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4.0 von 5 Sternen It is better to be feared than to be loved, 6. Juni 2008
Mark O'Neill (Würzburg) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Prince (Penguin Classics) (Taschenbuch)
"The Prince" is a political essay, written by Machiavelli, in which he lays down his views on how a prince should gain power and keep it at all costs. His views are quite shocking at times but you have to bear in mind the unstable and violent circumstances in which he was writing it - the Italy he was living in is not the Italy we know today. So to survive in that age, you had to watch your back at all times, recognise your enemies, court your friends and build up your armies.

Machiavelli does not attempt to hide his contempt for mercenaries whom he describes as lazy, unreliable and without morals. He also believes that you should gain the love and respect of the people but at the same time you should also be feared by them. But if you have to choose between love and fear, fear is the better of the two.

He also espouses strong laws and strong military forces, stating that in order to stay in power, you must have the ability to meet your enemy on the battlefield and defeat them. Failing that, you must be able to fortify your city and hold it against a siege.

Another major point that he makes is that it is better to gain power from ordinary people rather than be taken to power from nobles. Ordinary people will then be content if you provide them with peace, stability and prosperity. Nobles on the other hand will have shifting allegiences, powerful interests and other people they will want to see at the top.

"The Prince" is considered to be a handbook for politicians everywhere and a masterpiece for how to gain power and keep it. The name "Machiavelli" is practically a verb for something underhanded and sly which goes to show how famous the author has become.

