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Few historical figures are as divisive and polarizing as Niccolo Machiavelli . The fact that this Renaissance philosophers works date back 500 years hasn't blunted its impact or controversy one bit. Some view him as the father of modern materialism, inspiring people to do or say anything to achieve personal gain, i.e. the ends justify the means . Indeed, the word Machiavellian - derived from his most famous work, The Prince - has come to mean cunning, deceit, and manipulation. Others, however, see him as the world's first great realist and a positive influence on modern politics and capitalism. Some even think Machiavelli was the first to apply empirical scientific methods to human behavior by making innovative generalizations based on experience, observation, and history.