Machiavelli’s View on Human Nature
The author, Niccoló Machiavelli, is different from other humanists in his time, because his view on the nature of man contradicts what most humanists believed. Humanists of that time believed that individuals played an important role to the well-being of the state, and that “… they also believed in classicism’s basic tenet that human nature is inherently rational and good” (Western Humanities, pg. 343). Machiavelli, however, had a negative view on human nature and made the central message of his writings based on human weakness (Western Humanities, pg. 346). In The Prince, Machiavelli describes the many negative traits that are inherent among human beings.
These traits included are that: people are
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What he does is he characterizes the people as being untrustworthy and cowardly in times of need; that they are self-centered and not willing to act towards the best interests of their state. He further questions the loyalty of man in saying that they generally are ungrateful, fickle, pretenders and dissemblers, evaders of danger, and eager for gain. If the prince does well among his citizens, then they will be obedient and offer their lives while there is no imminent danger. But when danger is close, then the people revolt (The Prince, pg.66). Of course, it is up to the prince to create a way for his citizens to be faithful and to create a sense of patriotism within his state and of his citizens. His many views on the nature of people to be selfish and run when things get hard or dangerous is too broad and simplistic. While some people can be characterized by this trait, there are others who are courageous and face their challenges when they are presented. This virtuous trait is what Machiavelli believes a prince should exhibit, because people tend to admire courage, honor, generosity, and virtue although most men do not have these traits. Machiavelli advises that a prince should appear to be a compassionate, trustworthy, kind, guileless, and pious ruler. But since possessing all of these traits is pretty much impossible, the prince must only appear to act virtuously. If the people believe the prince is virtuous, it will be easier for him to