Surprisingly, there is still relatively little work on this fundamental Machiavellian concept. What exactly is the effectual truth? One way to address this question is to begin with Chapter 15 of The Prince , where Machiavelli introduces the term. Two things seem to characterize the effectual truth in Chapter Whatever it is, the effectual truth does not seem to begin with images of things.
The implication seems to be that other more utopian? Another way to address this question is to begin with the Dedicatory Letter to The Prince. These sketchers place themselves at high and low vantage points or perspectives in order to see as princes and peoples do, respectively. The truth begins in ordinary apprehension e.
But precisely because perspective is partial, it is subject to error and indeed manipulation e. Milan is not a wholly new principality as such but instead is new only to Francesco Sforza P 1. Unlike Machiavelli himself, those who damn the tumults of Rome do not see that these disorders actually lead to Roman liberty D 1. It is worth noting that perspectives do not always differ. Some scholars believe that differing causes cannot help but modify effects; in this case, admiration itself would be stained and colored by either love or fear and would be experienced differently as a result.
And Machiavelli says that what makes a prince contemptible is to be held variable, light, effeminate, pusillanimous, or irresolute P What matters in politics is how we appear to others—how we are held tenuto by others. But how we appear depends upon what we do and where we place ourselves in order to do it. A wise prince for Machiavelli is not someone who is content to investigate causes—including superior causes P 11 , first causes P 14 and D 1.
Rather, it is someone who produces effects. And there are no effects considered abstractly. Some commentators believe that effects are only effects if they are seen or displayed. They thus see the effectual truth as proto-phenomenological. Others take a stronger line of interpretation and believe that effects are only effects if they produce actual changes in the world of human affairs. Touching rather than seeing might then be the better metaphor for the effectual truth see P Machiavelli is most famous as a political philosopher. Although he studied classical texts deeply, Machiavelli appears to depart somewhat from the tradition of political philosophy, a departure that in many ways captures the essence of his political position.
At least at first glance, it appears that Machiavelli does not believe that the polity is caused by an imposition of form onto matter. Given that Machiavelli talks of both form and matter e. For Aristotle, politics is similar to metaphysics in that form makes the city what it is. The difference between a monarchy and a republic is a difference in form.
This is not simply a question of institutional arrangement; it is also a question of self-interpretation. Aristotelian political form is something like a lens through which the people understand themselves. Firstly, it matters whether monarchs or republicans rule, as the citizens of such polities will almost certainly understand themselves differently in light of who rules them. Justice is thus the underlying basis of all claims to rule, meaning that, at least in principle, differing views can be brought into proximity to each other.
Concord, or at least the potential for it, is both the basis and the aim of the city. With respect to the first implication, Machiavelli occasionally refers to the six Aristotelian political forms e. He even raises the possibility of a mixed regime P 3; D 2. But usually he speaks only of two forms, the principality and the republic P 1. The lines between these two forms are heavily blurred; the Roman republic is a model for wise princes P 3 , and the people can be considered a prince D 1.
Machiavelli even at times refers to a prince of a republic D 2.
Finally, he says that virtuous princes can introduce any form that they like, with the implication being that form does not constitute the fundamental reality of the polity P 6. On this account, political form for Machiavelli is not fundamentally causal; it is at best epiphenomenal and perhaps even nominal.
Some scholars focus on possible origins of this idea e. Still others focus on the fact that the humors arise only in cities and thus do not seem to exist simply by nature. Machiavelli says that the city or state is always minimally composed of the humors of the people and the great P 9 and 19; D 1. The polity is constituted, then, not by a top-down imposition of form but by a bottom-up clash of the humors. And as the humors clash, they generate various political effects P 9 —these are sometimes good e.
Furthermore, Machiavelli does attribute certain qualities to those who live in republics—greater hatred, greater desire for revenge, and restlessness born from the memory of their previous liberty—which might be absent in those who live in principalities P ; D 1. Such passages appear to bring him in closer proximity to the Aristotelian account than first glance might indicate.
The humors are also related to the second implication mentioned above. Machiavelli distinguishes the humors not by wealth or population size but rather by desire.
These desires are inimical to each other in that they cannot be simultaneously satisfied: Discord, rather than concord, is thus the basis for the state. Consequently, Machiavelli says that a prince must choose to found himself on one or the other of these humors. Firstly, it is unclear what desire characterizes the humor of the soldiers, a third humor that occurs, if not always, at least in certain circumstances. Finally, it should be noted that recent work has questioned whether the humors are as distinct as previously believed; whether an individual or group can move between them; and whether they exist on something like a spectrum or continuum.
For example, it may be the case that a materially secure people would cease to worry about being oppressed and might even begin to desire to oppress others in the manner of the great ; or that an armed people would effectively act as soldiers such that a prince would have to worry about their contempt rather than their hatred.
NiccolÃÂ² Machiavelli (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Some scholars claim that Machiavelli is the last ancient political philosopher because he understands the merciless exposure of political life. Either position is compatible with a republican reading of Machiavelli. As in The Prince , Machiavelli attributes qualities to republican peoples that might be absent in peoples accustomed to living under a prince P ; D 1.
