Machiavelli: The Misunderstood Humanist Essay

Machiavelli: The Misunderstood Humanist Essay

Length: 1868 words (5.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

Machiavelli was a Florentine diplomat, statesman, and political philosopher in the early sixteenth century. He authored The Prince, a set of rules for new princes to follow in order to maintain control of their domains, emphasizing the use of power without regard to morality. Machiavelli published The Prince in 1513 and dedicated it to the Medicis with the goal of convincing them to unite Italy and end the Italian Wars, which took place from 1494 to 1559. Machiavelli’s philosophies have been criticized as contradictory to traditional humanist views, but this conclusion fails to consider the ideas set forth in The Prince in the context of other political philosophies and humanism at the time. Machiavelli’s political ethics meet the four characteristics of humanism: Classicism, realism, individualism, and active virtue. These factors combine to depict civic humanism in line with the humanist philosophies of Coluccio Salutati and Leonardo Bruno, two of Machiavelli’s predecessors.
Classicism is a defining characteristic of humanism displayed by Machiavelli. Humanist Classicism is characterized by the reference of classical sources and history (mainly Greek and Roman) not with nostalgia, but as a basis for argument. Machiavelli derives several of the arguments in The Prince from classical history and philosophy. For example, he first defines a type of state known as mixed principalities. These have two characteristics: first, they are ruled dynastically by a prince; second, they conquer new territories that differ in language, laws, and customs from themselves. Machiavelli explains that these states tend to come into difficulties while expanding because of the natural difficulty of ruling over peoples of different language, laws, and...


... middle of paper ...


...toc>.
Loughlin, James. "Pope Alexander VI." Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent, 1 Mar. 1907. Web. 26 Oct. 2013. .
Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince and Other Writings. Trans. Wayne A. Rebhorn. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2003. Print.
Mansfield, Harvey C. Machiavelli's Virtue. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1998. Print.
Nederman, Carry. "Niccolò Machiavelli." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford, 13 Sept. 2005. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. .
Skinner, Quentin. "The State." Contemporary Political Philosophy. Ed. Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1997. 6-9. Print.
Strauss, Leo, and Joseph Corpsey. History of Political Philosophy. 3rd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987. Print.
Viroli, Maurizio. Machiavelli's God. Princeton: Princeton University, 2010. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli Essay

- Machiavelli’s The Prince has been widely interpreted as representative of political behavior that is violent and deceitful. As such, the term Machiavellian has to come to be associated with deviousness, ruthlessness, and power politics. The issue of whether or not Machiavelli can be considered a Machiavellian himself is difficult to resolve because of the complexity of the arguments he puts forth in both The Prince and Discourses. While the claims made in the former are more focused on the individual, namely the “prince,” those posited in the latter describe phenomena on a broader spectrum, having to do with human nature and society at large....   [tags: sociopolitical analysis]

Term Papers
680 words (1.9 pages)

Essay Machiavelli: The Renaissance’s Anti-Humanist

- By the turn of the sixteenth century, the Italian Renaissance had produced writers such as Danté, Petrarch, Boccaccio and Castiglione, each with ideas rooted in the revival of Greek and Roman Classics, localization of the Christian traditions, idealistic opinions of women and individualism. From these authors spread the growth of the humanistic movement which encompassed the entirety of the Italian rebirth of arts and literature. One among many skeptics, including Lorenzo Valla, who had challenged the Catholic Church fifty years earlier in proving the falsity of the Donation of Constantine, Niccolò Machiavelli projected his ideas of fraudulence into sixteenth century Italian society by sugge...   [tags: Biography, Ancient Greece, Rome]

Term Papers
2445 words (7 pages)

