This sample essay on Machiavelli Human Nature provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Throughout our study of political theory this semester there seems to be a recurring theme prevalent in each of the readings, that being an attempt to explain and characterize human nature. The concept of human nature relies on the idea that there is an innate set of characteristics shared by all humans which explain the way people act, feel, or even think.

As a political scientist, it’s important to question what causes these characteristics to exist, if at all, as they are of great importance when trying to understand the vast political structure and all of the underlying factors which allow politics to function.

I would also argue that the understanding of the concept of human nature is also crucial when discussing the realm of human society, as the idea of human nature provides the standard for how people can functionally coexist with one another while also determining whether or not an individual has lead a good life or not.

Thomas Hobbes and Machiavelli provide the best accounts of true human nature, as both men suggest that humans, by nature, are corrupt, self-interested, and are destined to destroy themselves and the people around them in an attempt to achieve their own desires, ideas which one can still see practiced in modern day capitalism.

Nature Essay Topics

In his writing of Leviathan, Hobbes describes the individual human as a highly sophisticated machine, in which all of the inner-workings described as mechanical functions (Leviathan, p.

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9). Hobbes’ relation of a human to a machine provides the jumping off point for his belief regarding what drives human actions. Hobbes claims that certain appetites or desires come about in the human experience and that these desires must be dealt with, and that each individual will choose to act upon these appetites in an effort to achieve their own self-preservation (Leviathan, p.

39). This view that it is human nature to act upon the desires which are most prevalent in our lives raises the idea that humans are innately self-interested, if not selfish. Hobbes acknowledges that the natural human inclination to act independently of one another while promoting self-interests results in a perpetual state of war through which men will attempt to conquer one another to achieve personal desires (Leviathan, p. 88-89). The state of war proposed by Hobbes results in a way of life that is “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short” (Leviathan, p.89).

The self-interested behavior that humans innately exhibit according to Hobbes, seems to draw a direct modern day parallel to the actions undertaken by many in America’s current capitalistic economic system, an issue which I will tackle farther along in my paper, but now I will turn to another cynic of human nature, Niccolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli, perhaps even more so than Hobbes, had a very pessimistic view regarding human nature which is quite relevant throughout the numerous chapters of The Prince.

For one can say this generally of men: that they are ungrateful, fickle, pretenders and dissemblers, evaders of danger, eager for gain. While you do them good, they are yours, offering you their blood, property, lives, and children … when the need for them is far away; but, when it is close to you, they revolt. (The Prince, p. 66) Here Machiavelli provides an obviously destructive criticism of human nature, in that men innately are beings that will turn on one another at the drop of a hat when things aren’t going the way they wish them to.

The statement that men are also “eager for gain” is also very telling in that Machiavelli believes, similar to the thought process of Hobbes, that it is human nature to act in a self-interested manner, where all that really matters is individual prosperity rather than social well-being. Machiavelli continues his assault on the nature of men when stating, “love is held by a chain of obligation, which, because men are wicked, is broken at every opportunity for their own utility” (The Prince, p. 66). Machiavelli here makes several ascertations regarding human nature, some similar to the beliefs presented by his first quote.

First that the affection and trustworthiness of men is constantly on a tipping scale, in affluent times men can be trusted and are capable of love towards others, whereas when harsh times befall men, then will act to deceive and revert back to their selfish nature in order to gain a leg up in society. In reference to the “chain of obligation” being broken, Machiavelli is stating that it is human nature for men to break the ties which bind them to certain obligations when they see fit, and the breaking of these bonds shows how untrustworthy human beings truly are.

Machiavelli yet again questions the trustworthiness and the self-interests of human nature by stating “and if all men were good, this teaching would not be good; but because they are wicked and do not observe faith with you.. ” (The Prince, p. 69). Machiavelli again postulates that by human nature men are “wicked,” and in this instance in referring to the fact that men cannot be trusted because they do not share the same desires that the Prince may have. The idea that due to human nature men cannot be trusted again rears its ugly head. Finally I present a fourth and final quote from Machiavelli in regards to his thoughts of human nature:

Truly it is a very natural and ordinary thing to desire to acquire, and always, when men do it who can, they will be praised or not blamed; but when they cannot, and wish to do it anyway, here lie the error and the blame. (The Prince, p. 14-15) Machiavelli again takes aim at the innate human desire to acquire wealth and material possessions for himself, but also at those who attempt to obtain such things. Another idea presented here is that one aspect of human nature is to glorify those who can achieve their goals, while at the same time admonishing those who, for some circumstance, weren’t able to achieve a certain goal.

This statement says a lot regarding human nature, in that through achievement of goals one might obtain some sort of power, and it is human nature to admire any form of power regardless of how it can about. Machiavelli’s opinion of human nature is one that is cynical and at times dreadful, but in referencing his beliefs to the modern day acts of those in America, I don’t think he was far off.

Works Cited 1. ) Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan) Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Trans. Harvey C. Mansfield. Chicago, IL: The U of Chicago P, 1998. Print.

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Machiavelli Human Nature
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