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He also distinguishes between the humors of the great and the people D 1. However, in the Discourses he explores more carefully the possibility that the clash between them can be favorable e. He associates both war and expansion with republics and with republican unity; conversely, he associates peace and idleness with republican disunity D 2. He notes the flexibility of republics D 3. He ponders the political utility of public executions and—as recent work has emphasized—courts or public trials D 3. He even considers the possibility of a perpetual republic compare D 3.
Like many other authors in the republican tradition, he frequently ponders the problem of corruption e. Although what follows are stylized and compressed glosses of complicated interpretations, they may serve as profitable beginning points for a reader interested in pursuing the issue further. It holds that Machiavelli is something of a neo-Roman republican. What matters the most, politically speaking, are robust institutions and deliberative participation in public life e.
Freedom is the effect of good institutions. Corruption is a moral failing and more specifically a failing of reason. This interpretation focuses upon the stability of public life. It holds that Machiavelli is something of a radical or revolutionary democrat whose ideas, if comparable to anything classical, are more akin to Greek thought than to Roman. What matters the most, politically speaking, is non-domination. Freedom is a cause of good institutions; freedom is not obedience to any rule but rather the continuous practice of resistance to oppression that undergirds all rules. Corruption is associated with the desire to dominate others.
This interpretation focuses upon the instability—and even the deliberate destabilization—of political life. A possible weakness is that it seems to understand law in a denuded sense, that is, as merely a device to prevent the great from harming the people; and that it seems to overlook the chaos that might result from factional strife e. It holds that Machiavelli advocates for something like a constitutional monarchy. What matters the most, politically speaking, is stability of public life and especially acquisitions, coupled with the recognition that such a life is always under assault from those who are dissatisfied.
Freedom is both a cause and effect of good institutions. Corruption is associated with a decline though not a moral decline in previously civilized human beings. This interpretation focuses both on the stability and instability of political life e. Some scholars go so far as to claim that it is the highest good for Machiavelli. Possessions, titles, family achievements, and land could all contribute to dignitas. Plebeians, who did not possess as much wealth or family heritage as patricians, could still attain prominence in the Roman Republic by acquiring glory in speeches e.
The destabilization of the Roman Republic was in part due to individuals who short-circuited this system, that is, who achieved glory outside the conventional political pathway. A notable example is Scipio Africanus. At the beginning of his ascendancy, Scipio had never held any political positions and was not even eligible for them. However, by his mid-twenties he had conducted major military reforms.
This unprecedented achievement gained Scipio much glory—at least in the Senate, as Machiavelli notes though not with Fabius Maximus; P 17 and D 3. Indeed, Scipio gained so much glory that he catapulted past his peers in terms of renown, regardless of his lack of political accomplishments. Consequently, his imitation was incentivized, which partly led to the rise of the warlords—such as Pompey and Julius Caesar—and the eventual end of the Republic.
One useful example of the concatenation of all three characteristics is Agathocles the Sicilian. Indeed, there is little, if anything, that can be attributed to fortune in his ascent. It seems clear for all of these reasons that Agathocles is virtuous on the Machiavellian account. Although such acts are compatible with Machiavellian virtue and might even comprise it , they cannot be called virtuous according to the standards of conventional morality.
In general, force and strength easily acquire reputation rather than the other way around D 1. But Machiavelli concludes that Agathocles paid so little heed to public opinion that his virtue was not enough. Glory for Machiavelli thus depends upon how you are seen and upon what people say about you. Many of the successful and presumably imitable figures in both The Prince and the Discourses share the quality of being cruel, for example.
This is at least partly why explorations of deceit and dissimulation take on increasing prominence as both works progress e. One must learn to imitate not only the force of the lion but also the fraud of the fox P 7, 18, and 19; D 2. Whether veneration venerazione and reverence riverenzia are ultimately higher concepts than glory remains an important question, and recent work has taken it up. Those interested in this question may find it helpful to begin with the following passages: P 6, 7, 11, 17, 19, 23, and 26; D 1. His brother Totto was a priest.
His father appeared to be a devout believer and belonged to a flagellant confraternity called the Company of Piety. When Machiavelli was eleven, he joined the youth branch of this company, and he moved into the adult branch in From to , Machiavelli and Totto paid money to the friars of Santa Croce in order to commemorate the death of their father and to fulfill a bequest from their great-uncle.
He did write an Exhortation to Penitence though scholars disagree as to his sincerity; compare P And he did accept the last rites upon his deathbed in the company of his wife and some friends. But evidence in his correspondence—for instance, in letters from close friends such as Francesco Vettori and Francesco Guicciardini—suggests that Machiavelli did not take pains to appear publicly religious. Still others claim that he was religious but not in the Christian sense.
Species of sects tend to be distinguished by their adversarial character, such as Catholic versus heretical FH 1. They also generally, if not exclusively, seem to concern matters of theological controversy. It is not clear whether and to what extent a religion differs from a sect for Machiavelli. Such interpretations implore human beings to think more of enduring their beatings than of avenging them D 2. He seems to allow for the possibility that not all interpretations are false; for example, he says that Francis and Dominic rescue Christianity from elimination, presumably because they return it to an interpretation that focuses upon poverty and the life of Christ D 3.
