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Machiavelli’s View of Human Nature in “The Prince”

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Machiavellian lifetime, Italy’s city-states were in turmoil, and he was extremely interested in the politics behind the chaos. 1 Machiavelli advised principalities on the proper way to conduct themselves by using his study of human nature. His understanding of human greed, disloyalty, and predictability created a vision of politics that utilizes power for a prince to maintain stability. Machiavelli created power-politics, his vision of how to stabilize a principality, in The Prince. Machiavelli thought human nature was two-dimensional.

He saw humans as predictable, foreseeing their responses o the princes’ actions.

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Because humans are so unsophisticated in Machiavellian eye, they can only love or hate their prince, making them unable to see an intermediate to the good and bad in their ruler. Humans’ simple minded logic allows the prince to manipulate his people in his favor. Machiavelli described humans as self-interested. “One can make this generalization about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceivers, they shun danger and are greedy for profit; while you treat them well they are yours.

2 It is natural for humans to desire more, and humans are praised rather than condemned when they do so. This desire drives nobles to attempt to conquer the common people, but the common people want to avoid domination. This split in objective causes either a principality, a free city, or anarchy to form by whoever has the opportunity. 4 The fight between classes caused by human greed is detrimental to government stability. To be in control of a principality, a prince needs the people’s submissive support.

Machiavelli believed princes should use power in politics because humans’ greed puts self-interests over the state’s interests. His stability-driven power- politics is practiced through manipulating the prince’s public persona, his tresses importance of having a good army, and finding ways to fight off internal insurrections. Machiavelli saw the goal of a prince to be keeping his subjects submissive and unlikely to revolt. He believed the best way to achieve this goal is through a reasonable amount of force so the citizens do not become angry but are fearfully obedient.

It is best for citizens to fear their prince because “one would like to be both the one [feared] and the other [loved]; but it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both. “5 Humans will break a bond of love when it s in their advantage, but a bond of fear is stronger due to their anxiety of punishment-6 A prince should avoid being extremely feared at all costs because he it is in his best interest to avoid being hated. If he is hated by his citizens, they are more likely to revolt. “The gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done learns the way to self-destruction rather than self-preservation. “8 A prince must learn how to use his non-virtuous skills to safeguard his rule because “some of the things that appear to be virtues will… In him, and some of the things that appear to be vices will bring him security and prosperity. “9 A prince achieves great things when he is cunning rather than when using honest principals, but in his facade, he must appear as if he has honorable qualities, even if he does not. 0 Even if a prince is not religious, for example, he should appear religious to his people because his people want him to be virtuous. 1 1 Machiavellian vision of power-politics has the prince’s ability to maintain his principality tied to his reputation. A new prince is constantly in danger of losing his power because the population may overthrow him for another prince if they feel another prince’s goals are better suited to their ambitions. 12 To prevent this instability, Machiavelli wrote that it is much easier to maintain control over a new principality if the laws and taxes are maintained after a new prince comes into power.

Also, a new prince must destroy the old family so they cannot regain power because the people have a natural inclination to love them. Maintaining the laws and abolishing the old family allows for a smoother transition of power. 13 Two components of a strong state are “good laws” and a “good army. ” “Good saws” are a product of a “good army,” but “good armies” require a prince skilled in warfare-14 A prince needs a firm understanding of statecraft and warfare to maintain his principality. If a prince has a reputation for outstanding warfare, it will keep him from facing foreign threats. 5 Even a common citizen can be a great ruler if he understands the art of warfare. During peacetime, a prince should continue to study war in preparation for future battles. 16 The prince must always be prepared for war because when disorder is suppressed the underlying cause of warfare is never fixed, only avoided. 7 There are three different forms of armies: mercenary troops, auxiliary troops, and the prince’s personal troops. Mercenary troops are disloyal because they are more focused on their own advancement than the safety of the state, unwilling to fully risk their life for what they are paid. 8 Also, mercenary commanders are either unskilled, so the state is worse off than before, or skilled, where their incentive of personal advancement makes them untrustworthy. 19 Auxiliary troops are equally as impractical because the state is in debt of another nation if the state wins, and if the state loses, it s defenseless. 20 A principality is only secure if it commands its own troops. 21 There are two major threats to the security off principality: internal insurrection and threats from foreign powers.

Insurrection is hard to take root in a principality if the people like their prince. 22 To avoid revolts, princes have attempted the following: dividing the town, disarming the citizens, attempting to please the disgruntled citizens, and building a fortress. 23 When dividing a town, the lower class of people will side with the enemy and seek revenge against the upper class. 24 Disarming the people loud offend them, but if a prince allows them to keep their arms, the people will be more loyal to his cause. 5 Disgruntled citizens can be won over for the prince’s cause, sometimes through manipulation, but when adversity hits, they may abandon him. Loyalty at the start of a prince’s rule is stronger than loyalty gained during his rule. 26 If a prince is hated by his people, he must build a fortress around his principality for protection because the people will not raise support against foreign attackers. No fortress can protect a prince from his disgruntled citizens, but it can keep his citizens from gaining outside alp. 7 The Prince outlines one of the first modern visions of politics by utilizing a prince’s power. Machiavellian view of politics is considered evil by many critiques because of suggestions to kill a principality old family and having a prince create a virtuous facade. He does not associate ethics and politics because he uses the predictability of human nature to create stability in a principality. Humans are self-interested and put themselves before the state. In Machiavellian The Prince, power and politics need to be interconnected for a principality to survive.

Cite this Machiavelli’s View of Human Nature in “The Prince”

Machiavelli’s View of Human Nature in “The Prince”. (2018, Apr 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/machiavellis-view-of-human-nature-in-the-prince/

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