Leadership and the Unmasking of Authenticity
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Leadership and the Unmasking of Authenticity

The Philosophy of Self-Knowledge and Deception

Edited by Brent E. Cusher and Mark A. Menaldo

Leadership and the Unmasking of Authenticity presents a philosophic treatment of the core concept of authentic leadership theory, with a view toward illuminating how authors in the history of philosophy have understood authenticity as an ideal for humanity. Such an approach requires a broader view of the historical origins of authenticity and the examination of related ideas such as self-knowledge and deception. The chapters of this book illuminate the conflict between the contemporary understanding of authenticity and traditional philosophy by revisiting the ideas of thinkers who express self-knowledge as a cornerstone of their philosophy.
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Chapter 5: Leadership and the virtue of deception in Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince

Mark A. Menaldo


This chapter discusses how Machiavelli’s The Prince prescribes deception as a matter of necessity in leadership and political life. The author shows how Machiavelli’s ideas present a radical break from the classical and Christian notions of morality and human soul. The classical conception of virtue is made new by Machiavelli’s idea of virtù (virtue) supported by a modern understanding of human nature, which is at once unlimited in its acquisitive desires and bound by necessity. By stripping people down to their true nature, Machiavelli unburdens leaders from their conscience and moral obligations. Through a reversal of conventional moral pieties, Machiavelli endorses the practice of deception in political life. The prince reaches the apex of leadership when he finally understands Machiavelli’s teaching of the beast and man. Represented by the famous image of the fox, the prince learns the art of deception by creating and managing the perceptions of followers.

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