The Prince | Study Guide

Niccolò Machiavelli

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The Prince | Chapter 25 : How Far Human Affairs Are Governed by Fortune, and How Fortune Can Be Opposed | Summary

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Summary

Even the most able people can fail due to bad luck. Machiavelli states that a belief that humans cannot, or should not, resist the changes in the world due to fortune is common. The persistent belief that luck is primarily responsible for the successes and failures of people comes from their reluctance to change their ways, according to Machiavelli. A prince who wishes to weather the changing world must adapt his habits to the way things are.

Analysis

Machiavelli notes throughout The Prince that able rulers are able to foresee and prepare for the future. How else could empires like Rome have endured for so long? Thus, adaptability is the key to dealing with the changes brought on by fortune. There is a possible problem with Machiavelli's argument here. If human beings are naturally resistant to changing their habits, then Machiavelli's arguments are based on an ideal picture of how things should be, rather than on the way they actually are. This contradicts Machiavelli's insistence in Chapter 15 that it is correct to focus on the way things are, rather than on an unrealistic ideal.

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