And one of the things that Machiavelli may have admired in Savonarola is how to interpret Christianity in a way that is muscular and manly rather than weak and effeminate compare P 6 and 12; D 1. Some scholars have emphasized the various places where Machiavelli associates Christianity with the use of dissimulation e. Other scholars believe that Machiavelli adheres to an Averroeist which is to say Farabian understanding of the public utility of religion.
On such an understanding, religion is necessary and salutary for public morality. The philosopher should therefore take care not to disclose his own lack of belief or at least should attack only impoverished interpretations of religion rather than religion as such. Is this a fair characterization? At least since Montaigne and more recently with philosophers such as Judith Skhlar and Richard Rorty , this vice has held a special philosophical status.
Indeed, contemporary moral issues such as animal ethics, bullying, shaming, and so forth are such contentious issues largely because liberal societies have come to condemn cruelty so severely. Such recommendations are common throughout his works. The fact that seeming vices can be used well and that seeming virtues can be used poorly suggests that there is an instrumentality to Machiavellian ethics that goes beyond the traditional account of the virtues.
One could find many places in his writings that support this point e. But what exactly is this instrumentality? Partly, it seems to come from human nature. Human life is thus restless motion D 1. It is thus useful as a regulative ideal, and is perhaps even true, that we should see others as bad D 1. In order to survive in such a world, goodness is not enough D 3.
Instead, we must learn how not to be good P 15 and 19 or even how to enter into evil P 18; compare D 1. Thus, virtues and vices serve something outside themselves; they are not purely good or bad. Recognizing this limitation of both virtue and vice is eminently useful. Another way to put this point is in terms of imitation. While we should often imitate those greater than us P 6 , we should also learn how to imitate those lesser than us. For example, we should imitate animals in order to fight as they do, since human modes of combat, such as law, are often not enough—especially when dealing with those who do not respect laws P More specifically, we should imitate the lion and the fox.
The lion symbolizes force, perhaps to the point of cruelty; the fox symbolizes fraud, perhaps to the point of lying about the deepest things, such as religion P The mention of the fox brings us to a second profitable point of entry into Machiavellian ethics, namely deception. Throughout his writings, Machiavelli regularly advocates lying e. He even at one point suggests that it is useful to simulate craziness D 3. Because cruelty and deception play such important roles in his ethics, it is not unusual for related issues—such as murder and betrayal—to rear their heads with regularity.
If Machiavelli possessed a sense of moral squeamishness, it is not something that one easily detects in his works. If this hypothesis is true, then his moral position would be much more complicated than it appears to be. Does Machiavelli ultimately ask us to rise above considerations of utility? Does he, of all people, ask us to rise above what we have come to see as Machiavellianism?
It was begun in and probably completed by Machiavelli also says that Filippo Casavecchia, a longtime friend, has already seen a rough draft of the text. These manuscripts, some of which we do possess, do not bear the title of The Prince. Which title did Machiavelli intend: That the book has two purported titles—and that they do not translate exactly into one another—remains an enduring and intriguing puzzle.
The structure of The Prince does not settle the issue, as the book begins with chapters that explicitly treat principalities, but eventually proceeds to chapters that explicitly treat princes. At some point, for reasons not entirely clear, Machiavelli changed his mind and dedicated to the volume to Lorenzo. We do not know whether Giuliano or Lorenzo ever read the work. There is an old story, perhaps apocryphal, that Lorenzo preferred a pack of hunting dogs to the gift of The Prince and that Machiavelli consequently swore revenge against the Medici.
At any rate, the question of the precise audience of The Prince remains a key one. Some interpreters have even suggested that Machiavelli writes to more than one audience simultaneously. The question of authorial voice is also important. Machiavelli himself appears as a character in The Prince twice P 3 and 7 and sometimes speaks in the first person e. However, it is not obvious how to interpret these instances, with some recent scholars going so far as to say that Machiavelli operates with the least sincerity precisely when speaking in his own voice.
This issue is exacerbated by the Dedicatory Letter, in which Machiavelli sets forth perhaps the foundational image of the book. The suggestion seems to be that Machiavelli throughout the text variously speaks to one or the other of these vantage points and perhaps even variously speaks from one or the other of these vantage points. At the very least, the image implies that we should be wary of taking his claims in a straightforward manner.
In the first chapter, Machiavelli appears to give an outline of the subject matter of The Prince. But this subject matter appears to be exhausted as early as Chapter 7. What, then, to make of the rest of the book? One possibility is that The Prince is not a polished work; some scholars have suggested that it was composed in haste and that consequently it might not be completely coherent. An alternative hypothesis is that Machiavelli has some literary or philosophical reason to break from the structure of the outline, keeping with his general trajectory of departing from what is customary. Whatever interpretation one holds to, the subject matter of the book seems to be arranged into roughly four parts: Chapters treat principalities with the possible exception of Chapter 5 ; Chapters treat the art of war; Chapters treat princes; and Chapters treat what we may call the art of princes.
In Chapter 12, Machiavelli says that he has previously treated the acquisition and maintenance of principalities and says that the remaining task is to discourse generally on offensive and defensive matters. Similarly, in Chapter 15, Machiavelli says that what remains is to see how a prince should act with respect to subjects and friends, implying minimally that what has come previously is a treatment of enemies. Almost from its composition, The Prince has been notorious for its seeming recommendations of cruelty; its seeming prioritization of autocracy or at least centralized power over more republican or democratic forms; its seeming lionization of figures such as Cesare Borgia and Septimius Severus; its seeming endorsements of deception and faith-breaking; and so forth.
