Comparing Lao-Tzu and Machiavelli
What is the purpose of a government? Many philosophers have asked this question. Lao-Tzu is an ancient Chinese philosopher and author of the Tao-te Ching. Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher, and author of the Prince who live 2000 years after Lao-Tzu’s time. They each have distinctive ideas on how a government should function. Both philosophers’ writings are instructive on how to be a good leader. Comparing the two writings it is obvious that Lao-Tzu and Machiavelli each take a different stand on what are the characteristics of a good leader, obligations of a leader, and the purpose of the government.
According to Machiavelli’s Prince a leader should be feared and uncompromising. The prince should not be held to keep his word. “How praiseworthy it is for a prince to keep his word and to live by integrity and not by deceit everyone knows; nevertheless, one sees the experience of our times that the prince who have accomplished great deeds are those who have cared little for keeping their promise and who have known how to manipulate the minds of men by shrewdness and in the end of they have surpassed those who laid their foundation upon honesty”(Machiavelli 45). This an example on how Machiavelli thinks it would be good for a leader to be honest but in this world it is not possible , and the leaders that have the most success are the ones that tend to go back on their word to make the country better. He also believes that it would be safer to be a feared leader “From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than to be feared, or on the contrary. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking”(Machiavelli 46). He fears that when a leader cares to be liked that he will lose sight of making the right choices to keep the country in a prosperous state.
In contrast to...