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Philosophical Theories - Essay Example

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Philosophical Theories

Specifically, it has been argued that Machiavelli's positions have contrasted greatly with the views of Aristotle and Plato, particularly their views on the government and the State.
However, this paper would like to forward the central thesis that if one analyzes carefully their works, it would prove that the theories of Machiavelli have actually benefited much from the theories of Aristotle and Plato and one can see some areas of intersection.
We study the ancient theories, then, but with some doubt as to what they are theories of. We tend in fact to talk of ancient ethics, not ancient morality, and we do the same for modern theories containing elements that are prominent in the ancient ones: thus, we talk of virtue ethics, not virtue morality. There is a fairly widespread attitude that ancient theories of virtue and the good life are concerned not with what we take to be morality, but with something different, an alternative which can be labeled ethics.
Platonic philosophy is hinged on moral virtue as practiced by just rulers. According to him, man served the State and hence, ethics and politics were the same. This is to be contradistinguished with Machiavellian principles, which states that the State should serve the people. That is its whole reason for being. Under Machiavelli's consent, a ruler is justified in doing whatever needs to be done to maintain the country, even if his actions may be deemed unjust.

This is the source of the famous quote: "The end justifies the means." This is a complete opposite of the Platonic model which argues that a ruler may never be unjust. It is immoral and unethical, maintains Plato, for a ruler to rule solely by might. A background on Plato's methodology and work is provided by Bruell (1994):

Plato's political philosophy is accessible to us primarily through the three great works whose very titles point to their political themes: the Republic, the Laws, the Statesman. The Republic and the Laws, which happen to be his longest works by far, are devoted chiefly to developing very thoroughgoing themes of political reform; the Statesman is devoted to the search for rare qualities or qualifications that would make a man worthy of that name. Plato's political philosophy first come to sight both as critical and reformist: it establishes immediately its distance from actual politics and looks to the true politics, which Plato's own educational efforts are presumably intended to help bring about. It can thus have an apparently contrary effect, however. Even as it raises readers' political hopes, it may lower their willingness to participate in the only politics available to them, for the small good that might be done there seems smaller still when it is compared with the good they have been led to expect from the schemes of radical reform that they have become acquainted with in Plato.

Plato's theories have found traces in the writings of the more modern ...Show more


The teachings of early philosophers are indeed timeless. While it may be said that our world has had many developments since the time that these philosophers had walked the earth and we currently new technology and new wonders previously undreamed of, it cannot be gainsaid that it is the lessons from the past that has acted like a lamp to guide the future and animate our path…
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Philosophical Theories Essay essay example
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