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The Prince notes

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Political Science
POLI 1041
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The Prince by Machiavelli • Origins of political philosophy go back to the Greeks (Plato and Aristotle) o Machiavelli goes against this and presents something entirely new  Liberal democracy has its origins set in this book • Machiavelli  politicians are after their own, appeals to the common view of politics o Realist  we are the children of Machiavelli • “Machiavellian” = ruthless, unabashedly self-interested, cunning, ends justify means, power, immoral o If you remain moral, you’re going to lose • The Prince is dedicated to Lorenzo de Medici (Florence) o Also dedicated to any leader, anyone willing to claim the title o Also dedicated to Machiavelli himself • The difference between a Prince and Tyrant o Prince = concerned with the state and is less evil o Tyrant = concerned with himself/ evil • According to Machiavelli, Prince is a tyrant o No disdain in showing selfishness of a tyrant Dedicatory Letter • Book is Machiavelli’s prized possession and gift o Says it is customary • “I” is used a lot • Reads like a suck up o Also proud and vain • Why are you telling a prince how to rule? • Experiences = modern, Readings = ancient o Claims to be mastered in reading • First to speak of “modern” world • Reading of ancient books is insufficient unless coupled with a modern experience and vice versa • Book is meant to be a practical guide how to gain, secure, and hold onto power • Machiavelli is not in a position of authority • There is a relationship between knowledge and power • Valley and Mountain image  question of perspective o To know the nature of the Prince, you have to have the perspective of citizens (in valley) o To know the nature of the citizens, you have to have the perspective of the prince (on mountain) • Machiavelli has knowledge of BOTH spectrum o Not only of the people but also of a prince • Claiming he’s superior to Medici while giving him the gift of his book • Very sarcastic Chapter 1 • Conspicuously leaves out the difference between good and bad regimes o Just cares about how to acquire power  emphasis on acquisitions  Economics  art of learning how to acquire most efficiently • Place moral limitations on how to get stuff? o Morality only limits you • Machiavelli is a teacher of evil o Book was banned for centuries • Dominions are acquired with the arms of others or one’s own arms Chapter 2 • Beginnings of society Chapter 3 • YOU want to rule, but you can’t take over by yourself o Have to gather together people to take up arms with you to overthrow the prince • Once in power, you have the problem of people who don’t like change in their country, which you just took over  conquered a large number of people o Those who helped you gain power now want something in return  they are strong and have weapons • Friendship is bad  you can’t trust anyone o “One’s own arms”  People are like you, just weaker • Louis XII used help of certain Italian provinces to take over Milan o Failed at first but then succeeded  After conquering, Italian provinces try to take land from Louis for themselves • People claim they like change o People are fickle and can’t rely on their call for change because they are never satisfied  You have to be rough in politics • Why Louis succeed the second time? o Better able to offend/kill and more willing to do so  Too moral during his first attempt • You must not be moral • Cannot rule by love • Examples of Romans (ancient) and Louis XII (modern) o Romans are praiseworthy because they didn’t hold back  Exhibited an ancient kind of virtue • Always willing to make war  priorities are right o Introduction of Christianity and morality entered the modern world  Considered the greatest scruple  overreliance on Christianity • Live life of necessity rather than moralities • Do anything to gain power as long as you do it well, focus on necessity of needs/happiness o Only blame failures but praise those who succeed • Cyrus = leader of Persians 6 century BC • Theseus = founder of Athenians 1200 BC • Romulus = founder of Rome • Praised enemies  used foresight, always willing to make war • Praise those who succeed and blame those who fail o Natural desire to acquire  doesn’t wish to put limits on desire  Success is important to Machiavelli • Teacher/Philosopher of conquest o Other philosophers had never taught conquest because after the truth, material things aren’t important/moral • Machiavelli  get rid of moral crutch • Faith is a crutch (Christian faith) o Probably not a believer  deemphasizes religion and miracles and revelation • Focus of attention is on success o Appeal to others, both human beings and God because God and humans are unreliable  “One’s own arms” • Arms=weapons • Only rely on what you have, not others o Don’t pray for what you want because God is not going to help • Rome succeeded because they lacked Christian morals • When Christianity entered the world, men were made wimps o Can’t kill anymore Chapter 4 • Holding onto conquests in Italy • France and Turks o Turks = difficult to conquer but easy to hold o France = easy to conquer but hard to hold  Turks have 