Re: Vinge in strange company

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 14:18:14 -0600 wrote:
> Four of these authors are, unsurprisingly, science fiction writers.
> What's Machiavelli, the 16th century political philosopher, doing there?

Not my fault, but I like Machiavelli. At least he's a clear thinker most of the time. His advice with respect to flattery is a particularly good example of practicality untouched by moral extremes: {When anyone can tell the truth about you, you lose their respect; but when nobody can tell the truth, you can't get any advice: Therefore, get just a few advisers who can tell the truth about you but continue to punish anyone else.} This is not advice I intend to follow, but it clearly admits the existence of the problem and proposes a practical solution. I respect that.

"Nor let him ever believe that a state can always make safe choices; on the contrary, let him think that he must make only doubtful ones; because this is in the order of things, that one never tries to avoid one inconvenience without incurring another; but prudence consists of knowing how to recognize the kinds of inconveniences, and to take the least sad for good."