Indeed, it remains perhaps the most notorious work in the history of political philosophy. But the meaning of these manipulations, and indeed of these appearances, remains a scholarly question. Interpreters of the caliber of Rousseau and Spinoza have believed The Prince to bear a republican teaching at its core.
Some scholars have gone so far as to see it as an utterly satirical or ironic work. Others have insisted that the book is even more dangerous than it first appears. There is reason to suspect that Machiavelli had begun writing the Discourses as early as ; for instance, there seems to be a reference in The Prince to another, lengthier work on republics P 2. And since the Discourses references events from as late as , it seems to have still been a work in progress by that point and perhaps even later. Evidence suggests that manuscript copies were circulating by and perhaps earlier. It bears no heading and begins with a paragraph that our other manuscripts do not have.
It is typically retained in English translations. As with The Prince , there is a bit of mystery surrounding the title of the Discourses. The book appeared first in Rome and then a few weeks later in Florence, with the two publishers Blado and Giunta, respectively seemingly working with independent manuscripts. Machiavelli refers simply to Discorsi in the Dedicatory Letter to the work, however, and it is not clear whether he intended the title to specifically pick out the first ten books by name.
Today, the title is usually given as the Discourses on Livy or the Discourses for short. This is a curious coincidence and one that is presumably intentional. But what is the intent? Scholars are divided on this issue. A second, related curiosity is that the manuscript as we now have it divides the chapters into three parts or books. However, the third part does not have a preface as the first two do. As with the dedicatory letter to The Prince , there is also a bit of mystery surrounding the dedicatory letter to the Discourses. It is noteworthy that the Discourses is the only one of the major prose works dedicated to friends; by contrast, The Prince , the Art of War , and the Florentine Histories are all dedicated to potential or actual patrons.
However, it is a strange kind of commentary: At the end of the first chapter D 1. He further distinguishes between things done by private and public counsel. Finally, he claims that the first part or book will treat things done inside the city by public counsel. The first part, then, primarily treats domestic political affairs.
Machiavelli says that the second book concerns how Rome became an empire, that is, it concerns foreign political affairs D 2. If Machiavelli did in fact intend there to be a third part, the suggestion seems to be that it concerns affairs conducted by private counsel in some manner. It is noteworthy that fraud and conspiracy D 2.
At first glance, it is not clear whether the teaching of the Discourses complements that of The Prince or whether it militates against it. Scholars remain divided on this issue. Some insist upon the coherence of the books, either in terms of a more nefarious teaching typically associated with The Prince ; or in terms of a more consent-based, republican teaching typically associated with the Discourses. The Discourses nevertheless remains one of the most important works in modern republican theory.
It had an enormous effect on republican thinkers such as Rousseau, Montesquieu, Hume, and the American Founders. The Art of War is the only significant prose work published by Machiavelli during his lifetime and his only attempt at writing a dialogue in the humanist tradition. It was probably written in It takes the literary form of a dialogue divided into seven books and preceded by a preface.
The action of the Art of War takes place after dinner and in the deepest and most secret shade AW 1. Bernardo filled the gardens with plants mentioned in classical texts AW 1. Notably, the gardens were the site of at least two conspiracies: The other dedicatee of the Discourses , Zanobi Buondelmonti, is also one of the interlocutors of the Art of War. But perhaps the most important and striking speaker is Fabrizio Colonna.
However, Colonna was also the leader of the Spanish forces that compelled the capitulation of Soderini and that enabled the Medici to regain control of Florence. In the preface to the work, Machiavelli notes the vital importance of the military: And he laments the corruption of modern military orders as well as the modern separation of military and civilian life AW Pref.
Roughly speaking, books 1 and 2 concern issues regarding the treatment of soldiers, such as payment and discipline. Books 3 and 4 concern issues regarding battle, such as tactics and formation. Book 5 concerns issues regarding logistics, such as supply lines and the use of intelligence. Book 6 concerns issues regarding the camp, including a comparison to the way that the Romans organized their camps. Book 7 concerns issues regarding armament, such as fortifications and artillery.
And his only discussion of science in The Prince or the Discourses comes in the context of hunting as an image of war D 3. But the technical nature of its content, if nothing else, has proved to be a resilient obstacle for scholars who attempt to master it, and the book remains the least studied of his major works. It was not his first attempt at penning a history; Machiavelli had already written a two-part verse history of Italy, I Decennali , which covers the years But the Florentine Histories is a greater effort.
It is written in prose and covers the period of time from the decline of the Roman Empire until the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent in Machiavelli presented eight books to Clement and did not write any additional ones. They were not published until Although Giulio had made Machiavelli the official historiographer of Florence, it is far from clear that the Florentine Histories are a straightforward historiographical account.
Books 2, 3, and 4 concern the history of Florence itself from its origins to In Book 1, Machiavelli explores how Italy has become disunited, in no small part due to causes such as Christianity FH 1. The rise of Charlemagne is also a crucial factor FH 1. Machiavelli notes that Christian towns have been left to the protection of lesser princes FH 1.
