Socrates and Machiavelli are two great philosophers who believed in different ideologies about how people are supposed to live in a nation under administration and authority. However, the two had some merging points, where they could agree on some issues. According to Socrates, people in the community depended on each other for their survival since no person is complete without the other. He further postulated that people have different capacities to perform various tasks, and thus no person can have all the necessary art. Therefore, Socrates advocated for mutual interdependence among members of the society (Kreeft, 2002).
On the other hand, Machiavelli postulated that a leader should take necessary actions in order to protect his interests and of the fellow citizens. Additionally, he believed that, as a leader, one has to gain respect and power in whatever means. Therefore, it is obvious that there is a significant difference in the two philosophers’ angle of thinking.
Socrates talks about a City in Speech in bringing out the difference in injustice and justice, in a wider perspective. According to Socrates, he talks of no justice and injustice in this city. Basically, Socrates argued that, since there is no conflict in the city thus there would not be justice or injustice. However, according to Machiavelli perception, he postulated that there existed justice and justice in the city. Machiavelli advocated for taking ruthless measures like grabbing of neighbors land so that his nation can take advantage out of the resource. Therefore, in this perception it is obvious that conflict would prevail in the city (Kocis, 2000).
However, even though Machiavelli might seem to be an extremist on how he perceives real life issues, he comes into terms with various issues in the republic. For instance, Machiavelli acknowledges the city format, systems of government and its importance to the citizens. Therefore, it becomes quite evident that Machiavelli praises and also advocates for some issues in the republic.
Initially, Machiavelli takes an example where he postulates that grabbing of neighbors land in order to live in a luxurious lifestyle. Therefore, Machiavelli injustice trait is exhibited in the way an individual takes any necessary measure for self interests and thus ignores others. On the other hand, Machiavelli argues that acting on self interest is the best way to go. Further, he emphasizes on taking extreme actions in order to overthrow a nation (Kreeft, 2002).
Generally, Socrates belief seems good, and thus preferred actually as the best. Additionally, Socrates makes use of the parable of people in the cave to show out the difference between seeming and actually being. He reiterates that, it is only through exposure of people from the cave that the true and what seems to be may be exhibited rather than use of images (Kreeft, 2002).
On the other hand, Machiavelli uses the same parable to show that individuals should be held in the cave, in order to bring out the aspect of injustice in the society. Further, Machiavelli uses an example of a prince to bring out his idea about the injustice theory. Machiavelli presents various ways in which a prince can come in to power and goes further to justify all the measures taken to grab power. Additionally, Machiavelli suggests that a leader should seem good under certain situations and conditions in achieving a particular objective, rather than actually be good. He advises an aspiring prince on how to take and maintain power through deceit and convincing the public to vote in his favor. However, it is convincing on which side to take between the Socrates theory and the Machiavelli theory of philosophy. Additionally, in determining the most appropriate side to take, there are various factors to be put into consideration.
Generally, a leader has the obligation to make essential decisions, in undertaking an activity. Therefore, leaders are endowed with the rights to do all that is necessary as the authority outlines. Additionally, Plato argues that a leader is said to undertake serious decisions and sacrifices in order to protect the interest of the citizens. Machiavelli, on this perspective, tends to agree and coincide with Plato’s perception regarding the role and responsibilities. Therefore, both Machiavelli and Plato stipulate that it necessary for a leader to have absolute powers in order to perform his duties in the appropriate manner (Kreeft, 2002).
In this case, Plato argues that leaders have special characters and are the ones who are exceptionally fit to rule; thus they should have the powers. On the other hand, Machiavelli suggests that a ruler will always acts in line with the citizen’s want and society needs; thus they take sacrifices on behalf of the society’s interests at large. Additionally, both Machiavelli and Plato also agree that in order to create civilization, virtue is necessary.
