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Explain how Machiavelli's discussion of virtue (virtu) in The Prince differs from that of the ancients like Plato and Cicero. Give examples - Essay Example

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Explain how Machiavelli's discussion of virtue (virtu) in The Prince differs from that of the ancients like Plato and Cicero. Give examples

It is immoral and unethical, maintains Plato, for a ruler to rule solely by might.
Machiavelli has stated, ""A Prince, therefore should have no care or thought but for war, and the regulations and training it requires, and should apply himself exclusively to this as his peculiar province; for war is the sole art looked for in one who rules" (Machiavelli, P. 70)."
Therefore, it is clear that Machiavelli's idea of virtu' is not one that is based on moral character, but rather, based on utility. For Machiavelli, virtu' outweighs morality when the needs of the situation demands it; for Plato, one must preserve morality at all times. Plato believes in utopian ideals and propositions; Machiavelli, was a realist.
Cicero, on the other hand, maintains that there was no distinction between that which was morally good and what was useful to man. His concept of duty is directly opposite the concept of duty as forwarded by Machiavelli. Cicero believed that pleasure may be enjoyed by man, but that there is a right and moral way to enjoy pleasure. For example, sex is an enjoyable activity and may thus be engaged in by man, but it is wrong to have sex with another man's wife. To quote from Cicero, "Virtue is a habit of the mind, consistent with nature and moderation and reason." Even their concepts of government are markedly different. Machiavelli would be wont to argue for the top-down approach, i.e., a good ruler is essential, a ruler who must be feared, more than loved. Cicero, on the other hand, believes that people should work together for the betterment of the community. Hence, he espouses a bottom-top approach.

Describe the role of virtue in friendship, according to Cicero.
Cicero's work, "De Amicitia" (On Friendship) captures this thinker's thoughts on friendship, and particularly, the role that virtue plays. A very enlightening passage in this work, translated in English, reads: "I can only advise you to prefer friendship to all things else within human attainment, insomuch as nothing beside is so well fitted to nature, -- so well adapted to our needs whether in prosperous or in adverse circumstances. But I consider this as a first principle -- that friendship can exist only between good men."

Much ado is made regarding the moral dimension of friendship - that it should be based on nature, and not on need, on love and not on benefit. To quote the good philosopher once again, "But in friendship there is nothing feigned, nothing pretended, and whatever there is in it is both genuine and spontaneous. Friendship, therefore, springs from nature rather than from need, -- from an inclination of the mind with a certain consciousness of love rather than from calculation of the benefit to be derived from it." Hence, Cicero believes that truth-telling is an important aspect of friendship, and that the truth must be told to a friend, even though the truth hurts.

But perhaps the most important point made by Cicero is that virtue is the very framework of friendship, it is the very bulwark on which friendship rests -

Virtue, I say to you, Caius Fannius, and to you, Quintus Mucius, -- virtue both forms and preserves friendships. In it is mutual agreement; in it is stability; in it is consistency of conduct and character. When it has put itself forth and ...Show more

Summary

Platonic philosophy is hinged on moral virtue as practiced by just rulers. 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…
Author : mcculloughmalco
Explain how Machiavellis discussion of virtue (virtu) in The Prince differs from that of the ancients like Plato and Cicero. Give examples essay example
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