Scholars have long focused upon how Machiavelli thought Florence was wretched, especially when compared to ancient Rome. But recent work has begun to examine the ways in which Machiavelli thought that Florence was great, as well; and on the overlap between the Histories and the Discourse on Florentine Affairs which was also commissioned by the Medici around Book 2 also examines the ways in which the nobility disintegrates into battles between families e. The rise of Castruccio Castracani, alluded to in Book 1 e.
Machiavelli also narrates the rise of several prominent statesmen: Yet in fact Machiavelli devotes the majority of Books 5 and 6 not to the Medici but rather to the rise of mercenary armies in Italy compare P 12 and D 2. Among the topics that Machiavelli discusses are the famous battle of Anghiari FH 5. Books 7 and 8 principally concern the rise of the Medici—in particular Cosimo; his son, Piero the Gouty; and his son in turn, Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Cosimo also loved classical learning to such an extent that he brought John Argyropoulos and Marsilio Ficino to Florence. Additionally, Cosimo left a strong foundation for his descendants FH 7. Piero is highlighted mainly for lacking the foresight and prudence of his father; for fomenting popular resentment; and for being unable to resist the ambition of the great. Lorenzo is noted for his youth F 7.
The Histories end with the death of Lorenzo. The Histories has received renewed attention in recent years, and scholars have increasingly seen it as not merely historical but also philosophical—in other words, as complementary to The Prince and the Discourses. Every single work is not listed; instead, emphasis has been placed upon those that seem to have philosophical resonance.
In the early s, he wrote several reports and speeches. They are notable for their topics and for the way in which they contain precursors to important claims in later works, such as The Prince. Among other things, Machiavelli wrote on how Duke Valentino killed Vitellozzo Vitelli compare P 7 ; on how Florence tried to suppress the factions in Pistoia compare P 17 ; and how to deal with the rebels of Valdichiana.
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The most obvious changes are found in the final part, where Machiavelli attributes to Castruccio many sayings that are in fact almost exclusively drawn from the Lives of Diogenes Laertius. Also around , Machiavelli wrote the Discourse on Florentine Affairs. Recent work has suggested the proximity in content between this work and the Florentine Histories. Also of interest is On the Natures of Florentine Men , which is an autograph manuscript which Machiavelli may have intended as a ninth book of the Florentine Histories. Toward the end of his tenure in the Florentine government, Machiavelli wrote two poems in terza rima called I Decennali.
The first seems to date from and concerns the history of Italy from to It is the only work that Machiavelli published while in office. In goal-directed activities it is the goals that define, and bestow meaning upon, the activities. They are the necessary conditions of action. The will is mobilized in behalf of an activity - that is, there is a disposition to employ means if and only if the goal is consciously intended. Given the will to achieve an end, once it is achieved we regard the activity to have been concluded.
This we take as manifest evidence that the activity was undertaken in regard to the goal. When the goal is achieved there is nothing mysterious about the result, since the process that led to it was wholly conscious. The carpenter, for example, knows that the table is a product of his own activity, and considers there to be no other cause for its existence.
The table, insofar as it is a consciously achieved product, will not be defined as the result offortuna. I call these kinds of results 'purposeful' results, since they depend directly upon human will. However, a teleological activity also produces results that are unrelated to its goal, although they may arise out of the nature of the activity. Thus, when the muscles in a carpenter's arms grow stronger in the course of his work, this may be counted as a result of his activity, but only as a by-product and not as its goal.
Such by-products of teleological activity that are independent of the goal I call ' unintended' results or 'by -products '. Every human activity involves by-products of this S An example in kind is furnished by so-called ' natural' languages - as distinct from scientific or logical languages, which are intentionally created with a specific goal in mind.
N aturallanguages are not natural in the sense of existing from the beginning of time. Rather they arise out of men's need to communicate in order to accomplish an end that is different from communjcation per se; as , for instance, when a group of men must coordinate their actions in a hunt and like activities.
The same may be said of natural disasters. Further, when settlements are established in the vicinity of a volcano, vulcanic eruptions are treated as disasters. However, when such an event occurs at a place remote from human habitation, its human significance is reduced to that of a natural phenomenon which is of concern to no one but a small circle of geologists. For them, a volcanic eruption is far from being a disaster, but is a perfect opportunity for advancing our knowledge about nature. Men tend not to regard such by-products as the result of their own activities, but as the work of transcendent factors.
That phenomena of this kind are called 'natural' as in ' natural' language, ' natural ' disasters, and the like is the consequence of their being thought extrinsic to human intentions. But they are no less human for being called natural , since they owe their existence to goal-directed human activities. However, although these by-products owe their existence to the pursuit of an end, they do not necessarily serve the end, nor need they be in harmony with it. Once by-products come into being, they assume an independent existence of their own. These unanticipated and unintentional results are of tlu'ee kinds in respect to goals: That is to say, they may suit the goal, oppose it, or affect it for neither bener nor worse.
Furthermore, when an end is successfully accomplished , the attendant by-products may be harmful to the subject. On the other hand, a by-product may be advantageous even if the goal has not been achieved. So, a carpenter may ruin the table he is making, but this does not mean that the muscles in his arms have not grown stronger in the course of his work. In explaining how fortuna as a by-product of goal-directed activity may frustrate conscious goals, Machiavelli makes the following observation: Nature bas created men so th at they desire everything, but are unable to attain it; desire being thus always greater than the faculty of acquiring, discontent with what they have and dissatisfaction with themselves result from it.
