GE Cluster 21A: History of Modern Thought - Lecture 2 Notes (Machiavelli)

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University of California - Los Angeles
General Education Clusters
Peter Stacey

Machiavellian virtu A Revolution in Political Morality -Radical populace republican -Subversive political commentary -The Free State (Republic) -Peoples champion, a theorist of tyranny -Attacks traditional conception of virtu and condemned by Church for such a contradiction The Machiavellian Question: What is the relationship between his two big works? What are we supposed to make of these two varying theories? Should only the Prince cultivated the cardinal virtues in a monarchical society or should the populace as a collective develop these virtues? -We need to use the force of virtue to overcome the capricious nature of lady fortune -In actuality, fortune is not the great force acting, but instead it is God and nature directing the events that unfold and there is a reason behind everything -The ultimate prize is glory Two Crucial Princely Virtues 1) Clementia (clemency, mercy - to become divine) Defining mark of tyrant: cruelty (definitely must avoid during the Renaissance) 2) Liberalitas (liberality generosity - giving freely) To ensure that everyones life gets better Your sins will lead to punishment - as a Prince you need to not have a guilty conscience (answerable to conscience and God) Machiavelli -Born into a humanist culture (humanist education) -Goes to work for Florentine Republic (concerned with how to govern the outlying regions, due to expansion) -Placed on war council (travels abroad, conducts diplomacy with foreign powers, organizes civil militia) -First hand observer of state craft -Medici return (1512), Machiavelli sacked (imprisoned for suspected conspiracy) -Released, but exiled and has to leave city, goes to countryside where he writes The Prince -Formerly titled On Principalities (it is about a type of state) Machiavelli's master concepts: Virtu (virtue): that ability (or set of abilities) which helps you acquire and 'maintain the state' Not a guide to personal success, all about the state Lo stato (the state): a civil body over which sovereign power is exercised -Principalities are unfree bodies of people versus republics where are used to being free -Virtue is walking the straight path, unswerving dedication to the state Machiavelli on Fortune -Eliminates god, introduces this Fortuna which covers for happenstance -Really does believe that there is a thing out there which the co
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