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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes

Niccolò Machiavelli
(3 May 1469 - 21 Jun 1527)

Italian statesman and writer who wrote a pragmatic theory of government in The Prince (1532) which included a number of maxims of practical statecraft. His political philosophy shocked his contemporaries

Science Quotes by Niccolò Machiavelli (4 quotes)

For of men it may in general be affirmed that they are thankless, fickle, false, studious to avoid danger, greedy of gain, devoted to you while you are able to confer benefits upon them …; but in the hour of need they forsake you.
— Niccolò Machiavelli
In The Prince (1882), 111, as translated from the Italian by N.H.Thomson. Another translation gives: “Speaking generally, men are ungrateful, fickle, hypocritical, fearful of danger, and covetous of gain,” in Forbes Book of Quotations: 10,000 Thoughts on the Business of Life (2016).
Science quotes on:  |  Avoid (116)  |  Benefit (114)  |  Confer (11)  |  Covetous (2)  |  Danger (116)  |  Devoted (59)  |  False (100)  |  Fearful (7)  |  Forsake (4)  |  Gain (145)  |  General (511)  |  Greed (14)  |  Hour (186)  |  Need (290)  |  Psychology (154)  |  Studious (5)

Men are more apt to be mistaken in their generalizations than in their particular observations.
— Niccolò Machiavelli
Attributed (?). Widely seen, without citation. Webmaster has not yet found a satisfactory primary source, but finds the quote used as an epigraph as early as C. E. Rhoad, The Problem Method of Teaching: Operator’s Manual (1950), 43. A University of Nebraska Publication. Notably, this quote does not seem to appear in any 19th century quote collection volumes. If you know a primary source, contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Generalization (57)  |  Mistake (170)  |  More (2559)  |  Observation (560)  |  Particular (76)

Men are of three different capacities; one understands intuitively, another only understands so far as it is explained; and a third understands neither of himself nor by explanation; the first is excellent, the second commendable, and the third altogether useless.
— Niccolò Machiavelli
Collected, without citation, in Day's Collacon: an Encyclopaedia of Prose Quotations (1884), 87.
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…it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.
— Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince (1532). W. K. Marriott (translator) and Rob McMahon (editor), The Prince (2008), 71.
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Quotes by others about Niccolò Machiavelli (1)

Power politics existed before Machiavelli was ever heard of; it will exist long after his name is only a faint memory. What he did, like Harvey, was to recognize its existence and subject it to scientific study.
The Prince and the Discourses by Niccolς Machiavelli, with an Introduction by Max Lerner (1950), xliii.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Sophie Germain
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William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
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Euclid
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Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
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Bible
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Louis Pasteur
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- 70 -
Samuel Morse
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Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
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Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
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Karl Popper
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Avicenna
James Watson
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- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
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Nikola Tesla
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Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
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Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
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- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
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Richard Feynman
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Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
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- 10 -
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Isaac Newton



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