3 Paradoxes of Power According to The Philosophy of “The Prince” by Niccolò Machiavelli

Christopher Jacob
6 min readAug 4

Niccolò Machiavelli’s magnum opus, “The Prince,” stands as an influential cornerstone of political philosophy, eliciting both reverence and contention since its inception in 1532. This treatise embarks upon an investigation into the essence of political power and prescribes stratagems for rulers to uphold and fortify their dominion.

Notably, Machiavelli’s philosophical stance in “The Prince” remains a topic of fervent discourse due to its defiance of conventional moral and ethical precepts. In this scholarly exposition, we embark on an intellectual journey to explore the philosophical underpinnings of “The Prince,” unraveling the inherent paradoxes and enduring pertinence that envelop Machiavelli’s cogitations.

1. Amoral Realism in Political Philosophy

Machiavelli’s Amoral Realism of Politics represents a fundamental departure from the prevailing moral frameworks of his time. Central to his philosophy is the insistence on a stark separation between politics and morality. Unlike traditional political thinkers who often advocated for rulers to embody virtuous and ethical conduct, Machiavelli takes a pragmatic and consequentialist approach. He contends that political leaders must prioritize the preservation and expansion of their power above all else, even if it means disregarding conventional ethical principles.

“If an injury has to be done to a man, it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared” (Machiavelli 1532).

In Machiavelli’s view, the pursuit of power and stability in the realm of politics necessitates a willingness to employ any means available, irrespective of their virtuous or ruthless nature. He argues that rulers must be astute in the art of statecraft, capable of adapting their strategies to the exigencies of the political landscape. The emphasis is on practicality and effectiveness rather than adherence to abstract moral ideals. This notion is encapsulated by the well-known aphorism that “the end justifies the means,” suggesting that the ultimate outcomes of political actions are what truly matter, rendering ethical considerations subsidiary in the face of achieving desirable results.

Christopher Jacob

Come as you are. Doused in Mud, Soaked in Bleach. Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, and Business. Two-time International Award-Winning Writer and Editor.