Machiavelli and Hobbes Essay

1502 Words May 13th, 2005 7 Pages
Machiavelli and Hobbes

To be successful, one must have the appearance of virtuousness, but not necessarily be virtuous. At least, this appears to be true according to Niccolo Machiavelli's works. Machiavelli's idea of the virtuous republican citizen may be compared to Hobbes' idea of a person who properly understands the nature and basis of sovereign political power. Hobbes' ideas seem to suggest that most anyone can claim rightful authority as there is a belief in God, and one can under Hobbes, claim legitimate authority rather easily. There are few proofs. Machiavelli, on the other hand, takes a strong position and suggests specific criteria in terms of power. With Machiavelli, there is a sense of righteousness and fairness and while
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Trust in the leader is essential and may be developed in many of ways. A Republican citizen may be compared to subjects of principalities or to corrupt political societies. However, a Republican citizen is not corrupt. He or she is dedicated to the proliferation of a good and peaceful state. Hobbes might respond to Machiavelli's claims for the superiority of republican citizenship and republic liberty quite differently, contending that the leader is not necessarily always morally correct. Yet, Hobbes does see sovereigns as deserving of respect and believes that they may know more than the average citizen. That kings and queens and princes are born knowing how to rule is a belief that perhaps these philosophers share.
Hobbes seems to simply see legitimate authority as existing by nature, and necessary due to the nature of man. In some way, one can say that this is true of Machiavelli as well. Hobbes said, in The Leviathan: "...it is the part of a wise man to believe them no further than right reason makes that which they say appear credible" In other words, Hobbes supports a host of things simply because he is fascinated with authority kings, queens, and princes, whether that authority is truly legitimate or not. While in some sense Hobbes is more reasonable in discerning right and wrong action, he still believes in God and that is paramount.

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