Rousseau And Machiavelli Essay

1203 words - 5 pages

Essay No 1
Machiavelli and Rousseau, both influential philosophers, were innovators of their time. They represented different ideas on what the state of nature and government should consist of, having both similarities and differences. Their viewpoints evolved from different time periods, which make them unique. Machiavelli, the sixteenth century Italian diplomat expressed, that a Prince should be unethical in achieving power. He argued that to be successful in politics certain qualities were of importance and ethics could not stand in the way. Machiavelli stated that a Prince’s power should be maintained in being feared and loved, and possessing control over the people. Rousseau on the other hand was an eighteen century philosopher and writer. Unlike Machiavelli, his view’s on political and modern philosophies were influenced by the French Revolution. Rousseau believed in a legitimate government that was elected by a civil society based on social contract. Both philosophers wanted to develop an ideal structure for the development of a functional society. They both had different tactics in doing so but aim for the same thing, a great society. Rousseau’s approach seems most persuading to me in the sense that is based off a group of people coming together and deciding what is best for the majority. Machiavelli influenced Rousseau in the context of political economy and social contract.

During the sixteenth century the political foundation was of interest to Machiavelli. He wrote, “The Prince” as a guide to political power. It was his analysis on how a powerful ruler could be created. Although most seen his writing as harsh, it allowed others the idea of what they believed the perfect civilized government should look like. His rules and characteristics of what a Prince should be, were based off of what he’s seen from his rulers in the past. Machiavelli believed that the Prince’s main goals were to achieve, maintain and concentrate under single authority.
In “The Prince” Machiavelli viewed citizens as untrustworthy and encourages the leader to be heedful in trusting them. He says as their Prince people would do anything to protect him but when he is in danger they turn away. He understood that most people act for self interest and not for the interest of others. He saw that political success would not depend on chance or luck but through the eyes of fear. Machiavelli says, “The Prince must none the less make himself feared in such a way that, if he is not loved, at least he escapes being hated.” (10). [Burton & Dworkin] He perceives that social order is continuous and impossible solve. Not everyone will be happy with the decisions he makes but as long as the majority agrees with him, he shouldn’t have a problem.

Machiavelli knew that a Prince must secure his power and must be powerful enough to keep it. The idea that doing anything to get this power, whether it was moral or not was the most important aspect. “A prince should not worry...

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