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Makaveli Philosopher

The Makaveli philosopher refers to Niccolo Machiavelli. Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian writer, diplomat, and philosopher who lived during the Renaissance. He is considered one of the founders of modern political science, and his writings drew upon his time in politics.

Makaveli Philosopher

Born in Florence on May 3, 1469, he was the third son of Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli and Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli. Machiavelli is most famously known for his work The Prince. He also wrote plays, poetry, comedies, and songs. His personal letters have gained a personal fame and interest among historians.

Makaveli Philosopher

Between the ages of 29 and 43, Machiavelli served as the Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence. The time in which he lived was one of political upheaval and constant change; those in power were not guaranteed to stay there for long, governments rose and fell quickly, and people's political and military alliances changed with the wind.

Both before and after his time in politics, the Medici family had control of Florence. In between the Medici rule, when Machiavelli was serving, Florence was a republic. However, when the Medici returned to power, they dissolved the republic and later imprisoned Machiavelli for alleged conspiracy. He was tortured while in prison, though he continued to deny the accusations. Upon his eventual release, he devoted his time to studying politics and writing. His most well-known works were written after his political career had ended.

Because he had such a love for politics, Machiavelli was extremely disappointed when, due to the Medici family's takeover of Florence, he could no longer be directly involved in them. To make up for this, he sought out others with whom he could discuss his political and philosophical ideas.

He wrote several political plays that enjoyed widespread and favorable audiences, and he continued to write back and forth with friends who were still involved in the political process. The concept of the Makaveli philosopher evolved from these philosophical works.

The Prince

Machiavelli's most famous work, The Prince, was written in 1513 under the Latin title De Principatibus, translated About Principalities. Though the early version was distributed among a handful, it was not until 1532 that the printed version was published.

The Prince is a manual on how to gain and maintain political control. The work challenges controversy on many levels, detailing how it is acceptable to use immoral acts, if they justify the end results.

This is, of course, a basic philosophy that continues to be much debated even today when discussions of Makaveli philospher arise. The question "Does the end justify the means?" is asked when discussing many politically and morally charged topics, including welfare, the death penalty, abortion, and taxes, to name just a few.

Should a Leader Be Loved or Feared?

The Prince poses the question about whether it is better for a ruler to be loved or feared. Machiavelli's conclusion is that, if the ruler cannot be both, he should prefer to be feared, because it is more beneficial to his political cause to be feared than to be loved.

He advises rulers to err on the side of being viewed as misers rather than be too generous with their subjects and therefore lose the subjects' respect (or fear, as it may be), which could lead to the rulers' loss of political control. The book recommends that those in power should keep up the illusion of being honest and keeping their word, though in reality they don't actually have to be or do those things.

Reality Versus Idealism

Machiavelli favored reality over idealism. His commendation of immoral acts demonstrated a belief a rise in power required selfish and unjust acts. Proponents of this philosophy argue that this, indeed, reflects reality, while the idea that one can rise to power while genuinely looking out for the interests of others is merely an ideal or impossible fantasy. Five hundred years after his work was published, Machiavelli's words and beliefs provide a framework of study for students of political science, history, philosophy and negotiation.