Aristotle & Machiavelli: Generosity And Liberality
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In book four of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he discusses generosity and it’s excesses and deficiencies. He goes into detail and explains the mean of what a generous man is. In The Prince, Machiavelli also describes liberality (generosity) with in a principality, and how it should be used, if at all.
Aristotle describes generosity as the “mean” in the sphere of material goods. Generous men are defined as those who are “praised in the matters involving the giving and taking of material goods.” Aristotle characterized a generous man as an individual who gives t o the right people and takes from right people or sources. He also says that individuals who give, are good and noble, therefore, they are shown gratitude and are praised because of their helpfulness. A generous man, he states, is loved for excellence.
Aristotle gives very specific guidelines as to what makes a truly generous man. Not every man is generous just because he gives. His generousity is based on his motives for giving, who he is giving to, and who or what he is acquiring his wealth from. Aristotle says a generous man will, “give in the correct manner because that is noble.” The correct manner, by his perspective, means giving the right amount, to the right person, at the correct time. A truly generous man will give because it pleases him, and does not cause him pain. Just the opposite would be said of a man who not truly generous. This type of person cares more for material than nobility. A generous man would never take from the wrong source or give to the wrong person at the wrong time.
Aristotle also discusses moderation in a generous man’s giving. He will not be careless with his possessions. However, he does say a generous man often does give too much, leaving himself with too little. A generous man would want to acquire wealth so that he would have something to give to others. He characterizes a man who gives too m...
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