Throughout the course of history numerous scholars have stepped forward to offer their opinions on critical issues such as human rights and government. While there are notable differences offered by various authors, each of the viewpoints given provide critical insight into the various dimensions of the particular subject. Using this as a basis for inquiry and analysis, this investigation considers the opinions of government offered by two very different scholars: Machiavelli and Lao Tsu. Specifically, this research summarizes and compares the opinions about government offered by both of these authors through their seminal works, The Prince and Tao Te Ching.
Machiavelli and Government
Looking first at a broad overview of Machiavelli's work, The Prince, it is evident that this scholar is principally concerned with the particular issues that are involved describing the duties and obligations of the ruler. The text begins with a review of the various types of principalities that a ruler must oversee. In addition, the opening chapters also consider the specific type of governance that is needed in the various types of principalities, including those that have been acquired from other states. In addition, Machiavelli provides an overview of how to acquire states.
[...] Lao Tsu and Government Considering next a broad overview of Tsu's Tao Te Ching, scholars have noted that this text a summary of the basic tenets of Taoism. Thus, unlike Machiavelli's work which focuses specifically how rulers should gain and retain their power, Tsu's work focuses more broadly on universal axioms that lead to the core meaning of Taoism or the search for one undivided truth, the central focus of Taoism. The text consists of 81 chapters, which begin with an examination of what Tao is and the methods by which it can be acquired. [...]
[...] Machiavelli, on the other hand, saw the importance of government to the larger context of social structure and argued in favor for the development of government devoid of any type of moral code—good or bad. Conclusion What is perhaps most interesting about these two viewpoints is that they represent markedly different methods for achieving the same end. Both scholars believed that government should have very little interaction in the life of the individual citizen. However, Machiavelli favored the development of an amoral government, while Tsu favored a system in which no action on the part of the government would eventually give rise to a system of equilibrium that would be in balance with nature. [...]
[...] Tsu goes on to observe that, take no action and the people are reformed. I enjoy peace and people become honest. I do nothing and people become rich” (Chapter 57). What Tsu is advocating for is the application of morality to government such that no action is taken and the governed are left to their own devices to resolve pressing social issues. When framed in this context, it becomes quite evident that there are both similarities and differences between how Tsu and Machiavelli viewed the institution of government. [...]
[...] Considering the specific context of Machiavelli's opinions on government, a review of his writing in The Prince demonstrates that Machiavelli argues that government should be run as an amoral institution. To illustrate this point one only needs to consider how Machiavelli views how the prince or ruler should act toward his subjects: Because how one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil. [...]
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