Morality and Politics: Aristotle and Machiavelli Essay
Morality and politics are two subjects that have been widely debated. In the “Politics”, Aristotle describes the relationship between communities and politics. Aristotle believes that “morality and politics should always go together” (Aristotle, 198). This is necessary because the two play an important role in promoting a virtuous life. Aristotle believes that leaders should never consider the political activity as a practice aimed at pursuing our personal or societal interests. Instead, he argues that leadership should be an important practice aimed at supporting a good life. That being the case, political activity should always promote morals and values (Aristotle 201). Such morals will ensure there is justice in order to give people their rights.
For a government to be effective, there must be a set of morals and virtues in place to ensure the people are happy. Justice is an important part of morality. According to Aristotle, political leaders should possess virtuous habits and behaviours. There is a need to support certain habits, such as friendship and unity. These habits are attainable through moral legislation. Aristotle also believes that living in a community is a critical component of societal morality. To have social order, there should be a sense of justice and morality (Aristotle, 205).
A political society should exist because of noble actions. This explains why it would be wrong to establish political societies based on mere companionship. Aristotle (205) goes further to state that a society is a union of villages living in self-sufficiency. The people in a society should always be happy. This explains the importance of morality in a political society. With this bold relationship between morals and politics, Aristotle’s ideas for a community and its relationship with its people continues to inspire many people today (Aristotle 207).
After many centuries, a “new law” has dominated our world thus changing promoting new political theories. Consequently, Machiavelli introduces an influential theory on politics. The great thinker based his views on Aristotle’s argument of “causes”. The outstanding lesson from Machiavelli is that both immorality and morality are important for leaders. This is necessary because the two have their purpose in political agenda and power. Machiavelli believes that not all men should be good (Machiavelli 46). The important thing is for a leader to remain fierce and always wise.
In his work, Machiavelli states clearly that leaders should never deviate from the good. This is the best way for them to remain powerful. As well, he goes further to say leaders should understand how to commit evil deeds whenever it is necessary. Machiavelli goes further to state that politics and morals are two distinct elements. He believes that “private morality” is necessary because it helps define the character of an individual. Sometimes the virtuous man might place himself at a great disadvantage. This explains why Machiavelli believes that a king or a leader can violate moral codes, especially when the end is justifiable or noble (Machiavelli 65).
The leader, according to Machiavelli, needs to rely on discretion and always remain decisive. This is the only way to become a great ruler. From this analysis, the outstanding fact is that Machiavelli is not against morality or goodness. Instead, he advises leaders and kings to use all means in order to maintain power (Machiavelli 73). This idea is useful for leaders whenever they encounter certain political challenges and obstacles. This explains why, according to Machiavelli, both “immorality” and “morality” have their own advantages.
From the above discussion, what comes out clearly is that both Machiavelli and Aristotle explain the importance of the relationship between morals and politics (Machiavelli 142). The emerging issue is whether moral ideas and principles are what should guide leaders. From a personal perspective, I would state clearly that ethical and moral principles should always guide leaders. According to Aristotle, moral principles are essential because they promote a good life. Leadership should always seek to bring happiness to the citizens. This explains why Aristotle’s political theory considers morality and ethics as two important elements of society.
On the other hand, Machiavelli believes strongly that the goals of a leader are more important than the codes of morality. The importance of the “end result” is what justifies such immoral ideas and acts. However, this is detestable because it mainly supports the interests of the leader and his society without necessarily considering the position of others in society (Aristotle 198). Such leaders, according to Aristotle, can make better communities. However, chances are high for leaders to become tyrants.
Although it might be hard to have the proper judgment of Aristotle’s views on morals and politics, his concept of the relationship between societies and individuals is something that inspires modern leaders and philosophers (Aristotle 208). He explains the importance of morality in order to help people understand the importance of good leadership. As well, there is a lot to borrow from Machiavelli’s concepts in an attempt to promote democracy. This study has widened my knowledge and views on politics and morals. Aristotle’s political theory presents numerous ideas on the relationship between morality and politics, thus helping leaders establish new societies. This is the best way to provide happiness to the greatest majority.
Aristotle. The Politics. Trans. Carnes Lord. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Print.
Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. New York: SoHo Books, 2011. Print.
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