Machiavelli study guide - Political Science 171 Ashley...

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Political Science 171 Ashley Thomas Machiavelli Study Guide Additional recommended reading: 1. “The Florentine: The man who taught rulers how to rule,” by Claudia Roth Pierpont on-line at The New Yorker.com 2. Also, you might listen to Quentin Skinner discuss The Prince on itunes at Philosophy Bites. 2. Isaiah Berlin’s essay posted on SPARK. 3. Mondragola posted on SPARK. The Prince 1. In his introduction to Lorenzo, Machiavelli says that one of his “dearest possessions” is his “ knowledge of the deeds of great men.” How does Machiavelli propose to use this knowledge? What kind of knowledge is it? Compare this kind of knowledge to that praised by Plato. He proposes to use this knowledge in order to teach His Magnificence everything he has learned in so many years in which took much difficulty and danger. The knowledge he possesses he learned through long experience of modern affairs and continual study of ancient history which will help His Magnificence with princely government and eventually achieve greatness. This knowledge is different to the knowledge praised by Plato because Plato focuses on how things should be, rather than what they are or what they were. Machiavelli uses his knowledge about ancient history to focus on how to achieve a successful government as it is. Knowledge that he offers is also his claim to originality. Put the reader on alert. Suggests something about his own perspective: Takes perspective of the nobles, but he doesn’t adopt the vantage point of the people throughout the book. He suggests his vantage point offers a unique perspective. The prince has the perspective from the mountain top, Machiavelli is providing viewpoint from below. Prince does not have the best viewpoint. The person below is the better judge. Cruel and great misfortune: Appeal to get his old job back. He is offering his justification for his own perspective that he takes that would be a very different one from the prince. Telling prince to change his perspective. Claim to originality proves that the prince would be wise to change his perspective. Pg. 19: Different perspective- Imitation is the leading principle of human behavior. Believes it to be true, and that it should be leading principle in guiding human behavior. Imitation critical form of political practice.

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