How Machiavelli May Have Been Issuing a Warning About Tyranny Rather Than Embracing Its Philosophy

In an astute animated Ted Ed video essay written by Pazit Cahlon and Alex Gendler, narrator Addison Anderson explains the origins of the word “Machiavellian” means and the history of the verbose Italian diplomat behind the name. The essay also offers its general definition as being self-interested, without empathy or moral regard and a desire for personal gain, but also brings up the fact that this may not have been Machiavelli’s philosophy but rather his observation of the realpolitik.

Machiavelli may have written a manual for tyrannical rulers, but by sharing it, he also revealed the cards to those who would be ruled. …Through his brutal and shocking honesty, Machiavelli sought to shatter popular delusions about what power really entails. And as he wrote to a friend shortly before his death, he hoped that people would “learn the way to Hell in order to flee from it.”