The Prince

Comparison of Aristotle's and Machiavelli's Philosophies

The conflict between the ideal and the reality has long been the center of the debate in the history of political philosophy. Many famous philosophers have constructed an imaginary world upon which their entire theories are based. They believe an ideal model of the state, which serves as the final goal of human society, can guide people on a correct way to achieve the goal. Therefore investigation of this final goal is more important than any other topic. However, there are still some thinkers, such as Machiavelli, who doubt the feasibility of such ideal states. They believe that without developing reliable methods of achieving the goal from our daily experience, the end is unattainable and thus useless. Practical methodology, rather than the ideal model, is what we can control and experiment on. It is interesting to compare different roads that Aristotle and Machiavelli undertake to achieve what they believe is the most important thing through their political thoughts.

Among these practical thinkers, Machiavelli has the greatest influence on later generations. He believes that people do not follow philosophers’ prescriptive instructions on what they should do, but act according to their own interests. He says in The Prince that...

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