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POL 161 Machiavelli Notes

by: Hailey True

POL 161 Machiavelli Notes POL 161.001

Hailey True

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About this Document

These notes contain the background and history, along with chapter 1-8
Introduction to Political Theory
Jakeet Singh
Class Notes
Politics, Political Theory, machiavelli, The Prince, POL 161
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hailey True on Monday March 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POL 161.001 at Illinois State University taught by Jakeet Singh in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 77 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Political Theory in Political Science at Illinois State University.


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Date Created: 03/14/16
Machiavelli­ The Prince  Background and History o Machiavelli is known for political strategy and power plays o Ends justify the means  Suspend the rules of conduct/morality/ethics if ends are achieved  Standard part of moral thinking  Foresee a potential terrible outcome that can be avoided in the  present by some universal act that may be less bad than the original outcome.  Can be done in the interest of self­gain, but can also be done in the  interest of the people o Machiavelli is a different story of morality and politics than Plato  Morality and politics can never fuse or be harmonized  Always in a conflict with one another  Politics cannot operate properly if consumed by morality  To be a good political leader you cannot and must not be moral  When you are able to do both then do so, but never hold yourself  to that. o 1469­1527  Rise in Christianity is major difference between Plato’s time and  Machiavelli’s time  Causes difference in virtues and definition of morality  Plato’s morality allowed for violence and lying o One virtue is expressed on the battle field; military moral  Courage o Machiavelli dealing with values of Christianity which is  difficult to contend with in the political realm  Italy  Republic o Rule of the people; people govern themselves  Complicated political map, political diverse o Difficult Kingdoms, rules, politics  Machiavelli is a sort of administrator  He becomes a diplomat   Travels  Learns much about politics  First hand observer of complex political settings  Republic of Florence falls  Medici family takes over o Feel there is resistance to their rule o Feel that Machiavelli is plotting against them  He is captured and tortured  Released and goes to countryside to exile  Desperate to get back into political game, wants to  win back the Medici family  Wants to become an advisor for the family  The Prince is dedicated to the Medici family  Plea on his behalf and to give him a job to  make use of his knowledge  Since this is a text to gain their favor, this is a  partial view of Machiavelli in this text  Does not write in the view of a Republic (he  believes in he republic), but how to rule in  principalities  No evidence Medici family read the letter;  he lived out his life in exile.  Key themes (chapters 1­8) o Republics vs. Principalities  Explains text in specific to Principalities o Different kinds of Principalities  State (Principalities) with different advice based on kind of principality  Hereditary/New o Take over territory is in your bloodline to rule o Best kind of case, easiest o People in territory know you and ancestors, people are used to being ruled by you  Keep things the same as ancestors  Mixed o You are already a prince with certain territories/states, but  you acquire territory that was not in bloodline to rule  Not new ruler, just new to a particular territory o Things to consider:  Any remnants of old ruler/leadership  Hers  Get rid of them  Do you share customs, culture, religion, language?  If yes, more easily be accepted ruler by  people, will have to do less.  If you do not share culture  Establish rule by going there and living  there, have people see you, make them feel  important  Be in awe of army  Associate with it, join  Observe lay of the land by going there, deal  with threats and problems easier  If you cannot live there, set up colonies, transplant  people loyal to you into area you are conquering.   Be eyes/ears  Former principalities or Republic  o If principality then king is in good shape, makes  governance easier  People are used to being rules by a central figure,  not used to governing themselves. o If a former republic, then it is very difficult  They will never forget their liberty and time they  ruled themselves, a free people  Will always think of themselves as free  people  Either let them run themselves or decimate the  society and start over from scratch.  Principalities acquired through luck or fortune or through virtu o This is the great battle going forward  Philosophical battle in politics for Machiavelli  Politics is always a back and forth between fortune  and virtu  Virtu not traditional sense as in Plato  New meaning to Machiavelli o Distinctively political skill/ability  Cunning, boldness  Sometimes people gain power and territories by  great virtu, but a rare case  Not realistic to have immense natural virtu o Medici gained by great fortune/luck  Through a series of circumstances  Challenge is to keep power when it comes to you  through luck  Skill now   has to kick in to keep it  A good prince can adapt to changing fortune o Can see it coming, outsmart and  overpowering changing  circumstances o Comparison between Borgia and Agathocles  Borgia is great exemplar   Machiavelli observed as a diplomat   Acquired state due to his father but lost it despite doing all the  right things that a skillful (virtuoso) man ought to do.  Borgia, due to skill, laid a great foundation o But always battling with changing  fortune/luck/circumstances  What Borgia did well in: (pg. 26) o Destroy one’s enemies o Secure allies o Win wars o Make oneself loved and feared o Make oneself soldiers loyal and respectful o Wipe out those who can/would want to hurt one o Innovate o Replace old institutions with new practices o Harsh and generous o Etc.  Look at story of Borgia and Remiro d’Orco o d’Orco brought in by Borgia to bring order to a chaotic  society because he had a reputation for being brutal and  ruthless  brought peace, order, unity  but would have brought resentment to the people  He served his purpose, then Borgia had him killed  publically.  Was becoming resented, hated by the people  Borgia established order using d’Orco, Borgia has  him killed and has him take the blame for heavy  handed actors, disassociates himself with those  actions, has d’Orco killed, achieves love and fear by his people  Sight caused fear, but they are happy that a  cruel person is gone  Not responsible for cruelty of d’Orco o Agathocles  Achieve power through wicked actions  Question is: does Agathocles really that different  than Borgia?  Machiavelli both criticizes and praises Agathocles  Ruthless act: killed all the elites and senators  Came from poverty  Rose through ranks and become military  leader with immerse bravery and strength  Killed elites and become in control of power of the city  Seems as if Agathocles did what  Machiavelli wants o Seized and maintained power o But he is only eligible for power but  not glory  Fear is not enough to rule,  does not achieve glory  A lasting reputation  Well­used cruelty vs. Cruelty abused o Well­used: be as cruel; as necessary,  but do it all at once and go all out  Abused: Cruelty done in small, dispersed  acts o The people will always be in fear,  and not trust the king.


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