The ideal leader's rise above character in the thought of Machiavelli and Maimonides

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One of the most original points of the political thought of Machiavelli (1469-1527) is, accordingto many scholars, the lack of character of the ideal leader. Major philosophers before Machiavellibelieved that one of the most important qualities for the ideal leader to have is a character thatconsistently pushes him to do good and to refrain from evil. In contrast to this opinion, Machia- velli argued that the ideal leader must be able to overcome regular moral standards and to act ineach situation according to the specific circumstances of the particular situation. The aim of thisarticle is to demonstrate that Maimonides (1138-1204) held the same position as Machiavelliregarding the ideal leader's character.In the first two parts of this article I summarize the positions of these two philosophers onthe ideal leader's character. In the third part I emphasize the different opinions of the two philos- ophers on the goals of political life on the one hand, and their similar understanding of the politi- cal world on the other hand. In the final part of the article I deal with the question of a possibleinfluence of Maimonides on Machiavelli.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-308
Number of pages21
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Jewish philosophy
  • Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
  • Political science -- Philosophy
  • Maimonides, Moses, 1135-1204
  • Leadership -- Philosophy


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