Machiavelli and Hobbes Theories on Power

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Niccolo Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes are often presented as theorists of power in such a way as to suggest that there interests are wholly subsidized in the raw manipulation and execution of power. Their classic texts The Prince and Leviathan are seen as ideologically exclusive examples of how a sovereign can wield power with authoritarian supremacy at her will and whim.


While both offer ways to subdue insurgency and limit dissent, their works are deeply moral in nature. In fact so much so, that it is not possible to understand how they understand power without initially understanding what ethical conditions underlie the need to use power. Furthermore, power itself is a manifestation of moral and ethical desires. In order to make sense of this ethical substructure located in the work of Machiavelli and Hobbes, and analysis will be undertaken to explicate the conditions that they hold make the need and use of power necessary and beneficial for society. For Machiavelli the greatest moral good is that of a stable and virtuous state, and any action should be directed toward that end, while for Hobbes the need for the utilization of power derives from the inherent desire to elevate man out of the state of nature. It is only through an investigation to these underlying assumptions can an understanding of their related theories of power be compared and properly deployed in modern society.
Niccolo Machiavelli focuses on hereditary and newly acquired monarchies in The Prince, having devoted time to the nature of republics in another work (Machiavelli 34). ...
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