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Ethics And Politics: Compare Two Machiavellian Thinkers (Machiavelli And Han Fei Tzu)

1286 words - 5 pages

At first glance, Machiavelli and Han Fei Tzu may seem extremely alike in their attitudes towards ethics and politics. Although both philosophers lived in a different period of time and part of the world, their similarity in thoughts categorized them under the same title as "Machiavellian thinkers".However, with a closer examination of their writings, it is not unreasonable to notice that they are, to a certain extent, different in both their thoughts and interests.Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian humanist who lived under the rule of the Medici family. His publication of the "The Prince" was a dedication to the Medicis in attempt to regain his post as secretary of war after being exiled. He rejoined humanist circles in failure of this attempt.Han Fei Tzu (c.280 B.C.-233 B.C.) was a Chinese philosopher who wrote political advice for the emperor. His publication of "On Having Standards" was a similar guide to Machiavelli's, of his ideas on the ideal methods to rule a state.Both Machiavelli and Han Fei built their methods of ruling upon their interpretations of human nature, which they perceived to be evil. Machiavelli states quite bluntly that in general, men "are ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers, anxious to avoid danger, and covetous of gain."p90 (The Prince). Han Fei, echoes his view with a corresponding answer of "deception, lies and falsehoods"p22 (On Having Standards). It was then upon this rule, that they stressed on the necessity in the exercise of law and politics to maintain a civil country. They studied common traits in the history of politics, to seek advice and confidence in which attitudes and methods of ruling to adopt. Their ideas meet on the unanimous aim to control.Machiavelli and Han Fei both acknowledged the basic qualities of a successful ruler to be unselfish, as one "who can block selfish pursuits and enforce the public law will see his armies growing stronger and his enemies weakening."p22 (On Having Standards) One must put the priority of a nation before his personal interests and continuously seek ways to improve his state. Up to this point, their perception of the political environment and basic elements of an ideal ruler seem to agree with each other. However, their intentions concerning politics appear to differ, this led to their different means and ends in political affairs.Machiavelli's interpretation of security was the elimination of fear, "one internal as regarding his subjects, one external as regards foreign powers."p95 (The Prince) This could only be achieved with the support of both "good laws and good arms"; thus it requires much more than honor to enforce such securities.Han Fei's source of security was power, and nothing but complete control would satisfy him. He believed that laws must be drawn up by the ruler, and that no private judgement should exist. Harsh laws should be applied ruthlessly. Warfare was one main subject in his mind.These, were...


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