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

Cicero’s Republic: The Cyclical Theory of Constitutions

Cicero’s political philosophy is the most comprehensive from among the Roman philosophers.  In fact, we owe much to Cicero, since he was the one who translated politeia as “republic” with regards to Plato, hence forever passing on Plato’s great work to us as The Republic.  Cicero paid homage to Plato by the name De re publica.  … Continue reading Cicero’s Republic: The Cyclical Theory of Constitutions

Puritanism and the Origins of American Progressivism

It might be shocking, indeed scandalous, to assert that the heirs of America’s Pilgrim and Puritan founders are not Christian conservatives but American progressives.  Sure, the theology of progressives has evolved dramatically from the restless orthodox Calvinism of the Pilgrims and Puritans, but the underlying groundwork of creating a morally just, liberty-loving, and universal community … Continue reading Puritanism and the Origins of American Progressivism

Are we all Augustinians? A Review of William Connolly’s “The Augustinian Imperative”

William Connolly is one of the great contemporary scholars in Augustinian engagement—that is, he constantly contests, utilizes, or criticizes the philosophy and theology of Saint Augustine in formation of his own work, themes, or beliefs. In The Augustinian Imperative, Connolly engages Augustine in relationship to modern politics. Although Connolly could be seen as an Augustinian … Continue reading Are we all Augustinians? A Review of William Connolly’s “The Augustinian Imperative”

Giambattista Vico and the Conceit of “History”

Giambattista Vico was a 17th and 18th century Italian lawyer and philosopher. He produced the work The New Science in 1725, one of the most influential and important works of philosophy in the modern Western tradition. In his work, Vico lays out a comprehensive rebuke of Enlightenment philosophy and historicism, and his commentary on psychological, … Continue reading Giambattista Vico and the Conceit of “History”