The Prince Versus Kant's Analysis

1353 Words6 Pages
For centuries, philosophers have provided us with a greater understanding of the world around us, providing suggestions as to how we might reflect upon, criticise, or improve the societies in which we live. This has allowed us to speculate on many topics, such as politics, ethics, and morality. Among many others, two of the most influential thinkers to this day are Nicolo Machiavelli and Immanuel Kant. Their writings, The Prince and An Answer to the Question “What is Enlightenment?” provide insight as to how societies should be ruled and set up in order for all people within them to be content. Their views on the matter, however, differ significantly. While Machiavelli argues that a great society requires a great ruler capable of controlling…show more content…
He suggests that a great society is an enlightened one – one in which people have achieved “emergence from … self-incurred immaturity” (Kant, [1784] 2013, p. 25). He argues that one should avoid being controlled by institutions and rulers and that a great society requires perhaps not a great leader, but a sense of civil and intellectual freedom among the people (Kant, [1784] 2013). This freedom, however, is very difficult to achieve – hence why Kant states that we live in not an enlightened age, but one of enlightenment – as no matter how free a society is, and how many people think for themselves, “guardians” will always emerge (Kant, [1784] 2013). These guardians will blind the public – and possibly even themselves – from the truth (Kant, [1784] 2013), and will always find a way to somehow “serve as a leash to control the great unthinking mass” (Kant, [1784] 2013, p. 25) unless true enlightenment is achieved through a revolution (Kant, [1784] 2013). Kant suggests that if this is achieved, and all people think independently, a society will govern itself, create its own laws – or, at least, proposals for them, which would be sent to the crown – and naturally fall into a state of order (Kant, [1784] 2013). Therefore, social order can be achieved without a “Machiavellian” leader, that being one who exercises absolute control over citizens. Oppositely to Machiavelli, Kant’s ideal ruler is one who “considers it his duty … not to prescribe anything to his people, but to allow them complete freedom.” (Kant, [1784] 2013, p.
Open Document