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Soul, Body, And Augustine's And Machiavelli's Views On Human Nature

2412 words - 10 pages

Soul, Body, and Augustine's and Machiavelli's Views on Human NatureMachiavelli insists that he sees men as they really are rather than we might wish men to be (XV, p. 62). Augustine also depicts how men actually live in the City of God. How are Augustine's and Machiavelli's understandings of human nature similar to and different from each other? How does these differences affect their political philosophy? Augustine and Machiavelli are similar in their pessimistic views toward human nature, looking at human self-love and self-interested, full of evil, cruelty, betrayal, violence and war. Yet the two views are different fundamentally. Augustine thinks that men are not evil by nature but by their choice of disobedience to God, but Machiavelli believes that men are naturally sinful. For Augustine, love of self rather than God is driven by soul, by placing self ahead of God. By contrast, Machiavelli thinks that evil is maintained by self-interest, which is due to the insatiable lust of body. However, They both acknowledge that moral obligations do exist in human beings. Because of their different views of the cause of evil, Augustine and Machiavelli achieve their peace in different ways.In order to compare the philosophy of the two thinkers, we need to examine their views. Augustine claims that "no one is evil by nature" (p. 590) because all people are created by God in His own image, and God is by no means evil, nor will He make anything evil. One is evil because of some fault, namely, living according to man instead of God. Moreover, contrary to many classical philosophical thoughts, Augustine thinks that of the two parts of self, soul and body (p. 206), soul is the cause of evil. It is not the flesh of body that makes people sin, but soul's placing of the flesh over the divine God. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve live in abundance but still betray God. When they place their wish above God's command, they live according to themselves and thus become evil. Fully aware of God's ban of eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve sin consciously; they choose to be evil out of free will. (p. 608) However, Augustine also sees that all men are "necessarily evil and fleshly" when born, because they are the offspring of Adam, whose fault changed human nature for the worse. Only by being reborn and living according to God can men be good and spiritual again and attain true happiness. (p. 635) Therefore, according to Augustine, humans are not evil by nature, but they are sinful and driven by self-love as the offspring of Adam. It is not body but soul that makes human beings evil.While Augustine argues that humans are not evil by nature, on the contrast, Machiavelli is more inclined to the opinion that men are by nature readier to evil than to good. He ascribes human evil to the lust of body, while silently denies soul as the cause of evil by not even mentioning it in the Prince. Machiavelli thinks that men are wicked and self-interested due to insatiable...

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