Essay - INTRODUCTION Describe what is power. Power is...

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INTRODUCTION Describe what is power. Power is essentially understood in relation to others, once put in comparison, you always have power over someone else. Another conception of power would be individual power, meaning power to exercise ones individual rights. These two main conceptions shall be used in this essay.
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Machiavelli Whenever the word “power” is analyzed within political theory it cannot be substantiated upon without considering the Italian political philosopher: Niccolo Machiavelli. In his attempt to bestow his own particular brand of wisdom and advice to the 16 th century Italian princes, Machiavelli provided the world with its most enduring and infamous instruction manual on the general nature of political conduct, rules and strategy; but most importantly, on how to rule. Machiavelli took a rather straightforward view regarding the question of power: achieving power is the most important political aim of all, simply because it is the best way to sustain ones rule. Ultimately the telos for Machiavelli is to gain the political objective of power. Indeed, what else is “The Prince” other than a no-nonsense, pragmatic approach to gain and manipulate power in order to maintain ones rule. The political actor in the Machiavellian world is only in pursuit of his self interest which is acquiring power. Even a brief glimpse at the chapters comprising “The Prince” can illuminate this-each chapter laden with instructions on how to capture and sustain power to ensure the “prince’s” rule. For instance chapter five of “The Prince” (pg 102) advises on how best to hold rule and power over “cities or dominions that…lived under their own laws”. It was clear for Machiavelli that political power had absolutely no relation with the concept of morality or ethics as it was understood at the time; moral claims were not a part of his objectives. It did not matter whether the decision taken satisfied a moral requisite even if it actually did, sustaining ones power was the ultimate and the principal aim. Furthermore any inclination towards a moral disposition was simply not sufficient for ones main aim of acquiring and maintaining power. Indeed if it requires being cruel and ruthless to achieve that aim, then that is what Machiavelli advises one to be. He makes this position clear in chapter 15 when he says “Therefore it necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case”. An underlying theme observable in Machiavelli’s work is that he tends to believe that most people are fundamentally not good; in the sense that he has a very pessimistic understanding and expectation from human nature. For Machiavelli human beings are naturally self centered and fickle. They only seem to do the right thing when it is to their advantage and the moment it leaves them they can descend to a level of cunning and wickedness. As Machiavelli says in chapter 15 of The Prince “A man who wishes to
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This note was uploaded on 04/13/2011 for the course POL 100 taught by Professor Rasulbakshrais during the Spring '11 term at Lahore University of Management Sciences.

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Essay - INTRODUCTION Describe what is power. Power is...

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