Why do political philosophers continue to study Machiavelli's ideas in The Prince?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to think that political philosophers continue to study the ideas that Machiavelli puts forth in The Prince because politics is a force that is still not understood.  If one were to construct a list of really successful political leaders, the list would be a short one.  Politics is a science, art, reality that is not really understood.  In this light, answers are yearned and sought.  I think that it is for this reason that Machiavelli's work is studied and poured over.  Along these lines, Machiavelli hits on another element of politics that has not been fully understood in that political perception is just as, if not more, important than reality.  Political leaders struggle to make sense of such a notion, in terms of how to master perception and not be enslaved by it.  Machiavelli's work details how the modern political leader must control and make perception work for them.  To become enslaved by it is perceived weakness and reduces their effectiveness.  It is here where I think that his work is analyzed and studied over.  In order to better understand realities that are still not fully understood becomes one of the lasting legacies of The Prince and might represent why the work is still assessed and debated.

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The Prince

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