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12
Dec
2009
The end justifies the means E-mail
ND Notes - ND Updates and News
Written by ND
Niccolo Machiavelli (3. May 1469 – 21. June 1527) - we do not describe and quote a Spaniard this time like in a past ND note, but a great and world famous philosopher and writer from Florence who shaped the world as well. He lived in the beautiful city Florence in todays known Italian Republic.

At that time Italy (that's what we call it today, but did not existed as a national construct at that time; it was divided into city-states) was occupied and controlled by the Spanish Empire, Holy Roman Empire and France (France - which was much weaker than Spain but slowly on its way to an emerging power; Spain dominated and influenced almost all of western Europe in that age and even much longer half of the world for almost 430 years). He wrote that  "the ends justify the means", a decisive sentence that is ever used and also misused since then.

Typically, this quote is misinterpreted as any action, no matter how unethical or immoral, can be justified for the purpose of any reasonable or needed outcome. However, Machiavelli suggested and supported this pragmatic philosophy only for the purpose of stabilizing and improving governments.

Machiavelli specifically stated that this philosophy could not be ethically used by individuals for personal greed, profit, or self improvement. Furthermore, Machiavelli believed that any possibly "cruel actions" by governments should be "swift, effective, and short-lived" to decrease the harmful impact on their citizens and to minimize the probability of rebellion.

I think in this modern age the Machiavellian philosophy of  "the ends justify the means" needs to be expanded upon.

First, companies are using this philosophy despite any consequences to individuals or the world. For example, businesses believe that profits are more important than their employees or their customers and human beings in general. Also, companies and governments continue to knowingly harm the environment without care for wildlife, people, or future generations. This is obviously wrong, and companies should be made accountable for their actions just like people are, since greed is not a valid excuse for the ends justifying the means.

Second, governments are suppose to use this Machiavellian philosophy only to help their citizens, yet political leaders continue to use this reasoning for war with other countries or simply just harming other countries politically, economically, and socially. These leaders should not help the citizens of their countries at the cost of harming citizens of other counties.

Because of human nature, and we are all part of it despite of our heritage, race, or country it has been repeatedly proven that individuals, companies, and governments can not morally justify their actions based on greed. And since we now live in an increasingly interdependent world, humanity can only afford the Machiavellian philosophy of  "the ends justify the means" to help the entire human race or planet.

Yet who can the world trust to be idealistic and moral enough to help all of humanity and the environment, and at the same time, be practical enough to make extremely difficult decisions that can and will harm a great deal of people and the community?

You might also be interested in a past ND Note about the Spaniard and great philosopher and writer Balthasar Gracián. Fasten your seat belts in 2010.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian philosopher/writer, and is considered one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, musician, and playwright, but, foremost, he was a civil servant of the Florentine Republic. In June of 1498, after the ouster and execution of Girolamo Savonarola, the Great Council elected Machiavelli as Secretary to the second Chancery of the Republic of Florence.

Like Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli is considered a typical example of the Renaissance Man. He is most famous for a short political treatise, The Prince, written in 1513, but not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. Although he privately circulated The Prince among friends, the only work he published in his lifetime was The Art of War, about high-military science. Since the sixteenth century, generations of politicians remain attracted and repelled by the cynical approach to power posited in The Prince and his other works. Whatever his personal intentions, which are still debated today, his surname yielded the modern political word Machiavellianism - the use of cunning and deceitful tactics in politics.

Our valuable Editor ND has been with us since Monday, 15 June 2009.

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