Machiavelli's View of Human Nature

Essay by sweetkimmy225College, UndergraduateA+, May 2005

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Machiavelli was a political philosopher in Italy during the Renaissance. His book The Qualities of the Prince was a practical guide for how future princes should maintain power and rule their country. In his book, Machiavelli tries to reinforce his points by speaking about human nature. He says that "men: they are ungrateful, fickle, simulators, and deceivers, avoider of danger, and while you work for their good they are completely yours [...] when danger is far away, but when it comes nearer to you they turn away" (Machiavelli 44). He characterizes men as being self centered and not willing to act for the better of anyone other than themselves. He expresses that it is not in human nature to do anything out of their will unless it is forced. Human beings are power hungry, conceited, and selfish, motivated by self interest and fear. Although Machiavelli's view of human nature is very harsh, but it is the truth because if it was not true then we would be living in harmony right now with out warfare.

In a world where people are motivated by self interest, one must control people by manipulation and fear because it is in their nature to be self interested. Machiavelli presents this idea through his quote "men are less hesitant about harming someone who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared [...] fear is held together by a dread of punishment which will never abandon you" (44). Machiavelli believes that human nature is bad and resistant to control. Humans will not do what you expect them to do unless it is forced.

Machiavelli touches the subject of human nature in his book to help future rulers acknowledge the basic facts of human nature and use it is qualities for their purposes. Machiavelli approaches the...