Power for its own sake

The PrinceThe Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve read this before in other translations, and I enjoyed Mansfield’s this time. As has been said many times before, Machiavelli’s ideal prince is one whose virtu (usually translated virtue) allows him to triumph over internal and external enemies. For him, virtu is manly, strong, and ruthless when necessary, allowing the prince to accomplish his supreme goal of keeping and expanding his power. His insistence that moral principles are only good in politics as far as they are useful is still a striking feature of his argument.

3 stars: enjoyable for its analysis of the messy world of politics and Mansfield’s presentation, bad for its advice untethered from ultimate right and wrong

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