30 famous Machiavelli quotes on change, power and human nature
Do you know of any Machiavelli quotes that speak to you directly? Well, the Italian philosopher and writer has influenced a lot of school of thoughts over the years. Best known as Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, the Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher, and writer, was also revered for his book, The Prince, written in 1513. Many refer to him as the father of modern political philosophy and political science.
There are several diverse ideas and views the philosopher stood for. Most of his thoughts and ideas have been captured in popular Niccolo Machiavelli quotes. What are these Niccolò Machiavelli quotes, and are there some that you love most? Well, having been a philosopher of his time, he had a lot to say about different subjects. This explains the numerous cool Machiavelli quotes available today. But before we get to understand the different quotes, it would be interesting to know what the father of modern philosophy though on different subjects.
Machiavelli quotes on human nature
Machiavelli believes that human nature dictated how people should be led. This explains the link between people's nature as captured by Machiavelli, and the leadership style suggested by him. It is from his belief and school of thought that some of the most popular Machiavelli quotes on change come from.
What does Machiavelli say about human nature?
What does Machiavelli think about humanity and human nature? It is important to answer this question since it determines how he viewed leadership and the best way it was to be approached.
The recorded views on Machiavelli's thoughts regarding politics, religion, and morality are essentially based on his view of human nature. He believed that “Men are ungrateful, fickle, deceitful, cowardly and avaricious.” Thus concludes that a ruler or a monarch should, thus, aim rather to be feared than to be loved if it is to survive.
Does Machiavelli believe in free will?
Free will was one of the themes Machiavelli wrote about in his books. He often made use the words “prowess” and “fortune” to explain two distinct ways in which a prince can come to power. He attempted to compromise between free will and determinism through his argument that stated how fortune controls half of human actions and leaves the other half to free will.
Having understood a few components of the philosopher's perspective on human nature and leadership, the following are some of Machiavelli famous quotes about life, and human nature that you could learn from. They include:
- Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experiences that you really are.
- The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must, therefore, be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. This means that one has to adopt different natures to survive. Once you recognize where your weakness lies, you can work around it and ensure that you cover all your tracks and eliminate any loopholes.
That which you cannot do naturally, find ways of compensating in other means.
- There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.
Everyone should know that you prefer the truth to sugar-coated flattery.
- The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.
Never fear that life seems to be taking a different shift, it may just be that things are getting clearer with the new changes.
Don't be afraid to let things go, everything becomes clear when some of the chaff in your life goes.
- People should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge, but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do. If you need to injure someone, do it in such a way that you do not have to fear their vengeance.
Don't try to be lukewarm about a decision you make. Pick an extreme side and stick with it if you don't want to appear as a weakling. Sometimes doing this is the only way to ensure success when dealing with people who can take advantage of you.
- All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it's impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.
You should understand that all actions are risky. You need to make the right moves to avoid mistakes that will not be worth it. Do not fear taking risks as long as they are useful and reasonably calculated risks.
- Because there are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless.
Learn to categorize people according to their intelligence. This will make it easy for you to make sound decisions depending on whom you are dealing with.
- Men in general judge more by the sense of sight than by the sense of touch, because everyone can see but few can test by feeling. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few know what you really are; and those few do not dare take a stand against the general opinion.
Don't worry so much about how people judge you, everyone will have their own opinion.
- Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
Fear will make people respect you if you have to choose, then stick with it.
- And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
If you can be loved then well and good, if it is impossible then let people fear you.
- It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.
Be careful when working on new plans, it is one of the most difficult things.
- Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.
Men can easily be deceived if only you focus on issues that touch on their immediate needs.
Inspiring Michaevalli quotes
If you know of any quotes by Machiavelli then you know that they are strongly based on his belief about human nature. Even so, there are numerous of these sayings that will inspire you to be your best by playing your cards right. They include:
- Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.
If your wits can help you win a certain battle, then consider applying them and not forcing your way through things.
- Never was anything great achieved without danger.
Every great fete requires confidence for the path guarantees no ease or safety
- The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.
Every wise man learns from his mistakes but foolish people repeat the same mistake every time.
- It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free.
Be careful about helping people that are not keen on freeing themselves. Someone needs to want freedom for them to strive to get it.
The Prince quotes
The prince Machiavelli quotes are probably the most famous and common quotes associated with the ancient philosopher. These quotes capture his ideas about leadership and the approach that guarantees ultimate power for a ruler. Every leader that wants to stand out because of exceptional leadership skills should consider applying some of the lessons in these quotes.
You need to read one Machiavelli The Prince quote to appreciate the philosopher's train of thought. The Prince, made him stand out as an authority and influence on matters of leadership and politics. In case you have been wondering about the best Machiavelli quotes on power, the following collection of Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince quotes will get you started.
- A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.
What this means is that when the need calls for it, a good leader will always find a way to compromise no matter what promise he made earlier.
- He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command. For one to become an excellent leader, he or she must learn how to capture the attention and respect of those he intends to lead.
A good leader has command over his subjects.
- Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society.
The leadership of any society can either build or be detrimental to the well-being of the people. This would be a great lesson for both leaders and subjects.
- A prince is also esteemed when he is a true friend and a true enemy.
Great leaders know how to balance between friendship and enmity. They know where to draw the line when it comes to both aspects.
- The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
Your friends, or the company you surround yourself even as a leader determines how successful you can truly become. They can either build you up or be the reason for your downfall.
- It is not titles that honor men but men that honor titles.
Do not be fooled by prestigious titles. Work on creating a following that respect and honor you.
- It is much safer to be feared than loved because love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.
As a leader, you may have to choose between love and fear to survive. When it comes down to this, you may be forced to settle for fear as it never fails.
- War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him the leisure to contrive and furnishes as ability to execute military plans.
A good leader learns both war and peace because you never know when either will be needed. It is better to be prepared.
The above Machiavelli quotes will leave you inspired, challenged and thinking differently about leadership and politics. The philosopher may have had a strange train of thought, but he managed to influence the modern political scene with his ideas.