Themain Features Of The Philosophical Soul: Plato Vs. Machiavelli Critical Thinking

Type of paper: Critical Thinking

Topic: Leadership, Leader, Soul, Machiavelli, Philosophy, Plato, Population, Success

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2021/01/09

The Main Features of the Philosophical Soul: Plato vs. Machiavelli

The concept of the soul and the characteristics of a ruler differ from the early time philosophers. The view of Plato into the aspect of the soul differs from how Machiavelli views it and how they both expect a leader to act and handle different situations. As such, these differences continue to attract different scholars who seek to understand the ideal character of a leader or ruler. In this case, the writer explains why it is better to have the form of leadership advocated by Machiavelli. In this perspective, Plato highlights three main traits that a soul should have, and these traits guide an individual in their leadership and decision-making styles. However, only one among these traits brings successful leadership while Machiavelli offers a variety of approaches and traits of a leader, which will present successful leadership.
Plato holds the view that if one thing undergoes opposite situations and the same thing remains unchanged, then it does not exist in the singular form. In this perspective, as every individual has one soul, then Plato understood that it was impossible for individuals to desire something deeply yet at the same time, they were averse to the same thing. One would never try to commit a crime but still be averse to the crime (Barney, 2012). The argument was that the soul was attracted to one direction towards which it maintained loyalty. Plato asserted that it was impossible for the soul to be in different states, a true, and actual opposite state at the same time. These facts and argument presented the key traits as argued by Plato.
First, Plato considered the issue of logics thus indicated the first trait as being logical. The aspect of logic was derived from the fact that a soul, which upholds and loves the truth seeks to learn from the truth. In this aspect, Plato is convinced that the soul is dominated by the logical element with accordance to Athenian temperament. With this aspect, an individual can discern the real issues from the apparent issues, and the leader will be in a position to judge what is falsely represented and what is true. These distinctions are made through the trait of logic. The logical element enables an individual to make wise decisions according to the principles of love and goodness, and this trait makes an individual rational in the right manner(Barney, 2012). From Plato’s perspective, the logical part can be the smallest component of the soul, and it is compared with the society, which has very few good individuals. However, although it makes up the minority or the smallest part of the Republic and the soul; the logical part should be allowed to rule as it comprises of good intentions from a leader.
Secondly, Plato held that a soul is spirited thus it may be angered or be tempered. In this case, this trait dictates the mood of an individual or the soul. The high spirit may be in the aspect of temper or joy and peace. The spirited part is aligned with the logical part of the soul, and this makes it possible for an individual to resist the desires, which are appetitive. The combination of these traits protects the soul from manifesting greed while encouraging good actions(Barney, 2012). However, any soul that is separated or that the spirited part ignores the logical part is aligned with the appetitive desires. In this individual, a leader will be manifesting and demanding the pleasures of his or her body. The argument in the spirited aspect is that the soul is a system, which works together for the achievement of human good. A leader who uses their soul and allows it to guide them will achieve success in guiding other individuals to the right destination.
The third component is the appetitive aspect, which is also part of the soul. However, this part may be viewed as weak or easily aroused. For example, this part of the soul enables individuals to experience love, hunger, as well as thirst. All of these are general desires, which do not abide by the logical part of the soul(Barney, 2012). According to Plato, this part is a-logical meaning that it directs an individual towards the opposite direction from the logical part. This part of the soul is also involved with sexual pleasure and at times greedy desires. Furthermore, Plato indicates that this part of the soul is associated with the love of making money, and this is quite associated with the Egyptians(Barney, 2012). The appetitive part should be restricted from leading the other parts of the soul and should only be subject to the leadership of the spirited and logical part. Additionally, the model of leadership employed by a leader largely depends on the part of their soul that they allow to guide their actions and responses to the situations around them.
According to the specific part of the soul that guides an individual, the leadership approach may be successful or unsuccessful. According to Plato, the Republic requires a leader who does not succumb to the forces from another part of the soul other than the logical. Plato also argues that each part of the soul represents a specific society. Some societies are logical thus enjoy success as they follow goodness and love without being lured vices such as greed and lust. These societies enjoy gentle rule, and they love learning(Barney, 2012). While the spirited aspect, which could be easily, guides other societies tempered or angered according to the conditions that prevail. Finally, some are guided by the desires of their flesh thus are disorderly.
Machiavelli looks into the leader as an all-round person who should have specific characteristics in order to rule successfully over a population. In this case, these attributes may be developed during the course of leadership thus strengthening the capability to lead individuals. According to Machiavelli, a leader must be war related, which means that they must understand the concept of war, which will be important for them in pursuing their expansion process (Machiavelli, & Marriott, 2008). In this case, war is the pursuit of more resources and expansion of the territory. However, the leader should not only be active in expansion but also in the protection of the acquired resources as well as the lawful protection of the stability of his territory. In this case, Machiavelli sees the leader as one who devises tactics to overcome the opponents and maintain a heritage over time thus bringing victory for his or her population.
The leader should also be noble. Nobility allows a ruler to be kind-hearted in order for his population to fear and love him. The combination of love and fear is something that a leader must master. While being kind-hearted, the ruler should not allow his population to overstep their boundary as he may lose the control and authority over them. The aspect of being noble means that the ruler should be approachable and listen to the cry of his people as well as serve them. However, this kindness and nobility should not be represented as weakness, which means his tactic must involve leadership(Machiavelli, & Marriott, 2008). Machiavelli also argues that the leader must understand his surroundings. Through the understanding of his or her surrounding, one can see the issues that are arising. The leader is also in a position to distinguish between the friends and enemies who are around him. The most significant part of this leadership approach is that the leader can understand the advantage and disadvantages of the situations around him thus the right decision can be made following his judgment.
Machiavelli asserts that a leader should be of good fortune. In this case, he should attract good luck wherever he goes to ensures that he transfers the good fortunes to the population. The issue of leadership does not only benefit one individual but also benefits the populations that are under the leader. In this case, Machiavelli calls for a leader of good fortune who is also kind hearted so that he can transfer the good fortune kindly to the rest of the population without favor or fear of any party(Machiavelli, & Marriott, 2008). Good fortune also involves wisdom and success in war. Otherwise, Machiavelli indicates that a leader who lacks good fortune can hardly satisfy his followers.
A leader should have overall wisdom. In this case, the wisdom aspect ranges from knowing about war to the seasons of the land to direct the followers on when to plant or till the land. The wisdom that Machiavelli speaks about is deeper than what one would view as modern day wisdom. He indicates that the leader should know how to interact with the people around him to make them feel appreciated. This includes giving clear guidelines and clarifications where necessary (Roecklein, 2013). For example, a leader should be in a position to explain the proposed policies and plans to ensure that the citizens are equipped with the governance undertakings. Furthermore, one should have ability to study his or her followers and understand their behavior (Machiavelli, & Marriott, 2008). Wisdom also refers to being observant and understanding the different signs that an individual receives from their environment. Without this attribute, a leader will need a team of individuals who will interpret events and seasons for them thus will not be in actual leadership as all these issues can be misinterpreted.
Furthermore, a leader should avoid hatred and despise. It is impossible for a leader to lead a nation that hates him. In addition, the leader cannot be fair over a population, which he hates. In this context, hatred must not exist in a leader. He must see his population or followers as his family and as a group of individuals who are happy to see him prosper. Furthermore, the population must reciprocate, pray, and bless their leader as good fortunes to him translate to good fortunes to the population. Although the leader should view the followers in good light, he must also keep his faith in other at the lowest levels. Machiavelli holds the notion that although many individuals admire the leader; many more aspire to hold his position thus would do anything in order to see him fall. In this situation, many individuals who are around the leader will try to earn his trust then later betray him(Machiavelli, & Marriott, 2008). Machiavelli notes that, trust is very good as it allows individuals to work together. However, trust can be broken due to greed, which is expressed by other individuals who are close to a leader. He adds that a leader should be brave and show great strength to his population. The greatest aspect that the leader can attain from the population is their trust. In this perspective, a leader only gains trust from the followers is he shows them his strength and bravery. These aspects are derived from active participation in leadership. From this idea, Machiavelli suggests that a leader should take part in the war and enjoy the victory among other soldiers. During the time of mourning, the leader should help the other soldiers to heal and mourn the fallen heroes.


