Machiavelli says the prince only has to seem good, not be good. Plato insists that seeming is bad, being is good. Nicolo Machiavelli is known as being an realist who accepted that fact that humans are brutal, selfish, and fickle while Plato was an idealist who believed people could be ruled by a philosopher king who ruled over the warriors and tradesmen of his ideal republic with rationality. In his view the philosopher-king was in charge of making the state a “utopia” in that everyone had his/her place and all worked together for the common good of the state.
Machiavelli said that this was a foolish idea. Machiavelli philosophy of government was centered on the ruler. He believed the king, or despot, had the right to do whatever was necessary for his own gain, or whatever the monarch considered the “good of the state” which he called Virtu’. Machiavelli believed the only purpose for a ruler was to make war, and protect its citizens from attacks by other states. He advocated the slaughter of surrendered generals in order to crush hopes of revolution – even rationalizing that it was worth the risk of revolution should it anger the people.
Machiavelli believed a ruler should be immoral using deception and illusion for power and never allowing the people to know the “real” him In Machiavelli’s time, as it is today, the States whole reason for being was to serve the citizens. The ruler, therefore, is justified in doing whatever is necessary to maintain the country or state, even if it is unjust. In Plato’s time, man served the state. According to the viewed that ethics and politics are the same, or at least co-terminous. There was no distinction between private life and public life, as there is today.
Plato argues a ruler can never be unjust. Plato argues against this type of ruler, who rules solely by might. Plato tries to prove that it is always better to be just than unjust , claiming that there is a strong connection between justice , personal happiness and the well being of the state. Machiavelli underlines the fact that moral principles are not necessarily connected with the efficiency of the act of ruling . If the principles of morality and justice need to be broken in for the state to be prosperous , than this is how things should be done.
In the end, Plato and Machiavelli lived very different lives, contributing to their differing thoughts on the world. Plato grew up in the upper aristocratic class but was “adopted” by Socrates. As he followed Socrates, he learned all he would need for his later life as a philosopher when he essentially wandered around Greece without pay. In this way he was untouched by wealth’s corruption. Machiavelli, on the other hand, grew up in a wealthy Italian home and lived well supplied for by his patrons. The wealth that he was accustomed to was the main cause for his philosophy centered around personal gain.