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Question Description

Lao-Tzu & Machiavelli

Both of these historic authors advise their readers on appropriate means of leadership, while also encouraging certain behaviors.

In Thoughts from the Tao-Te Ching Lao-Tzu advises that “The Master does his job and then stops. He understands that the universe is forever out of control, and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao” (63).

And in dealings with others Tzu says that “If a country is governed with tolerance, the people are comfortable and honest” (66).

And in leadership he says “If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them” (69).

While in Machiavelli’s The Qualities of the Prince he advises that “it is necessary for a prince who wishes to maintain his position to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge or not to use it according to necessity” (78).

And in dealings with others he explains that “since men are a sorry lot and will not keep their promises to you, you likewise need not keep yours to them” (83).

Also saying “but when the populace is hostile and regards him with hatred, he must fear everything and everyone” (86).

Both of these political thinkers have vastly different ideologies, but I wonder if there are any principles that they might agree upon.

Look through both texts and see if you can find any points of intersection. Find quotes from both texts that help to prove that these great advisers do have common ground.

Do they have ideas that do not directly oppose one another?

Are there any ways that their methods of political influence complement each other?

In your conclusion clearly define the sort of commonality you are able to find in these guides to strong leadership.

3 pages

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