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On Western Civilization - Essay Example

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Western Civilazation. 1. Machiavelli. The book entitled The Prince by Nicollo Machiavelli is directed towards a high born audience, who are used to wielding power and making people do what they want. This makes it a rather-one sided view of society, and it favors the rich at the expense of the poor…
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Essay on Western Civilization
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"On Western Civilization"

Download file to see previous pages This is clear in his advice that princes should refrain from touching the property of other people. He justifies his advice with the statement: “because people sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony” (Machiavelli 55). I do not agree with this analysis of human nature, because I have seen how many people give up the pursuit of wealth and honor in order to struggle for peace and justice. I would not like to be ruled by a person who always thinks the worst of me. Another feature of Machiavelli’s world view that impacts upon the ordinary person is the fact that he thinks it is better for a prince to rely on fear than to rely on love. This implies that the rules of society in such a kingdom would be based on threats and punishments rather than on a relationship of affection between the people and the ruler. Fear is not a good basis for any human relationship because it distorts the way people behave, and makes them want to avoid punishment as their first objective, rather than consider what the most proper or moral course of action would be. Machiavelli maintains that “a wise prince should rely on what he controls, and not on what he cannot control” (Machiavelli 56) and this shows that he does not believe in letting people use their free will. Rules would want a robot-like obedience in their courtiers, and this would make it hard for ordinary people to express any opinions that are different from the prevailing views. I think this is dangerous, because rulers who use power in this way are too distant from everyday life, and they cannot always know what is best. I think any country, or even any group or family, needs to allow different opinions to be expressed, so that fuller understanding can be gained and better decisions can be made. There is no reason why the prince’s view should always be the right one. I believe that living in this kingdom would have made the ordinary people cynical about power, and suspicious of anyone who was in a high position in society. The real problem with Machiavelli’s view of power is that he seems to think that military strength and power is enough on its own to guarantee stability: “If a despot could bring all of Italy under his rule, he believed, the country would benefit from effective government the same way that individual states had done” (Lewis 265). This may indeed be true in the short term, but later examples of history such as the rise of Hitler and Stalin show what happens when a despotic leader becomes too strong. Millions of people are murdered and the will of the ordinary person is crushed. This is no way to run a state and that is why I would not like to live under a prince who follows Machiavelli’s advice. 2. The Black Death The spread of plague across Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century affected every aspect of life. It must have been a terrible experience for ordinary families to see it coming closer and gradually taking the lives of men, women and children in an arbitrary manner. In those times medical knowledge was inexact, and people were not sure what caused it and had no way of curing it. The most immediate effect was the killing of a quarter of the population, which devastated essential industries including food production and waste disposal, but an important secondary effect was ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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