This causes the changes in their fortunes [my italics]; for as some men desire to have more, whilst others fear to lose what they have, enmities and war are the consequences; and this brings about the ruin of one province and the elevation of another. Although men create their own fortunes, they do so indirectl y and unintentionally. This model of the three kinds of relationship between by-products and goals may be of use in helping us to understand Machiavelli's concept offortuna.
Machiavelli's awareness of the mutual independence of the goal and the by-product is revealed when he says, for example, that there are defeats that result in advantages to the loser and victories that are ruinous; or that fortuna can turn friends into enemies and 38 Machiavelli, Discorsi, Book I, ch.
Since such by-products are not a part of the conscious goal, the subject initially perceives them not as the results of his own activity, but as independent phenomena pertaining to destiny, external nature, accident or chance - in shOlt, as good or bad fortuna. In other words, they appear to him under a guise alien to him , as something transcendent that is not of his own making.
Moreover they are not the consequences of an error of judgment that can be conected merely by becoming aware of them. These by-products are transcendent because they are unintentionally produced and without any regard for the goal. They therefore take on the appearance of being moved by their own force, so that the subj ect tends to perceive them as not pertaining to himself, and is even surprised to learn of their existence.
The same approach to the by-products of man is evident in Aristotle, who observes: Instead of explaining this by-product by means of the activity, he explains the activity by means of the by-product, which has assumed the status of a natural event. Umeflective consciousness, since it is attentive to the goal of teleological activity, does not take these by-products into accou nt. Awareness about the existence of such by-products is attained only upon reflection. Awareness of the goal does not require self-consciousn ess - that is to say, consciousness about all of the results of one's own activity, whether these had been intentional or not.
The goal exists a priori in the consciousness in the form of an idea, scheme or plan. By contrast, the unintended result only exists a posteriori in the consciousness, although not by necessity and only under certain conditions. Such unintended consequences need not be defined in reference to consciousness. They will be recognized by consciousness if they have relevance, whether favourable or unfavourable, to the goal.
Only when fortuna, or the by-product of an activity, is out of kilter with the pl'oper course of human affairs is it taken into account. However, Machiavelli is putting the case of reflective consciousness - as can be verified if we properly interpret the penultimate chapter of Il Principe.
In Chapter 25 of his book Machiavelli compares fortuna to 39 cf. And although they are like this, it is not as if men, when times are quiet, could not provide for them with dikes and dams so that when they rise later, either they go by a canal or their impetus is neither so wanton nor so damaging. However, although fortuna strikes where it is least expected, the true cause of its onslaught is want of virtue. If it had been diked by suitable virtue, like Germany, Spain, and France, either this flood would not have caused the great variations that it has, or it would not have come here.
Theriver's impetuosity standing for the rush of events overtaking Italy does not originate in the liver acting independently of the conduct of human affail's, but is rather the consequence of conditions that have been created by men in the valley. Machiavelli's example therefore does not refer to disasters in nature, but to the economic and social condi tions produced by hum an activity. But these social and economic conditions which were created in the valley were not intentionally created.
What men consciously sought to do was to achieve their goals by taking advantage of the fertility of the Valley. However men remain at the mercy of the river's fury as a by-product of these goal-oriented activities. Otherwise we should have to argue that men settled the valley for the purpose of being threatened by the river. In other words, human affairs are not subject to natural events.
It is the events of nature which in their significance, scope and limiting capacity are a part of human affairs. That is to say, nature is taken to be an object of human action - an aspect of teleological activity. It is made use of by the subj ect in a way that would favour the goals that he wishes to accomplish. Fortuna thus becomes a manipulable datum, the very material of human action. A disaster like that caused by a river overflowing its banks is not natural, but is properly speaking human in three respects.
First, the establishment of human settlements in a river valley is the consequence of a historical rather than a natural process; it is only in this regard that we can assert that a disaster takes place. Second , the disaster brought about by the river depends upon the failure 42 Machiavelli, The Prince, eh.
BALABAN of men to anticipate the unwanted by-products of their teleological activity by taking timely measures against them. Third, as Machiavelli explicitly tells us,fortuna can be avoided altogether and is therefore different from either chance or divine provi- dence.
The undesired by-products of goal-directed actiwity can be wholly averted by either eschewing the activity itself or by taking appropriate preventive measures against them. By asserting that nature is subject to human teleological activity, Machiavelli is by no means discounting the influence of natural events like that of the flooding of the river in the example we have just been considering. He is merely denying that they have a direct influence on human affairs. Indeed the very same natural circum- stance can provoke different and even opposite results in various social and economic situations.
Another example cited by Machiavelli in which fortuna has nothing to do with natural events, but is relevant only to human activity, concell1S the death of Rinaldo degli Albizzi, quoted in PaIt I. Note that Machiavelli does not say that death was a personal misfortune for Rinaldo, but rather 'an instance of fortune's favor '!
That is to say, Machiavelli does not treat Rinaldo's death in respect to its character as a natural event, as one might have ordinaI'i! To summarize, therefore, in Machiavelli's view fortuna owes its existence not to natural but to artificial events, since it is a result of human teleological activity.
