Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Part I

Niccolò Machiavelli is a pivotal transitional figure in the history of Western philosophy and political thought.  His most famous work is The Prince, but his more important work in the Discourses on Livy.  Both are meant to be read together and together The Prince and Discourses are a full treatise on Machiavelli’s theory of the State.  The Prince, however, has had a … Continue reading Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Part I

Hegel’s Social and Political Theory

Hegel’s social and political philosophy was of profound importance in mid nineteenth century Germany, especially within the Kingdom of Prussia where he spent his latter days.  It is sometimes said that Hegel believed Prussia was the end of history, that Prussia was the fulfillment of the socio-political, constitutional, and ethical progression of the Spirit in … Continue reading Hegel’s Social and Political Theory

Leo Strauss on the Three Waves of Modernity

Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was one of the most important historians of political philosophy in the 20th century.  A Jewish emigre to America in the 1930s, Strauss made his name as an exegete of the classics (Plato, Aristotle, and Thucydides especially; Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Maimonides among Arab-Islamic and Jewish medieval philosophers, and Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas … Continue reading Leo Strauss on the Three Waves of Modernity

New Money Liberalism vs. The Working Class

Unless you really, truly, believe the old and warn out canard that moneyed-interest is “conservative” you are probably attuned to the shifting realities of money/wealth in politics.  First, conservatism has never been the philosophy of money—from Aristotle to Edmund Burke to G.K. Chesterton, there has always been a skepticism to economic doctrines promoting the free … Continue reading New Money Liberalism vs. The Working Class

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (5/5): Why Does Machiavelli Favor Republicanism?

The Discourses of Livy shows that Machiavelli favors a republic over all other forms of government—even though the real political dialectic is between republics and non-republics (i.e. tyrannies). Machiavelli prefers republican governance mostly for state and practical purposes. While Machiavelli certainly is a fan of liberty and order, he does not believe people are naturally … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (5/5): Why Does Machiavelli Favor Republicanism?

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (4/5): The Utility of Religion

Machiavelli was not a religious believer but believed in the social utility of religion. The question of God, salvation, and the immortality of the soul did not matter to him. What mattered to him was the reality of religion in life and how religion is useful for nations and why a nation’s vitality is tied … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (4/5): The Utility of Religion

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (3/5): Libido Dominandi, Individualism, and Greatness

One of the peculiar twists of Machiavelli is how he inverts the Augustinian worldview. Saint Augustine of Hippo famously said that man, in his fallenness, lusted for domination. Man, in his estrangement and depravity, lusted to control others. Fallen man lives in conflict. Machiavelli inherits this anthropological truth but turns it on its head. It … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (3/5): Libido Dominandi, Individualism, and Greatness

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (2/5): Political Conflict and Historicism

The central theme of book one is how the best form of political governance, or how the Roman republic became a more perfect republic, is through conflict. Machiavelli does not believe in the “from heaven” concept of constitutions. Nor does he agree with the classical political philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, etc.) that the best political … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (2/5): Political Conflict and Historicism

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (1/5): Polities and Political Forms

Niccolò Machiavelli is either scorned or considered the realist thinker par excellence. Even those who laud his realism may keep distance from his moral implications of politics. Such readings of Machiavelli have, more recently, been challenged thanks to individuals like Quinton Skinner, Harvey Mansfield, and Philip Bobbitt. Many people remember Machiavelli for his primer for … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (1/5): Polities and Political Forms