You have read about Machiavelli from the textbook, so you are familiar with his “Prince” (Ital. “Il Principe”). You have also read the excerpt from Chapter XVII of the “Prince” discussing whether it is better for a prince to be loved or feared. Do you agree with Machiavelli’s advice?
Now read the following (slightly abridged) Chapter XVIII. Pay close attention to every advice Machiavelli gives to a prince (ruler of a state) about keeping his word and being merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious.
Excerpt from: THE PRINCE by NICOLLÒ MACHIAVELLI
CHAPTER XVIII – CONCERNING THE WAY IN WHICH PRINCES SHOULD KEEP FAITH
Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word.
Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate reasons to excuse this non-observance. Of this endless modern examples could be given, showing how many treaties and engagements have been made void and of no effect through the faithlessness of princes; and he who has known best how to employ craft has succeeded best.
But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.
Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.
A prince, especially a new one, cannot observe all those things for which men are esteemed, being often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to fidelity, friendship, humanity, and religion. Therefore it is necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations of fortune force it, yet, as I have said above, not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to set about it.
For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious. There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.
For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody; because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar…
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How do you like what you have read? Do you support Machiavelli’s opinion? Should a prince act in that way? Does a prince’s strong rule, based on Machiavelli’s advice, benefit his people? What about moral and ethical values?
INITIAL POST INSTRUCTIONS:
In your initial post discuss following issues:
1 – Do you think that Machiavelli’s advice from this chapter, published in XVI century, can be, or is, applied today? Where exactly?
2 – In terms of present-day application of the ideas from the “Prince”, state clearly your opinion – do you support Machiavelli’s advice from this chapter (do you think it should be applied today or not)? Explain exactly why you do or do not support it.
3 – Also in present-day terms, state clearly your opinion – do you agree that people are bad, simple, vulgar, easily deceived and will not keep faith with you?