On the other hand, it is not artificial in the same sense in which goals that are intentionally achieved are artificial. IV Finally we should consider whether fortuna - as I believe Machiavelli to have conceived of it - is govell1able. It seems to me that the failure of others satisfactorily to resolve this issue is the consequence of their not having first considered fortuna within the context of human activity. It would seem to me, therefore, that the problem of whether Machiavelli conceived offortuna as being govell1able can be dealt with only in the light of the conclusions that derive from the foregoing discussion.
Fortuna is governable once we clearly grasp its specific meaning - by becoming aware that although fortuna is beyond our control, it is nevertheless the outcome of a conscious act even when the outcome is not the intended one and is therefore conditioned by our consciousness. Once we become aWaI'e of the relationships between the goals and the by-products of our deeds, we are in a position to avoid or alter the effects of the by-products. The by-products are extell1al to our will only so long as we remain unaware of their existence.
However consciousness alone is not enough. It is not enough to be aware about such unwanted by-products, there is a need to be ready to act in order to eliminate them. The case of disarmament is an illustration of a larger difference between minimally constitutional systems such as France and fully political communities such as the Roman Republic, namely, the status of the classes within the society. In France, the people are entirely passive and the nobility is largely dependent upon the king, according to Machiavelli's own observations.
By contrast, in a fully developed republic such as Rome's, where the actualization of liberty is paramount, both the people and the nobility take an active and sometimes clashing role in self-government McCormick The liberty of the whole, for Machiavelli, depends upon the liberty of its component parts. In his famous discussion of this subject in the Discourses , he remarks,. Machiavelli knows that he is adopting an unusual perspective here, since customarily the blame for the collapse of the Roman Republic has been assigned to warring factions that eventually ripped it apart.
Machiavelli thinks that other republican models such as those adopted by Sparta or Venice will produce weaker and less successful political systems, ones that are either stagnant or prone to decay when circumstances change. Machiavelli evinces particular confidence in the capacity of the people to contribute to the promotion of communal liberty. This is not an arbitrary expression of personal preference on Machiavelli's part.
He maintains that the people are more concerned about, and more willing to defend, liberty than either princes or nobles Machiavelli , — In turn, when they fear the onset of such oppression, ordinary citizens are more inclined to object and to defend the common liberty. Such an active role for the people, while necessary for the maintenance of vital public liberty, is fundamentally antithetical to the hierarchical structure of subordination-and-rule on which monarchic vivere sicuro rests. The preconditions of vivere libero simply do not favor the security that is the aim of constitutional monarchy.
Machiavelli clearly views speech as the method most appropriate to the resolution of conflict in the republican public sphere; throughout the Discourses , debate is elevated as the best means for the people to determine the wisest course of action and the most qualified leaders. The tradition of classical rhetoric, with which he was evidently familiar, directly associated public speaking with contention: This theme was taken up, in turn, by late medieval Italian practitioners and theorists of rhetoric, who emphasized that the subject matter of the art was lite conflict.
Thus, Machiavelli's insistence upon contention as a prerequisite of liberty also reflects his rhetorical predilections Viroli By contrast, monarchic regimes—even the most secure constitutional monarchies such as France—exclude or limit public discourse, thereby placing themselves at a distinct disadvantage.
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It is far easier to convince a single ruler to undertake a disastrous or ill-conceived course of action than a multitude of people. This connects to the claim in the Discourses that the popular elements within the community form the best safeguard of civic liberty as well as the most reliable source of decision-making about the public good. Machiavelli's praise for the role of the people in securing the republic is supported by his confidence in the generally illuminating effects of public speech upon the citizen body.
Near the beginning of the first Discourse , he notes that some may object to the extensive freedom enjoyed by the Roman people to assemble, to protest, and to veto laws and policies. But he responds that the Romans were able to. The reference to Cicero one of the few in the Discourses confirms that Machiavelli has in mind here a key feature of classical republicanism: Machiavelli returns to this theme and treats it more extensively at the end of the first Discourse.
Citing the formula vox populi, vox dei , Machiavelli insists that. Not only are the people competent to discern the best course of action when orators lay out competing plans, but they are in fact better qualified to make decisions, in Machiavelli's view, than are princes. Likewise, should the people depart from the law-abiding path, they may readily be convinced to restore order: But no one can speak to a wicked prince, and the only remedy is steel…. The contrast Machiavelli draws is stark. The republic governed by words and persuasion—in sum, ruled by public speech—is almost sure to realize the common good of its citizens; and even should it err, recourse is always open to further discourse.
Non-republican regimes, because they exclude or limit discursive practices, ultimately rest upon coercive domination and can only be corrected by violent means. The effect of the Machiavellian dichotomy between the need for flexibility and the inescapable constancy of character is to demonstrate an inherent practical limitation in single-ruler regimes.
For the reader is readily led to the conclusion that, just because human conduct is rooted in a firm and invariant character, the rule of a single man is intrinsically unstable and precarious. Machiavelli illustrates this claim by reference to the evolution of Roman military strategy against Hannibal. After the first flush of the Carthaginian general's victories in Italy, the circumstances of the Roman required a circumspect and cautious leader who would not commit the legions to aggressive military action for which they were not prepared.
