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Lecture 13

POL200Y1 Lecture 13: Introduction to Machiavelli's The Prince


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL200Y1
Professor
Janice Stein
Lecture
13

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POL200Y1Lecture13Notes
Machiavelli:Shocking,YetFamiliar
● Machiavellishouldnotbeconsideredasaspeakerofevilbutratheramorebenevolentfigure;a
“democratindisguise”
○ Machiavelliwasnodemocratinanyway
■ Herecognizedandtheorizedthenatureofpoliticalpowerinhumansocieties
■ Herecognizestheneedtoacknowledgethenecessityofsecuringthefavourofthepeople
becausetheyproviderulersthegreatestsourceofmilitarypower
■ Hisideasprovidedthefundamentaldevelopmentsofdemocraticpower
● Herejectedcorrelationsbetweenhumannatureandthecosmos;hebelievedin
selfdetermination
● Question:Whatifpietyandotherbenevolentidealsdidnotaddup?
● Machiavelliwasknowledgeableabouttradition;herealizeditwasdishonestaboutpowerand
destructivebecausetheydon’tfunctioninpoliticallife
○ Heasksthisquestion:“Whatisthebetterwaytocreatepeace?
● Heclaimstohave‘unveiledanewcontinent’inpoliticallifethroughhisideasregardingpower,
justasChristopherColumbushadfoundtheNewWorld
● Machiavelli’stimewastheItalianRenaissance(‘Rebirth’),wherethemeaningsofclassical
worksfromGreeceandRomewerereinterpreted
● Hisideologyhasmadesomanysuccessfulchangesthatheandhisteachingsarefamiliar,
particularlyinregardstoclassicalthought
● Machiavellirationalizesacquisitivepassions,suchasgreed
○ Greedisnolongeravice,butratheravirtueinMachiavellianterms
● Machiavellicanbeconsideredrevolutionarybyadvocatingselfdeterminationtorepudiatethe
idealofsocialhierarchy
● Tohispiouscontemporaries,Machiavelliwasconsideredshocking,buttomoderndaycitizens,
heisconsideredacceptablebecausethesepeoplelivetheMachiavellianlifestyle,onewayor
another
DedicatoryEpistle
ThePrince
iswrittenfor‘thosewithoutmuchtime’
● ItwasnotablydedicatedtoLorenzodeMedici
○ HewasthegrandsonofLorenzotheMagnificent,whoruledFlorencefor33years(hencehis
title‘theMagnificent’)
○ Hewasasmalltime,unknownrulerwithnoaccomplishmentstohisname
● MachiavelliintendedthattheworkbededicatedtoLorenzo’sunclePopePiusIII
● ItisspeculatedthattheworkwasmeanttogetMachiavellihiredbytheMedici,with
considerationforthetortureheenduredatthehandsoftheMedici
ThePrince
ispresentedasthegreatestgiftMachiavellicouldoffer
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