Machiavelli's view of human nature in "The Prince"

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The Prince was a political treatise written by Niccolo Machiavelli in the 16th century. Like other works of the Renaissance literature, The Prince was written creatively and innovatively using the vernacular Italian rather than Latin. …

Introduction

Machiavelli's view of human nature in The Prince

In chapter 15, Machiavelli writes, “men…and princes…, are remarkable for some of those qualities which bring them either blame of praise” (Machiavelli, 1961). The princes show those characters that will not deprive him of his state. In this case, men follow what brings them benefit even if it is a vice – “it will be found that something which looks like a virtue, if followed, would be his ruin; whilst something else, which looks like a vice, yet followed brings him security and prosperity.”

Being in the highest position of the land, and with the highest authority, the prince should put in effect policies that will serve his best interest (Machiavelli, 1961). This shows that Machiavelli supported any action of princes that will give them satisfaction, even if it will hurt the citizens. He believed that the prince’s followers are sometimes unreliable, and the prince might lose their loyalty. This is indicated in chapter 11: “For such a prince cannot rely upon what he observes in quiet times, when citizens have need of the state, because then everyone agrees with him; they all promise, and when death is far distant they all wish to die for him; but in troubled times, when the state has need of its citizens, then he finds but few” (Machiavelli, 1961). The prince should therefore ensure that at every moment citizens are in need of the state, and they will always be faithful to him. ...
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