Presentation on theme: "M ACHIAVELLI ’ S T HE P RINCE XVI: Concerning Liberality & Meanness."— Presentation transcript:
M ACHIAVELLI ’ S T HE P RINCE XVI: Concerning Liberality & Meanness
L IBERALITY & M EANNESS In Chapter XVI: Concerning Liberality and Meanness, Machiavelli addresses the dangers of exercising liberality for its own sake, and states that it will not only cost you all your belongings, but gain you a reputation for being miserly. He then claims that a prince should hold little account of a reputation for meanness. Questions 23 & 23 Machiavelli’s use of “liberality” translates as “generosity.” Machiavelli’s use of “meanness” translates as “greedy” or “selfish.”
T HE D ANGER OF T RYING TO A PPEAR T OO L IBERAL “It is good to have a reputation for being generous. Nevertheless, generosity exercised in a way that does not bring you the reputation for being generous, injures you. If you exercise it modestly as it should be exercised, it may go unnoticed, and you will not avoid the reproach of being a miser.” Question 24 If you are going to be a generous giver, make sure that it doesn’t go unnoticed. Too much generosity is going to hurt you. People always want more and once you run out of money to give them what they want, you will be reproached as a miser.
T HE D ANGER OF T RYING TO A PPEAR T OO L IBERAL “With his generosity, having offended many and rewarded few, he is vulnerable to the very first sign of trouble and … wishing to withdraw from his reputation, he runs at once into the reproach of being miserly.” Question 24 Those your generosity doesn’t benefit will become angry at you for spending their money on what they may not have wanted. The many who are offended will protest that you have the wrong priorities or that you should have done “this” before “that”, and you will have a reputation for being miserly.
A R EPUTATION FOR M EANNESS “A wise prince ought not to fear the reputation of being miserly, for in time he will come to be seen as more generous than if he was generous from the start. People will see that, with his economy his revenues are enough, that he can defend himself against all attacks, and he is able to engage in enterprises without burdening his people…” Question 25 People will respect the you for watching over your money instead of being a lavish spender. You will have a better reputation for keeping their taxes low than giving generously and wasting their money. As long as you don’t burden them with extra taxes over time they will see your meanness as generosity.
W HAT A P RINCE C AN BE L IBERAL W ITH “And of that which is neither yours nor your subjects’ you can be a ready giver because it does not take away you reputation if you squander that of others, but adds to it; it is only squandering your own that injures you.” Question 27 A prince can be liberal with the money of others because it doesn’t have a negative impact on his or his peoples’ money. It is wiser to spend the money of your enemies opposed to that of your neighbors’.
A R EPUTATION FOR M EANNESS “We have not seen great things done in our time except by those who have been considered mean; the rest have failed… A prince, therefore… ought to hold of little account a reputation for being mean, for it is one of those vices which will enable him to govern.” Question 25 Machiavelli’s conclusion is that generosity is self-defeating. Don’t try to pursue a reputation for it. The more you spend, the more you will need to tax, and the more you tax, the more you will be hated.