Yet when a more offensive stance was demanded to defeat Hannibal, the Roman Republic was able to turn to the leadership of Scipio, whose personal qualities were more fitted to the times. Changing events require flexibility of response, and since it is psychologically implausible for human character to change with the times, the republic offers a viable alternative: The diversity characteristic of civic regimes, which was so reviled by Machiavelli's predecessors, proves to be an abiding advantage of republics over principalities.
This does not mean that Machiavelli's confidence in the capacity of republican government to redress the political shortcomings of human character was unbridled. After all, he gives us no real indication of how republics manage to identify and authorize the leaders whose qualities are suited to the circumstances. It is one thing to observe that such variability has occurred within republics, quite another to demonstrate that this is a necessary or essential feature of the republican system. At best, then, Machiavelli offers us a kind of empirical generalization, the theoretical foundations of which he leaves unexplored.
And the Discourses points out that republics have their own intrinsic limitation in regard to the flexibility of response needed to conquer fortune. If the downfall of principalities is the fixed structure of human character, then the failing of republics is a devotion to the perpetuation of institutional arrangements whose time has passed. Whether it is any more plausible to hold out hope for the creation of more responsive republican institutions than to demand flexibility in the personal qualities of princes is not directly examined by the Discourses.
Machiavelli thus seems to adhere to a genuinely republican position. But how are we to square this with his statements in The Prince? This is contrasted with the lengthy composition process of the Discourses. Yet Machiavelli never repudiated The Prince , and indeed refers to it in the Discourses in a way that suggests he viewed the former as a companion to the latter.
Although there has been much debate about whether Machiavelli was truly a friend of princes and tyrants or of republics, and hence whether we should dismiss one or another facet of his writing as ancillary or peripheral, the questions seems irresolvable. The body of literature debating this question, especially in connection with The Prince and Discourses , has grown to truly staggering proportions. John Pocock , for example, has traced the diffusion of Machiavelli's republican thought throughout the so-called Atlantic world and, specifically, into the ideas that guided the framers of the American constitution.
Paul Rahe argues for a similar set of influences, but with an intellectual substance and significance different than Pocock. For Pocock, Machiavelli's republicanism is of a civic humanist variety whose roots are to be found in classical antiquity; for Rahe, Machiavelli's republicanism is entirely novel and modern. Likewise, cases have been made for Machiavelli's political morality, his conception of the state, his religious views, and many other features of his work as the distinctive basis for the originality of his contribution.
Yet few firm conclusions have emerged within scholarship. This historical ambiguity permits scholars to make equally convincing cases for contradictory claims about his fundamental stance without appearing to commit egregious violence to his doctrines. Rather, salient features of the distinctively Machiavellian approach to politics should be credited to an incongruity between historical circumstance and intellectual possibility.
What makes Machiavelli a troubling yet stimulating thinker is that, in his attempt to draw different conclusions from the commonplace expectations of his audience, he still incorporated important features of precisely the conventions he was challenging. In spite of his repeated assertion of his own originality for instance, Machiavelli , 10, 57—58 , his careful attention to preexisting traditions meant that he was never fully able to escape his intellectual confines.
Morality, Religion, and Politics 5. The State and the Prince: Language and Concepts 6. The Discourses on Livy: Liberty and Conflict 7. Popular Liberty and Popular Speech 8. The Character of Republican Leaders 9. Biography Relatively little is known for certain about Machiavelli's early life in comparison with many important figures of the Italian Renaissance the following section draws on Capponi and Vivanti He was born 3 May in Florence and at a young age became a pupil of a renowned Latin teacher, Paolo da Ronciglione.
Analyzing Power It has been a common view among political philosophers that there exists a special relationship between moral goodness and legitimate authority. Liberty and Conflict While The Prince is doubtless the most widely read of his works, the Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy perhaps most honestly expresses Machiavelli's personal political beliefs and commitments, in particular, his republican sympathies. Although the king cannot give such liberty to the masses, he can provide the security that they crave: As for the rest, for whom it is enough to live securely vivere sicuro , they are easily satisfied by making orders and laws that, along with the power of the king, comprehend everyone's security.
And once a prince does this, and the people see that he never breaks such laws, they will shortly begin to live securely vivere sicuro and contentedly Machiavelli , This all comes from having disarmed his people and having preferred … to enjoy the immediate profit of being able to plunder the people and of avoiding an imaginary rather than a real danger, instead of doing things that would assure them and make their states perpetually happy. This disorder, if it produces some quiet times, is in time the cause of straitened circumstances, damage and irreparable ruin Machiavelli , In his famous discussion of this subject in the Discourses , he remarks, To me those who condemn the tumults between the Nobles and the Plebs seem to be caviling at the very thing that was the primary cause of Rome's retention of liberty….
And they do not realize that in every republic there are two different dispositions, that of the people and that of the great men, and that all legislation favoring liberty is brought about by their dissension Machiavelli , — Popular Liberty and Popular Speech Machiavelli evinces particular confidence in the capacity of the people to contribute to the promotion of communal liberty. But he responds that the Romans were able to maintain liberty and order because of the people's ability to discern the common good when it was shown to them. At times when ordinary Roman citizens wrongly supposed that a law or institution was designed to oppress them, they could be persuaded that their beliefs are mistaken … [through] the remedy of assemblies, in which some man of influence gets up and makes a speech showing them how they are deceiving themselves.