The Prince in Classics in Western Thought
The Prince is Machiavelli’s composition which he used as a practical guideline for ruling his people. In the book, he mentioned that men were coming to the realization that it was impossible to come up with one permanent social order that can reflect the will of God. This is because politics had its laws making it more scientific than religious for the purposes of keeping the society alive within a stream of moving history. It means that every situation is unique because it requires man to utilize all his strength to come up with the potentialities that he can use at the moment.
Based on Machiavelli’s remarks on social order, it is evident that he prefers free republic whereby people can exercise their free will. This is the reason he claims that there is no permanent social order. Machiavelli believed that it was the role of the Prince to conduct investigation to determine the success or failure brought about by free will and the way in which nature can contribute to the ways in which people lives. He is aware that the society is comprised of both criminal and immoral actions which do not reflect the will of God which is for people to live an orderly and peaceful life. It means that Machiavelli was aware of the presence of evil in the society. He lived in a period when there was political instability and continuous conflicts that influenced the ways in which the social order was structured. Many people lost their pleasures, freedom and even equality because of the wars during this period.
During the Renaissance period, humanism was something which was learnt and not a philosophy which was applicable to everyone. Empirical evidence was necessary to resolve any contradictions that existed between men thus the reason Machiavelli claimed that social order cannot reflect the will of God. This thought might have been attributed to his Catholic faith or his belief in immorality in the society which he used as a basis to make this statement. During the same period, people had new ideals regarding humanism which Machiavelli has applied in this case.
Majority of the humanistic ideals were more secular in various aspects which were mainly developed to resist Christianity particularly by the Northern Renaissance. This is the reason he talks about religion and at the same time talking about science showing a division in thoughts on the logical explanation about social order and politics. According to him, political laws were more scientific compared to religious. One may think that Machiavelli was a scientist who was trying to use empirical justifications to explain to people about political laws.
On the other hand, it shows that he believes more in science than religious to be the reason the society is alive and moving forward. This makes people question his faith in God based on this statement. He is like the other philosophers who believed that metaphysical reasons are the only logical way to explain the existence of man. Truth and logic according to them can only be derived and explained perfectly by pragmatic tests to refute any logical reasoning or factual issues that are hard to answer such as human faith and science (Knoebel 112).
It is the reason he claims that political laws were more scientific compared to religious law. The fact that he mentioned that the society is kept alive by the political laws shows that he does not believe in the logical reason behind God being the purpose for human existence. It was means that he did not believe in the free will whereby people act well. In this case, Machiavelli is using compromise to differentiate between determinism and free will by making claims that science controls human actions while the rest and contributed by free will. It means that he is confident regarding science being the power that shapes human destinies but also has the idea that humans control the events that happens to them. This is the reason he claims that man is required to use his strength to come up with various potentials which he is meant to use at a particular time.
However, Machiavelli can be considered as politically deceitful and satirical in various ways. Through his statements of religion and science, it is clear that he is not willing to unveil his true liberty which can make people in the society to detest him. He wants to appear like a hero and deserve that title of a prince but he has a hidden aim which contradicts everything that he is saying or teaching regarding political law. He is a superficial thinker thus uses his philosophical thoughts to make people believe in him and portrays a totally different picture from what people expected during the Renaissance period. As a philosopher, he understands that goodwill is the best political instrument that can ensure stability with the people while allowing him to reign based on his thoughts and desires.
Knoebel, Edgar. Classics of Western Thought. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1988.