I've been thinking a lot about about Machiavelli. I am divided about whether to include him in the main part of the ThinkingCats™ site because some of his ideas are frankly, repulsive. To be 'machiavellian' is synonymous with being conniving and ruthless in getting what you want. The interesting thing about Machiavelli is that his ideas were theoretical - he wrote them in the book that has become known as 'The Prince' as instruction for ruling and wielding power in an era of jostling between small states and principalities - with dynasties in what is now known as Italy and France (including families like the infamous Borgias and the Medicis of Venice). He wrote it to curry favour from 'Lozeno The Magnificent' while he was under house arrest having been accused of a seditious act. In a way it was a kind of job application - though it wasn't published until five years after his death - and Lorenzo never actually got round to reading it. It was banned by the papacy - as were all of Nicollo Machiavelli's works - including his poems - but The Prince found its way to Britain and was widely read. Hitler, Stalin and Tony Blair all read it and its unblinking instructions on how to gain and manipulate power are seen as guide for soldiers, politicians and corporate climbers alike.
It's hard to separate ideas from the consequences they have. I'm interested in the life and ideas of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple. Some would say he was Machiavellian in his approach to business - and he certainly was ruthless when it came to getting what he wanted - though the expression 'The ends justifiy the means.' is attributed to Machiavelli it doesn't actually appear in The Prince - though the idea is a theme of the book. If Jobs wasn't so steely in his resolve would the world have benefited from the contributions his corporation have made to society (I am writing this on a Mac and I make my paintings on an iPad).
So - I've added a sketch of Machiavelli and am considering his inclusion - probably without the floating orb.
(I also want to include thinkers whose Ideas I personally disagree with as well as those I do hold to be 'true' - because agreeing isn't thinking).
This documentary about Machiavelli is worth setting some time aside for if you are interested in a snapshot of of his life and the context of his contribution to contemporary thought.