final draft - Taqi 1 M.Abbas Taqi POL 102 Western Political...

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Taqi M.Abbas Taqi 2013-02-0136 POL 102: Western Political Philosophy Richard Ganis Power is one of the most elemental concepts within political philosophy; the relationship between power and morality has been debated by philosophers and theorists for centuries. This essay will attempt to examine this contest in light of the views of three highly influential philosophers: Niccolo Machiavelli, Immanuel Kant, and Karl Marx. By the end a conclusion will have been reached on how these philosophers view this debate, and how much they differ in that view. The first subject of analysis is Machiavelli. Whenever the word “power” is analyzed within political theory it cannot be substantiated upon without considering this Italian political philosopher. 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” advises on how best to hold rule and power over “cities or dominions that…lived under their own laws”. In chapter seven Machiavelli again reiterates this stance by praising the duke 1
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Taqi Cesare Borgia because he managed to “secure himself against enemies, to gain friends, to conquer by force or fraud…” It was clear for Machiavelli however 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 fifteen of “The Prince” when he says “therefore it is 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”. At the same time Machiavelli accepts the importance of morality for the political actor in gaining “consent” of the people when he says in chapter eighteen that in public the prince should show himself to be humble, sincere etc. For him morality could be used as a resource to gain
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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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final draft - Taqi 1 M.Abbas Taqi POL 102 Western Political...

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