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Is The Acquisition And Maintenance Of Power The Only 'good' For Machiavelli?

1437 words - 6 pages

According to Machiavelli, the acquisition and maintenance of power was of the utmost importance to a Prince. But to discuss the question, it is essential to look at aspects of both his life and work and to decide whether or not the acquisition and maintenance of power is, for him, the only 'good'. This essay will argue that while other aspects of his writings can be described as 'good' to a degree, the only true 'good' for Machiavelli was the acquisition and maintenance of power, and therefore was the only 'good' in his opinionIt is first necessary to define what is meant by the acquisition and maintenance of power being the only 'good' for Machiavelli. To claim this is to say that Machiavelli believed that a Prince should look upon gaining and retaining power as his main objective and that all his actions should be directed towards achieving this goal. To be able to say this, it is essential to show why the acquisition and maintenance of power was so important to Machiavelli.The importance of the acquisition and maintenance of power during Machiavelli's time was great, especially when we take into consideration the political landscape of Europe when he was alive. The continent was a violent and dangerous place and while it was rich, Machiavelli lived in an Italy that was "a mishmash of states competing for political influence" , and was surrounded by larger, more unified states such as France and Spain. No leader was able to claim complete control of Italy and disputes within the country and conquests by foreign powers were commonplace. Machiavelli's writings are littered with examples of this, both in his own time and before, such as the King of France's campaigns at the time and Hannibal's offensive's many years before. So the stability of the state depended on strong leadership and military organisation, and this goes some way to explaining why the acquisition and maintenance of power was so important to Machiavelli.The level of importance he attributed to this is further raised when we look at commentaries on Machiavelli's work-"Machiavelli believed the only purpose for a ruler was to make war, and protect (his) citizens from attacks by other states" , "The Prince is a handbook on the acquisition and maintenance of political power. Neither can it be argued any otherwise" The point that seems to come up again and again is that Machiavelli valued the acquisition and maintenance of power above all else and that for him, this was 'the ultimate good', it was the goal any leader should be trying to accomplish. But to establish whether or not this is the only 'good' for him, we need to examine his work.Plato believed that virtue was a skill required by all leaders . So is it possible to say Machiavelli looked upon virtue as being a 'good' as well as the acquisition and maintenance of power? It is evident from his thoughts in The Prince that he did not. In chapter fifteen he points out a possible danger Princes can face - "some of the things that...

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