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Lecture 11

POLS 2900 Lecture 11: Machiavelli

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 2900
Michelle Mawhinney

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Machiavelli: 1469-1527 11/20/15
1. Background
he has political experience as a diplomat (the examples from the book are his own
diff than Aristotle that sees politics in a different realm—moral and ethical values
vs. getting your hands dirty
the political realm has nothing to do with the higher classes
the state doesn’t have much to do with politics
we must begin with the “ought” not what it “is”
politics is fundamentally different and distinct than the state
Plato and Aristotle focus on the good, and the “end” in which the state must serve
in terms of living an ethical life
the external world is dynamic and is prone to constant change
take the chaos and change and institutionalize it (so that they balance each other
political rule that requires the use of force/cruelty/arms
a. His break from tradition (Christian/ medieval and classical)
i. theme of war and militarism
ii. he deters from Christianity
iii. educated as a humanist
iv. discourses: resurgence of republican behavior
1. roman republic
v. virtue and citizenship are different than the ancient world
1. Greek and roman empire, the reformation begins during
Machiavelli’s time
b. Renaissance (to be born again)/ Italy14th Century Florence
i. revival of learning based on the classics, influenced him
ii. in the political context: a lot of conflict, western European politics
effected the roman and catholic church
iii. there wasn’t an emergence of nation-states
iv. 15th cen – reminiscent of ancient Greece.
v. tumultuous place
1. system of shifting alliance and occupying states
a. this made Italy vulnerable, militarily
b. however they created a complex foreign policy
c. His life
i. a lot of political violence and where civic loyalty/virtue didn’t
ii. militarily the city states relied on mercenaries (he thought states
should have their own malicious)
iii. states may be archaic
iv. Machiavellian (duplicity, power politics, civic engagement in
power politics)
1. commoners make better allies
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