Class 1. Machiavelli.docx

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January 9th
Machiavelli:
- Constantly fighting for advantage, (northern Italy mash-up, not united)
- Small Northern cities in Italy are unable to unite in politics and provide a
long lasting and stable social life, how to get out of this was a key problem for
Machiavelli.
- Born in Florence in 1469, into a middle class family
- Began thinking of alternatives to monarchy, learning about Greek science,
changes to the renaissance. The king was seen as a God on earth, and was to
prepare all his subjects for salvation in the afterlife.
- Politics before the renaissance is about one goal: following God’s law and
saving everyone. It is not about economic growth or competing against other
states and the common good.
- When Machiavelli became a diplomat around 1494 he began to question the
current state and the purpose of government. He began to promote the older
classical vision of politics the purpose of government is not moral or
spiritual, it is about doing good for our common wealth in the here and now.
The highest duty of politics is to help establish a free state.
- A free state: distinction between citizens and subjects (Firstly, free states
have citizens whom participate in some way, particularly the law making of
the state) a subject does not participate in law making, everything is
prescribed for them.
- In the older view (the middle ages view) the ideal person is a meek subject of
the king who does not get involved in public affairs but instead withdraws
from the sinful world and contemplates God. Action is not ideal in the pre-
renaissance view. Machiavelli wanted the active person to be the ideal. (Ex:
The philosopher who cant participate with other people because he does not
want to dirty himself)
- Secondly, civic virtue is the main source of distinction therefore the main
source of distinction is not money. What you contribute to your community is
your level within the community, your status. Thirdly, the citizens are
supposed to be free people, with independence from each other.,
economically independent
- What should be the relationship between all of us when we go out into the
community and work? Machiavelli believed we should be independent, no
one can dominate you and you are not dependent on anyone else for your
success and economic wellbeing.
- In 1513 he is exile don his farm and his political career is finished
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