OtherPapers.com - Other Term Papers and Free Essays
Search

Machiavelli and the Ethics of Morality

Essay by   •  March 2, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,509 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,664 Views

Essay Preview: Machiavelli and the Ethics of Morality

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

In The Prince the seeds of a new political and ethical order can be acquired from the study of history and current events. The Renaissance represented a renewal of interest in Greek and Roman classical times. This interest manifested itself into a movement, which took hold in the humanities. Machiavelli not only intended to address Lorenzo de Medici and the other rulers of his time, but every ruler, at any time. Just as Columbus and others during his time were discovering new existences, Machiavelli invited the politically intelligent of his day to rediscover Republican Rome. Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince argued that morality and politics cannot co-exist in the same forum. However, when investigating Machiavelli's ideas and philosophies, it can be concluded that perhaps the evil and violence he suggests are fueled by moral end. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to grasp and understand his key concepts of fortune and virtue. The two antagonistic concepts of fortune and virtue, Machiavelli argues, reflect the way in which a prince should govern while decreasing all risk of being overthrown or losing power while remaining moral.

Machiavelli's type of governing demands a certain level of violence to be taken. However, this is done solely for the purpose of maintaining the prince's throne and power, and also generating both fear and accolades from his people, which Maureen

Ramsay agrees with from a modern perspective on politics. When Machiavelli calls for violence, he minimizes the amount that needs to be taken, and in most cases, those

who are being effected, are enemies of the people. The prince essentially takes all responsibility, not leaving the consequences on the shoulders of the people. All the prince asks for in return is to respect his power and to continue to show loyalty without threat. This request is quite feeble compared to those of other monarchies of the 16th century. In the end, Machiavelli's prince assumes all the liability and strain of the suggested violence, leaving his people to act freely without worry of their well-being. This presents Machiavelli's paramount motion of morality. Before seeing how the existence of violence can ultimately lead to morality, it is significant to observe exactly what the prince is demanded to do. Machiavelli clearly stresses the concepts of fortune and virtue. He defines fortune by the idea that everything is uncertain, and nothing will guarantee anything will transpire. Machiavelli states that a Prince should never reign by fortune. This approach to understanding Machiavelli's text parallels with that of Richard Hooker's, although many others completely disagree. Through risk, one leaves himself completely vulnerable to failure; thus, action should be withheld if any element of chance should be implied. Machiavelli ties virtue very closely to that of his definition of prudence.

Machiavelli's "virtue" is illustrated as acting atypical. He draws a fine line between his two main concepts of morality and virtue. Machiavelli clearly defines virtue by caution. According to Machiavelli, if a ruler is able to juggle violence with keeping the people pacified and is conscious of his threats, then, the ruler's virtue is outstanding.The ruler must clearly comprehend that the throne is in constant exposure and someone is

always there trying to remove the prince from power. This fuels the well known argument by Machiavelli that "it is better to be feared than loved" (Machiavelli 79). Machiav-

elli explains that, love is fleeting and will subside unless adjustments are made to keep the people happy and peaceful.

Essentially, the people are only concerned about their personal necessities. If the prince was to be loved, he would have to be over-concerned with the needs and wants of the people.Nevertheless, fear, is not fleeting and has uniform effect on all whom he rules over. Fear is attained by any violent act. These acts, however, should never be done in mass.The people would then view the prince as a tyrant, and potentially rise up against him. The acts serve and honest intention,and not only benefit the prince, but his people also. Despite what some may think, Machiavelli develops his whole kingdom around the people. The actions the prince takes are solely done to save his life. Machiavelli's kingdom, overall, holds a sense of morality behind the violence that must be taken in order to maintain stability.

Machiavelli does not take the easy way out. He could have recommended that the prince ask for burdening taxes and treat his people in concordance with former apathetic rulers. Instead he merely asks for respect and loyalty

...

...

Download as:   txt (9.1 Kb)   pdf (110.5 Kb)   docx (12.3 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on OtherPapers.com