The Prince

Niccolo Machiavelli

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The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, is a 16th-century political treatise. The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning politics and ethics. The Prince has the general theme of accepting that the aims of princes—such as glory and survival—can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends. Although it is relatively short, the treatise is the most remembered of Machiavelli's works and the one most responsible for bringing the word "Machiavellian" into usage as a pejorative. It even contributed to the modern negative connotations of the words "politics" and "politician" in western countries. In terms of subject matter it overlaps with the much longer Discourses on Livy, which was written a few years later. Machiavelli emphasized the need for realism, as opposed to idealism. Along with this, he stresses the difference between human-beings and animals since "there are two ways of contending, one in accordance with the laws, the other by force; the first of which is proper to men, the second to beast". In The Prince he does not explain what he thinks the best ethical or political goals are, except the control of one's own fortune, as opposed to waiting to see what chance brings. Machiavelli took it for granted that would-be leaders naturally aim at glory or honor. He associated these goals with a need for "virtue" and "prudence" in a leader, and saw such virtues as essential to good politics and indeed the common good. That great men should develop and use their virtue and prudence was a traditional theme of advice to Christian princes.

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    EPUB

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