Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.

~ Niccolò Machiavelli


I love language. Is Machiavelli suggesting less total violence, or more total deception? Or does it suggest that any amount of violence and deception, (including even, more violence than deception,) is fine, so long as you consider deception as your preferred method? Wait. What is the purpose of the word “attempt”? Is it okay to succeed by force, regardless of the possibility of succeeding using deception? Wait, no it’s worse than that even: “Never attempt to win … can be won …” — Is it okay if my aim is simply to sow chaos, without actually attempting to win via either method? Or, what if I attempt to win through some other means, (via kindness or merit or nimble maneuvering or bribery perhaps)?

But I do so love language.

Because despite all those perfectly logical nits that can be picked, it’s a brilliant sentence—even translated into English—packing insight and wisdom which we all grasp instantly and intuitively.