Aristotle And Niccolo Machiavelli 's Theory Of Virtue Essay

1701 Words Dec 14th, 2015 7 Pages
Both Aristotle and Niccolò Machiavelli are regarded as two of the greatest political theorists of all time. Their works are still studied and put into practice by many of modern history’s greatest leaders. However, despite their brilliance, they still adopt differing views regarding the definition and practice of Virtue. Comparing and contrasting both thinkers’ views on the subject provides a clearer insight on how one should rule and govern more effectively. The problem lies in the question of whether the straightforward Aristotelian view of Virtue or the distorted Machiavellian view is superior and more practical for the purposes of ruling a faction or state. As Aristotle begins to search for what really is the true and highest “good”, he deems that it must surely be found in the “highest ruling science” (Aristotle 1.2), which would undoubtedly be the science of how to rule. Immediately upon delving into Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, it becomes visibly obvious that Aristotle believes the topic of how to lead is one of the most important that he could possibly comment on. In Aristotelian terms, the polis is the primary place where Virtue is absolutely necessary. Machiavelli wholeheartedly believes that a true and effective ruler of any flourishing society must lead entirely without exception in accordance to Aristotle’s definition of Virtue. Aristotle defines Virtue as a state of character that is on the opposite end of the spectrum as vice. However, it is not merely…

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