain unchanged. This understanding limits the influence of the human conscience. It implies that no wielder of power is more just than any other, something that I believe restricts the real applicability of this argument to the international sphere, and mistakenly attempts to predict the actions of all leaders, regardless of their ideological
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