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Niccolò Machiavelli 1469-1527

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In which context did Machiavelli live?
Italy was weak, divided and in a permanent state of war: 5 city-states
(Florence, Milan, Naples, Venice, the Papal state) and three major outside powers:
France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire
When was Machiavelli born/when did he die, and what happened in 1498, 1512?

What did he say in his death bed?
* 1469: Born in the city-state of Florence :


* 1498: Head of the Florentine Chancery

* 1512: 'dismissed, deprived, and totally removed'
Machiavelli to Sant' Andrea in Percussina, and writes The Prince (1513, 1532)
and Discourses on Livy (1517, 1531)

* 1527: death
'I love my city more than my own soul (...) My loyalty and honesty are proven
by my poverty.'
Despite being a believer in religion, Machiavelli did what?
uncoupled politics and religion

--> Politics and religion: politics as an autonomous realm of human action; demystification of politics
one of democratic most important notions is?
"separation of powers"
Machiavelli advocates what?
state more important than prince (prince has to strengthen the state... it is better for a prince to be feared than to be loved - because his position will be stronger, which is needed to strengthen the state)
Ethik der Gesinnung vs. Ethik der Verantwortung?
Ethik der Gesinnung (your norms are based on preconceived convictions)

Ethik der Verantwortung (your norms are based on consequences of your behaviour)

--> Machiavelli primarily interested in "Ethik der Verantwortung" ... e.g. not interested in means but in the ends

--> Don't ask "why am I doing this" (Gesinnung) but "What will be the consequences of me doing this?" (Verantwortung)
mirror books refer to what?
= writen for new rulers, enabled them to look at them
selves (for Giuliano de'Medici), 'employment application' ('I am using
up my money, and I cannot remain as I am a long time without
becoming despised through poverty') or 'constitutional tract'
The Prince, written in 1513, was said to be inspired by whom?
inspired by the devil

(e.g. Some measure of cruelty is necessary to maintain order; Your demise is my win)
Why is Machiavelli so important? (3 main reasons)
1. Reputation and influence are beyond comparison
--> the Prince
--> 200 books
--> list of prohibited books
--> mirror book (Medici)

2. Bridges pre-modern and modern political thinking
--> separation of state & religion/ethics
--> fortune only half arbitrary, the other half we control
--> separates politics from religion and ethics
--> state is more important than prince
--> Ethik der Gesinnung/Verantwortung

3. Links political thinking with political practice
--> Politics and morality: good government not necessarily virtuous, or in favor of the strong & effective
--> draws from worst politicians from time as well
The Prince is based on what?
* based on practical political experience and the classics (Renaissance: renewed influence of pre-Christianity Greece and Rome)

* on sober reasoning and empirical fact, not on noble or utopian ideas (tradition of Realism)
According to Machiavelli the prince should be rather _____ than _______ in order to ________
'...(the new prince has to make) himself feared in such a way that, if he does not gain love, he escapes hatred.'

'... (is) it better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is that one would like to be both (...), but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.' _(xvii)

'... he must not flinch for being blamed for vices which are necessary for safeguarding the state.' (xv)

--> • they need to have an iron hand if it is in the interest of the state
Authoritarianism or 'Republicanism'
(A) ruler who is not held in check by laws is likely to make the same mistakes as an unruly multitude.'

'Stability and liberty is a function of law and institutions introducing a new political order, a 'modern state', a 'vision for Italy'
What characteristics define Machiavelli?
Pragmatic, sly, ironic, covert meaning, love for friendship and dialogue, conversationist, empathic
Saw success as luck? no... only halfway right?
individuals fixed in their ways and unable to adapt as circumstances around them change, thus success is purely a matter of chance
• post res perditas means?
("after all was lost")

--> M describing the situation after pro-Medici government overruled and exiled Soderini as well as confined Ms power
truth strays far from the expectations of imagined ideals. What is meant by that?
• We should turn to the practical rather than the ideological understanding of state → how princes rule, not how they ought to rule
What three types of intellect can men possess?
There are three types of intellect that men can possess: the ability to understand things independently, the ability to appreciate another person's ability to understand things, and the ability to do neither.

The first kind is best, the second acceptable, and the third useless.

o Second kind at least allows prince to judge whether minister is good
Machiavelli's The Prince in one sentence
A prince must know how to exercise fear without hatred, to act prudently, deceptive and parsimoniously with a pragmatic pro-attitude, liberated from the ideologies of the insatiable public eye, for in the long run it is clear that rule by law and force make vice seem virtuous.
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