A must-read!
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5.0 von 5 Sternen ONE OF THE TEN BEST EVER WRITTEN, 29. Dezember 2004
alaskadoggie (Boom (near Antwerp), BELGIUM) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
Here are some BASIC, UTMOST IMPORTANT and UNIVERSAL REMARKS for those that start reading Niccolò Machiavelli, be it 'Il Principe' or his 'Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio', better known as 'The Discourses', giving a very original political comment on the the first ten books of Titus Livius.
* Machiavelli's ideas are NOT a close-fitting nor a rounded down system: who thinks elsehow will get into everlasting problems;
* The 'Secretarius Florentinus' is NOT a SYSTEMATIC philosopher in the scholastic sense of the word: he DOESN'T WORRY whether the question or idea he describes is IN CONCORDANCE with notions or opinions written down elsewhere. Therefore lots of statements can but difficultly be brought in accordance to the former AND can even bring CRITICISM INTO TROUBLE. This is of far lesser importance while these incongruities are merely touching the general points of departure of his work, instead of the distinct parts of his arguments. You can notice this through his LOGIC (as strong as iron!!) and an IRREFUTABLE CONSEQUENCE.
* Machiavelli stays A-MORAL in Il Principe, just as nature is: not judging about good and bad, not influenced by a religion or anything else!! I know people have problems with this last 'way of writing, thinking', BUT this is the most important factor that makes his work so IMMENSELY UNIVERSAL...
Il Principe is a flaming and militant political piece of writing in which the author is not only rationally, but also emotionally 'present' with the full power of his personality.
Machiavelli's ideas are closely related to the general philosophical concept of the Renaissance. His vision too is antropocentric: the only right to exist man has, is present in man himself AND in the realisation of the self in this world.
Machiavelli is the founder of the political science(s): nobody before him had considered that politic is a single, separate science, free of any moral or religion.
In his system he isolates the technical bias (read: orientation) on what is politically useful from the moral and theological aspect of kindness and justice. He defines sharply THE PURPOSE that one wants to reach, to achieve and THEN, starting from the situation in which a (the) person stands, WEIGHS UP THE PROS AND CONS (on a rational-technical basis) OF THE MEANS THAT LEAD TO THE PURPOSE. WHICH MEANS THOSE ARE, DOES NOT MATTER (= AMORAL).
A means or reason that is MORALLY BAD, can be GOOD FOR POLITICS and VICE VERSA...!
Instead of talking about The Prince, it is only correct to use the word RULER: the crucial person in this work. For Machiavelli it was Cesare Borgia, for Nietzsche it was Napoleon, who REALLY 'slept with Il Principe' (he understood the book very well).
Too many readers are misled by words as "fortune, virtue": in Middle-Italian (very difficult, even for specialists) the author uses the words "FORTUNA" and "VIRTU": these two words (f.e.) have NOTHING OR LITTLE IN COMMON with fortune and virtue or virtus. There are about 23 POSSIBLE TRANSLATIONS for the word virtù...
To be a good ruler is not easy. In 26 short chapters the biggest philosopher of the 16th century, Machiavelli describes what the ruler can and/or should do ... to stay 'the ruler', not to lose the power he/she has, in absence of moral and religion: amoral. THAT IS DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN: JUST LOOK AROUND, LISTEN TO THE NEWS, THINK ABOUT GLOBAL PROBLEMS: EVERYWHERE YOU'LL MEET NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI, WAVING WITH HIS HAND TO YOU AND TRYING TO MAKE YOU AND US FREE FROM PREJUDICES, WHISPERING WHAT WE SHOULD DO OR NOT.
I have read several editions of Il Principe, but have only one that stays with me since decades now: I read and keep on reading about our ruler forever, so my book will stay with me too.
Last note: The saying "The end justifies the means" is NOT from Machiavelli: it already existed for a few centuries.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Perfekt!, 11. Februar 2013
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Prince (Penguin Classics) (Taschenbuch)
Fantastic book - would definitely recommend to those with an interest in politics, history, or anyone looking for an interesting read. Purchase was easy and very fast.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The First Business Book I have ever read, 5. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Prince (Penguin Classics) (Taschenbuch)
Actually, this book about political theory is applicable to any organization, not just governmental. Niccolo Machiavelli was a very shrewd man. A book full of pearls such as "Whoever believes that with great men new services wipe out old injuries deceives himslef"; "Without opportunity their prowess would have been extinguished and without such prowess the opportunity would have come in vain"; "And here it has to be noted that men must either be pampered or crushed, because they can get revenge for small injuries but not for grievous ones"; "The first opinion that is formed of a ruler's intelligence is based on the quality of men he has around him"; "But as soon as you disarm your subjects you start to offend them" and many many others. I am glad I am writing this review because it has been such a long time since I went back to my small yellow book for reference.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Just a protest about calling Machiavelli MacHiavelli..., 17. März 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Prince (Hörkassette)
The question is: the man was Italian, not Scottish! And a great majority of your references use the wrong name.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen underappreciated classic, 10. März 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Prince (Classics) (Taschenbuch)
this is one of my all time favorite books. upon reading you may see the world in a new way, for better or worse. contrary to popular belief, machiavelli is not the monster history has made him out to be. in actuality, he favored a republic for florence. this book merely shows his mastery of totalitarian politics, as well as a clear understnading of how the world works.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The virtues of Machiavelli,, 23. Februar 2006
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Prince (Penguin Classics) (Taschenbuch)
In the course of my political science training, I studied at great length the modern idea of realpolitik. In that study I came to realise that it was somewhat incomplete, without the companionship of The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, a Florentine governmental official in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The Prince is an oft quoted, oft mis-quoted work, used as the philosophical underpinning for much of what is considered both pragmatic and wrong in politics today. To describe someone as being Machiavellian is to attribute to the person ruthless ambition, craftiness and merciless political tactics. Being believed to be Machiavellian is generally politically incorrect. Being Machiavellian, alas, can often be politically expedient.
Machiavelli based his work in The Prince upon his basic understanding of human nature. He held that people are motivated by fear and envy, by novelty, by desire for wealth, power and security, and by a hatred of restriction. In the Italy in which he was writing, democracy was an un-implemented Greek philosophical idea, not a political structure with a history of success; thus, one person's power usually involved the limitation of another person's power in an autocratic way.
Machiavelli did not see this as a permanent or natural state of being -- in fact, he felt that, during his age, human nature had been corrupted and reduced from a loftier nobility achieved during the golden ages of Greece and Rome. He decided that it was the corrupting influence of Christianity that had reduced human nature, by its exaltation of meekness, humility, and otherworldliness.
Machiavelli has a great admiration for the possible and potential, but finds himself inexorably drawn to the practical, dealing with situations as they are, thus becoming an early champion of realpolitik carried forward into this century by the likes of Kissinger, Thatcher, Nixon, and countless others. One of the innovations of Machiavelli's thought was the recognition that the prince, the leader of the city/state/empire/etc., was nonetheless a human being, and subject to all the human limitations and desires with which all contend.
Because the average prince (like the average person) is likely to be focussed upon his own interests, a prince's private interests are generally in opposition to those of his subjects. Fortunate is the kingdom ruled by a virtuous prince, virtue here not defined by Christian or religious tenets, but rather the civic virtue of being able to pursue his own interests without conflicting those of his subjects.
Virtue is that which increases power; vice is that which decreases power. These follow Machiavelli's assumptions about human nature. Machiavelli rejected the Platonic idea of a division between what a prince does and what a prince ought to do. The two principle instruments of the prince are force and propaganda, and the prince, in order to increase power (virtue) ought to employ force completely and ruthlessly, and propaganda wisely, backed up by force. Of course, for Machiavelli, the chief propaganda vehicle is that of religion.
Whoever reads Roman history attentively will see in how great a degree religion served in the command of the armies, in uniting the people and keeping them well conducted, and in covering the wicked with shame.
Machiavelli has been credited with giving ruthless strategies (the example of a new political ruler killing the deposed ruler and the ruler's family to prevent usurpation and plotting is well known) -- it is hard to enact many in current politics in a literal way, but many of his strategies can still be seen in electioneering at every level, in national and international relations, and even in corporate and family internal 'politics'. In fact, I have found fewer more Machiavellian types than in church politics!
Of course, these people would be considered 'virtuous' in Machiavellian terms -- doing what is necessary to increase power and authority.
The title of this piece -- the virtues of Machiavelli, must be considered in this frame; certainly in no way virtuous by current standards, but then, it shows, not all have the same standards. Be careful of the words you use -- they may have differing definitions.
Perhaps if Machiavelli had lived a bit later, and been informed by the general rise of science as a rational underpinning to the world, he might have been able to accept less of a degree of randomness in the universe. Perhaps he would have modified his views. Perhaps not -- after all, the realpolitikers of this age are aware of the scientific framework of the universe, and still pursue their courses.
This is an important work, intriguing in many respects. Far shorter than the average classical or medieval philosophical tome, and more accessible by current readers because of a greater familiarity with politics than, say, metaphysics or epistemology, this work yields benefits and insights to all who read, mark, inwardly digest, and critically examine the precepts.
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The Prince (Penguin Classics)
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