pol200 lecture 1
machiavelli was hated and found his teachings rather shocking. though one could
argue he is only revealing the secrets of power - which are shocking. to him,
politics was the art of power. he rejected classical and medieval theories of nature
- and theories about the cosmos. he was an atheist. there was a disconnect
between the elaborate ideas of politics than the actual outcome of real power
politics. he presented the truth of politics was the effectual truth and the
principles that govern political life. he was shocking to his contemporaries simply
because the world is not ordered and thats not where we should get our moral
ethics from..especially not a god.
work is dedicated to Lorenzo (the grandson of Lorenzo the magniﬁcent who ruled
ﬂorence for 33 years..and the Lorenzo in question was made ruler by his uncle
the pope..he was a small time ruler with no worthy achievements of his rule). he
may have wrote it because he was out of work and wanted to ﬂatter the
Lorenzo..but this is hard to believe. arguably there is a mocking tone towards
Lorenzo. then why he do it? could be a gift..the greatest gift - because it is a
pragmatic book that presents useful knowledge. he wants to point out what
actually works via studying the question of what makes for greatness.
interestingly, this implies Lorenzo needs advice on what makes rulers great.
Lorenzo, as mentioned..was nothing like his grandfather and hence not great at
all. thus we can argue that this is the greatest gift..better than the horses and
Machiavelli argues he is a man of a humbleness and you need such a man to
understand rulers..macheivi is the landscape painter..and he will explain the
character of the princes and the lower class. to understand the prince..you need
to understand not only the ruler but of those who are ruled. we are the heirs to
machevi...one of the ﬁrst thinkers who emphasizes the political power of the
people. don't assume that this makes him a democrat...he only asserts that rulers
recognize the power of the people by the rulers. Machiavelli himself understands
both high and low, therefore, we’re meant to perceive that machevlli himself is
claiming to be a ruler - he has the knowledge. he concludes that he wishes
Lorenzo to gain great fortunes and success and most importantly greatness.
he begins with a taxonomy of principalities. what is the concept of organization?
his principle of organization is how these principalities are acquired, or
acquisition. inherited kingdoms are easiest to hold onto for they are naturalized.
foundation is always a bloody act of violence. kingdoms acquired through
inherience acquire it through luck. luck however teaches us nothing. inherited kingdoms are to easy to teach leaders prudence. we do learn something. we learn
that inherited principalities because the extinguish memories of their origins
(often bloody). perhaps the inherited principalities have nice stories to tell.
citizens remember origins and their memories have a lot to do with their
legitimacy of their governments.
acquisition in the form of imperialism. in ch 3