machiavelli the prince
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Machiavelli's approach to humanism represents a dramatic shift from traditional, Christian ideas of virtue to a belief in the importance of self-interest, as justified by secularism. He expresses the opinion that virtue is not a black-and-white concept, and holds that actions should be judged as "right" or "wrong" based on their utility. Machiavelli seems aware in this work of his audience - indeed, The Prince is positioned as a gift to Lorenzo de Medici - and thus must have been conscious of the need to temper his animosity towards the Church. However, the entire text directly refutes traditional religious values, arguing that a truly successful political leader simply cannot be a perfect Christian. Religion, Machiavelli seems to believe, has very little place in the political realm.