Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings

From Aquinas to Machiavelli – a continuum of political thought College

Ernst Cassirer states in his book The Myth of the State that “The Prince is neither a moral nor an immoral book: it is simply a technical book. In a technical book we do not seek for rules of ethical conduct, of good and evil. It is enough if we are told what is useful and useless”[1] Machiavelli’s treatise The Prince certainly seems to follow a more technical path rather than a moralistic one. This can be seen from the language and tone that is used throughout the book, but also when compared with Christian writers such as Thomas Aquinas. This essay will try to survey how Machiavelli’s principles align with Aquinas’ in regards to the ultimate political good but also, how they deviate and take a different shape when considering human nature in a comprehensive form and when God is taken out of the equation and given a lesser importance. We will use as a contrast the different attributes that a king should have in each author’s point of view and the implications of different concepts such as war and peace.

Machiavelli’s technical approach can be seen through the fact that he is merely presenting existent notions and not endorsing them through a personal lens. He begins his first chapter by laying out the facts: “All the states...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 943 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7594 literature essays, 2152 sample college application essays, 318 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in