In 399BC, Socrates is arrested and convicted of humanitarian charges. He is then sentenced to a death penalty. At the same time, Machiavelli is also arrested and convicted of charges. However, Machiavelli is imprisoned for a jail term. Machiavelli continues with his spirit of spreading philosophical thinking around the world. After being released from jail, Machiavelli writes a book on how anyone interested in getting and maintaining power, the Prince. Additionally, after the execution of Socrates, Plato also writes the Republic. The two writings are different; however, there are some common ideas shared in the writings. However, it is said that, Thrasymuchus' ideas are the ones which are in agreement with Machiavelli ideas. Therefore, Socrates ideas are not to a large extend agree with Machiavelli perceptions.
On the other hand, Socrates believed that a leader must be rational and thus a wise man believes in justice, virtue and the notion, of master of oneself. On the contrary to Socrates, Machiavelli speaks of a leader as a person who can use evil means in order to justify his goals and objectives (Kocis, 2000).
Both the republic and the prince talk about an aspect of education in their mentioning. According to Socrates, it is possible for people to be just and thus make decisions and judgments for themselves and for the entire world appropriately. Therefore, Socrates believed in justice in making sound and correct judgment for the beneficiary of the society. On the other hand, Machiavelli holds onto and believes in grabbing of power and dictatorship methods of ruling. Further he stated that it would be wise to live with a miser's reputation, which would produce reproach, but with no hatred, than incurring the reputation of rapacity, which would produce reproach, as well as hatred because one wants to be regarded as generous."
Therefore, by comparing the two ideologies, Machiavelli believes that forceful measures are imperative to hold and maintain power. On the other hand, Socrates stipulates that there must be virtue, justice and wisdom in becoming a leader since it provides the required qualities and leadership skills. Machiavelli and Thrasymuchus’ ideas are more aimed at getting into tyranny leadership rather justice and democratic leadership advocated by Socrates. Socrates believed in dealing with the society in a democratic manner and argues that its better do have justice in the society (Kocis, 2000).
Socrates “technique” of cross-examination was uniquely and clearly illustrated in the Socrates ideas. However, the idea does not in any way manifest itself in either Machiavelli or Thrasymuchus’ ideologies. Generally, Philosophical Virtue is an aspect that people normally do not possess. In this perspective, it is evident that Socrates deals with the society in a just and democratic manner. Therefore, he deals with societal matters with concern about epistemology, metaphysics, sense of logic and ethics. All this aspects are crucial and have their respective meaning and role in the lives of individuals in the society. The aspect of ethics determines how individual’s live, good logic revolves around morally upright reasoning, and metaphysics, on the other hand, explains more about the existence of things and their nature while epistemology is the accountability of true knowledge. Therefore, having all that knowledge, it is certain that normal will have philosophical virtue (Kocis, 2000).
Accordingly, people should live in a country where justice prevails, and there is respect to individual’s rights, which include life, pursuit of happiness and liberty. Therefore, individuals should try to respect the three aspects of life appropriately in order to build a good society.
In this perspective, Socrates stipulates that a wise man must believe in the power of justice, idea of master of oneself and virtue. On the contrary, Machiavelli believes in using evils means in order to achieve and justify rulers worthy objectives. Additionally, even though Machiavelli ideologies in the Prince are contradicting the ultimate goal is to have a powerful leader in the society.
Machiavelli encourages forceful grabbing of territory with a vengeance. Using the cave parable by Socrates, Machiavelli ideas about the city can be clearly stated. Accordingly, Machiavelli would recommend for all the people to remain the cave never to see the light. Moreover, he gave the prince confidence to keep all men in the cave and never bring them out to see reality rather face images in the cave. In other words, by seeming character traits that are not his, the prince keeps the citizen in the cave thus preventing them from realizing the reality. Basically, the citizens are meant to see just the image of the prince which purport and commands fear, power and respect from the citizens. However, this may not present the truth form of the prince. Therefore, a prince cannot put in to consideration all those good qualities that the citizens demand. Machiavelli suggest that, the best way to carry out roles and responsibility as a prince are by taking in whatever qualities that suitably fit for the objectives meant to be accomplished.
