Rather than fighting what appears to be human nature, by cooperating with it
philosophy could control it. In short, if philosophy should be revealed to
man not as his moral preceptor but as his collaborator in his fondest
dreams, the philosopher could supplant priest, politician and poet in the
affection of the multitude.
This is what Machiavelli meant when he blamed the old writers for building
imaginary principalities and republics that neglect how men actually live
in favor of how they ought to live. He counsels writers to accommodate themselves
to the dominant passions instead of
exhorting men to practice virtues that they rarely perfect,
whose goodness for the individuals who practice them is questionable,
and the preachings of which are boring to everyone concerned.
The Closing of the American Mind