1 Lords, France has many barons who are self-interested • Italy resembles both o French  separate city states (fiefdoms) o Turks  1 Lord (pope) who they have loyalty to Chapter 5 • What to do with cities that were once independent? o Must destroy them or else their remembrances of former liberty are never forgotten  will turn and destroy ruler in turn  Genocide • Have to kill people to get what you want or else you lose Chapter 6 • New principalities and how you can acquire o Through fortune or good luck • New modes and orders • Lists heroes as examples to learn from o Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, Theseus • Moses = Jewish prophet (BC) o Succeeded in leading country through God  Goes against “One’s own arms” thought process • Blasphemy? • Moses is a prophet and is being compared to barbaric leaders o Moses as conqueror o God is a teacher o Cyrus, Theseus, Romulus didn’t need God  Can dispense of God o Moses = political leader, founder of new mode and order who’s God can be seen as teacher and can be dispensed of  Offends entire religious tradition • You need virtue o Redefines what virtue is compared to ancient philosophers o Men mentioned above (including Moses) gained power through virtue o Nothing is more difficult to handle than putting yourself at the head of a new mode and order  Machiavelli is attempting to put himself at the head • Machiavelli is presenting himself as a new teacher/challenger to God o The Prince is to take the place of the Bible  Look at prophets as political readers • Moses, David • Prophets who were not military leaders = failures o Jesus was not an armed prophet  “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword” • Was Jesus a failure? No and Machiavelli doesn’t forget that • Reminding us that Jesus was an unarmed prophet o Some men who aren’t leaders of armies do attain a kingdom  Machiavelli sees himself as an unarmed prophet • He did succeed  spirit of modern liberty • Talking about natures (have to be Prince to know nature of the people) o Believes he is a Prince o Intent to kill Chapter 7 • Cesare Borgia  story of a failure o Son of Pope Alexander VI o Man of great capacities o Modern example  son of pope • Emphasizes others’ arms and fortune • Some men of great virtue know how to use fortune when it’s placed in their laps o Most people don’t know how to use fortune, though • Cesare  fortune = pope as fater • Example concerns itself with being forceful and killing o Example of murder  “Best advice” Machiavelli could give to a Prince • Example of “good government” o Situation Cesare confronts = people don’t like him and entering Romagna with a state of disorder  Has to impose order and good government • Remirro de Orca = cruel and ready man o Cesaro puts him in charge with no scruples  People don’t like Remirro but he does create order in a harse way  engenders hatred o Cesaro takes back over as “nice ruler” but has trouble because animousity felt towards Remirro is transferred over to Cesare  Killed Remirro and displayed his body (cut in ½) in a piazza at Cesena • Wood and bloody knife next to body  leaves people satisfied and stupefied o Satisfied because the thug is dead o Stupefied because their ruler did that to the thug • Encapsulated “good government” o Involved murder leaving satisfaction and stupefication • Bloody knife represents violence , is a scary thing to see, and shows executive authority o “executive branch” comes from Machiavelli  Execution of laws, not killing though • Wood could represent the wood of the cross Jesus was crucified on Chapter 8 • Brings up crimes and people who come into power through crimes • Agatholces and Liveratto da Fermo o Agathocles was a successful while da Fermo was a failure  Agathocles’ Virtues = savage, cruelty, inhumanity, and infinite crimes • Can’t celebrate this but Machiavelli is celebrating it and setting him up as a model of behavior • Cruelty can be good depending on how you use it o Agothocles used it well • Virtue  moral/theoretical perfection (according to ancients) vs. Virtu  savage cruelty and inhumanity (according to modern world) • How does Machiavelli redefine virtue? o Tool for acquiring that doesn’t take into consideration morality • Da Ferma was killed by Borgia, whom he had too much faith in o Even Cesare Borgia = too much faith • “His teacher in virtue and wickedness” was Vitellozzo • If one can succeed through wickedness, what are good/bad morals? o Won’t shed a tear ever for wickedness, you can become most powerful man in the world • Don’t have faith (this is why de Fermo was condemned) o Agothocles didn’t have faith and did what had to be done o Sign that you’re not using your own arms Chapter 9 • First discussion in favor of fundamental principle of democracy • No theoretical arguments about democracy o People ruled in democracy o Majority of people are stupid and only a few can rule o For medievals and ancients, government should lead to a good life  aristocracy • In every city there are 2 components o Rulers and the commoners (vulgar) • Better to rise by the commoners o More willing than nobles to accept your rulership o Nobility want to oppress o People want not to be oppressed, not necessarily greatness
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