Machiavelli writings are dedicated to Lorenzo de’Medici advising in ways of gaining and maintaining power. However, the instructions on the book are persuading in taking ruthless actions and strategies in order to gain power. Therefore, it implies that if the actions are followed to the letter, it would be a sure death for Lorenzo. Additionally, Machiavelli advises Lorenzo to take callous and deceitful techniques as a ruler. Further, he considers being feared to being loved. Machiavelli postulates that for Lorenzo to gain power in the government, he must kill off existing members in the government (Kreeft, 2002).
Additionally, Machiavelli emphasizes on acting like Charles VII, who saw it necessary to arm his own men. He advises Lorenzo if he finds his men unarmed he should arm them. On the other hand, Machiavelli recommends for building of a fortress. However, he argues that the physical fortress is not necessary since it cannot prevent a prince from individuals’ hatred. Therefore, it means that the prince actions would result to hate from the citizens, and without a fortress the prince would be very much susceptible to people’s attack. However, in is dedication to Lorenzo, Machiavelli seems to be backing Lorenzo with his ideas. On the other hand, his trustworthiness is put in to question.
According to Machiavelli individuals who flatter you are not to be trusted at all. However, in this case he is seen to encourage Lorenzo into taking the certain steps which ultimately may lead to Lorenzo’s death. Therefore, it can be deducted that Machiavelli is seems to be rather than what actually he is.
The Republic is a better place to be as argued by Socrates. According to Socrates, it is more pleasant to live in a democratic society free from any humiliation actions by the ruler. Additionally, there should be justice in the society in order to hold everyone accountable for his or her acts. On the contrary, Machiavelli believes that the citizens are better in the cave than seeing what is real. Therefore, Machiavelli way of thinking is aimed at a dictatorship kind of ruling system, which is characterized by manipulative and authoritative acts. It can be deduced that Machiavelli does not aim at the welfare of the citizens rather gain and maintain power under strict rules while hiding his true identity. Therefore, it is clear that Machiavelli advises to Lorenzo would just get him killed (Kocis, 2000).
On the other hand, individuals in the republic advocate for equality and common interest as a whole in the society. People have the right to acknowledge and differentiate the reality from what it seems to be. In the republic, the responsibility is to guide those who do not have the wisdom and ability to rule. Therefore, it is non-exploitative society faced with democratic rights for every individual. This perspective goes to the same knowledge and thinking of Socrates where he stipulates that people are inter-depended with each other, and no one person can live without some kind of help from the other. In this view, it is certain that different individuals possess different capabilities and qualities.
On the contrary, it is the case the prince, where Machiavelli advocates for killing off existing members of the government in order to gain power. However, according to his “technique” of oppression and tyranny, it seems as the best in handling issues, which are purposed for the best of the society. In so doing, the prince would act according to the welfare of the kingdom rather than the welfare of the community (Kreeft, 2002).
In evaluating both ideologies between Socrates and Machiavelli, it is clear that Machiavelli way of thinking is not good at all. Advocating deceitful and cruel ways to gain power would cause anger and fear. Additionally, a leader should portray his or her real character instead of seeming what he is not. On the other hand, Socrates looks at the theory of seeming as too bad and thus advocates for reality, being.
In conclusion, under the parable of the cave, individuals who remain in the cave never knew reality and the light of the outside world. On the other hand, Machiavelli deprives his citizens seeing the beauty lying in the outside world, for personal interests. Therefore, Plato attests to Socrates perception of allowing citizens see the reality behind their leaders rather than what they pretend to be their undertakings as rulers.
Kocis, R. (2000). Machiavelli redeemed. Cranbury, NJ: Lehigh University Press.
Kreeft, P. (2002). Socrates Meets Machiavelli. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.