Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Part III

In finishing the last chapters of Machiavelli’s most famous work, The Prince, we will tie up loose ends and come to an understanding of what Machiavelli was saying in his work and what Machiavelli was not saying in his work.  To review, up to this point Machiavelli’s Prince is about “practical advice” on new princes who have risen … Continue reading Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Part III

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

Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex (Introduction)

Simone de Beauvoir stands alongside Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus as the trinity of French existentialist writers that most people will encounter in their dealings with modern 20th century existentialism after Heidegger.  Influenced by philosophers like Augustine, Hegel, Marx, and Heidegger, the French existentialists took their intellectual forebears and turned them in new directions.  Simone … Continue reading Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex (Introduction)

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

Clausewitz and the Trinity of War

Carl von Clausewitz is regarded as one of the foremost philosophers of war to have ever lived.  A Prussian army officer and veteran of the Napoleonic Wars—including Prussia’s darkest hours during the 1806 Campaign, he lived through exciting military and intellectual times.  He lived through the Prussian army reforms after their disastrous defeats at the … Continue reading Clausewitz and the Trinity of War

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

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 (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