Machiavelli and Plato differ in their view about a leader as they both see different aspects that make a leader strong and admirable by the population around him. However, Plato bases his consideration on the soul, which does not cover issues such as strength and wisdom, which are key elements of leadership. A leader will have much more functions than dealing with himself and desires of his soul. On the other hand, Machiavelli understands that the scope of leadership is wide and requires individuals to have different traits in order to be successful and to control other individuals (Roecklein, 2013). For this reason, Plato’s traits of the soul are not as forthcoming as the ideas presented by Machiavelli, which makes the Machiavellian approach stronger and more attractive. The differences in opinion between both philosophers are evident in their approaches and their apparent understanding on the concept of leadership. Leadership does not only come from the person who conducts the act of leadership but also comes from the population under which the process of leadership is executed. In this accord, Machiavelli understands the dimensions of leadership in a better approach than Plato thus making him a better alternative in the concept of leadership. In this consideration, the writer had to consider their understanding of the term leadership and the personal traits of leadership that an individual should have as a leader.


Barney, R. (2012). Plato and the divided self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Machiavelli, N., & Marriott, W. (2008).The Prince.Waiheke Island: Floating Press.
Roecklein, R. J. (2013). Machiavelli and epicureanism: An investigation into the origins of early modern political thought. Lanham: Lexington Books.

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Themain Features Of The Philosophical Soul: Plato Vs. Machiavelli Critical Thinking. Free Essay Examples - Published Jan 09, 2021. Accessed July 14, 2024.

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