Adam J asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Is Machiavelli a teacher of evil? Why, or why not?

I am struggling with this essay question. I read the Prince but I was just wondering if someone could help me out.

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    "evil" is a moral, and even a religious word, so it can't really be applied to the works of a political philosopher who invented modern political philosophy. In the 16th century, his works were considered "evil", especially in Protestant countries. In France, the Huguenot Innocent Gentillet wrote a book against Machiavelli (Contre Machiavel) and in England, his books were banned (although they were read).

    Machiavelli invented modern political philosophy because he envisaged the practice of politics as separated from religion or ethics.

  • 1 decade ago

    Machiavelli was a pragmatist, not a proponent of "evil." In fact, in the Prince, he attempted to redefine the concepts of virture and vice. Virtue - that which is beneficial to the ruler; vice - that which harms the ruler. Machiavelli detached himself from cultural and religious understandings of good and evil. Instead, he acted much more like a political scientist. He studied history and politics in his own day to document the steps to a successful reign.

    He IS concerned with societal morality, but only in the ways it can be manipulated to further the prince. For example, the people want a ruler who's generous. Machiavelli would tell the prince to give only as much as is needed to give the people this impression and not a cent more. He thought of in terms of "cost-benefit analysis." Machiavelli thought the "appearance of virtue" was ultimately more important and that behaving genuinely virtuous, according to the Christian definition, would lead to the prince's ruin. If a ruler is too generous, the people will blame him when he can't fulfill every whim and need. If a ruler is too stingy, the people will be dissatisfied and blame him for their plight.

  • Machiavelli wrote about the realites of political life during the Renaissance in Italy. He gives examples from the past as ways of illustrating poor or good leadership decisions. He doesn't seem overly concerned with the morality involved, and focuses mainly on informing readers about what works and what doesn't work when talking a bout ruling a nation.

  • NC
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Evil is a subjective notion. Depending on your definition of evil, you could honestly answer either yes or no. A more subtle answer would be, Machiavelli is a teacher of LESSER evil. In his own words,

    [A] prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty; because with a few examples he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise, from which follow murders or robberies; for these are wont to injure the whole people, whilst those executions which originate with a prince offend the individual only. ("The Prince", Chapter XVII)

    Although I must admit, I'd have to think twice before construing something like this as evil:

    A prince ought also to show himself a patron of ability, and to honour the proficient in every art. At the same time he should encourage his citizens to practise their callings peaceably, both in commerce and agriculture, and in every other following, so that the one should not be deterred from improving his possessions for fear lest they be taken away from him or another from opening up trade for fear of taxes; but the prince ought to offer rewards to whoever wishes to do these things and designs in any way to honour his city or state. ("The Prince", Chapter XXI)

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    No. He's a teacher of reality.

    Try this link.

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