Deception

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

~ Niccolò Machiavelli

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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.

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Prudence

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.

~ Niccolò Machiavelli

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Death does not frighten me

When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed on the food that alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reasons for their actions; and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them.

~ Niccolò Machiavelli

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