Comparing the Secular Humanist, Machiavelli and the Religious Humanist, Erasmus

- Comparing the Secular Humanist, Machiavelli and the Religious Humanist, Erasmus One can often identify a person's political, religious or cultural orientation by his or her reaction to certain words. A case in point is the expression "secular humanism." For religious conservatives those words sum up much of what is wrong with contemporary society. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary gives several definitions for humanism, a word which made its appearance in 1832. The first is "a devotion to the humanities or the revival of class, individualistic and critical spirit, and emphasis on secular concerns characteristic of the Renaissance." Renaissance is capitalized....   [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]

Term Papers
3210 words (9.2 pages)

Essay about Machiavelli's The Prince and its Role in Politics in the Renaissance

- In the time of Renaissance, which has been characterized by the age of reawakening of humanism. The prince plays one of the most important role in the dramatic developing of political in the Renaissance period and still hold an universal impact on today's politicians. However its views points has been debating over time. Machiavelli maintain the thoughts which is the essential for the cruel to a successful leader. To those of view points according to Machiavelli's thoughts are the arguments that a prince is to be clement or cruel, to be feared or loved....   [tags: Machiavelli, Prince, ]

Term Papers
750 words (2.1 pages)

How Critical Hermeneutics and Descriptive Sociology Disavow Traditional Humanist Categories

- An examination of Humanist Hermeneutics in Literary Studies- the practice of close reading- but from a distance presents a room for relation between Literary Studies and other disciplines. Such practices lead to possibilities for renewed interdisciplinary exchange. Viewed within the framework of present day social constructionist theory or simply post- theory, the current essay Close but not Deep: Literary Ethics and the Descriptive Turn show how both Critical Hermeneutics and Descriptive Sociology disavow Traditional Humanist categories....   [tags: Humanist Hermeneutics in Literary Studies]

Term Papers
2546 words (7.3 pages)

Humanism the Gateway to Individualism Essay

- The greatest and most influential intellectual movement of Renaissance Italy was humanism. The humanists believed that the Greek and Latin classics contained all the lessons one needed to lead a moral and effective life and were the best models for a person to live by. They developed a new kind of classical scholarship, with which they corrected and tried to understand the works of the Greeks and Romans, which was important to them. Both the republic elites of Florence and Venice, and the ruling families of Milan, Ferrara, and Urbino hired humanists to teach their children classical morality and to write elegant, classical letters, histories, and propaganda....   [tags: renaissance, italian renaissance, humanist]

Term Papers
515 words (1.5 pages)

Free College Essays - Machiavelli’s Politics in The Prince

- The Prince - Machiavelli’s Italian Politics The Prince was one of the first humanist works of the Renaissance. Indeed it is a work of art, a literary masterpiece of sorts. Yet this work has been vehemently debated over the centuries and remains one of the most controversial pieces of writing today. Although many critics consider The Prince a satire, simply an attempt to reveal the problems with the ruling class, most see Machiavelli’s work as a serious attempt to lay the groundwork for the reunification of Italy under the Medici family of Florence....   [tags: Machiavelli Prince]

Free Essays
383 words (1.1 pages)

Machiavelli’s The Prince and the Modern Executive Essay

- The Prince and the Modern Executive     Few question The Prince’s place in the canon of western literature. That it marks a turning point in our collective history, the origin of the study of politics as a science (Pollock 43), is alone enough to warrant its classification as a "Great Book. Its author, Niccolo Machiavelli, a contemporary of Copernicus, is generally accepted as an early contributor to the scientific revolution, because he looked at power and the nature of sovereignty through the eyes of a scientist, focused completely on the goal without regard for religion and morals and ethics....   [tags: Machiavelli The Prince Essays]

Term Papers
1959 words (5.6 pages)

Machiavelli's The Prince Essay

- The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian statesman and author and prominent figure of the Renaissance, was born on May 3rd, 1469. His father was Bernardo di Niccoli, who belonged to an impoverished part of an old Florentine family, and there is little recorded about his youth. It was in the independent city-state of Florence that he began an active career as a politician as a young man, becoming part of important diplomatic missions throughout Europe. He met with some of the most famous figures of his time and all history, such as Pope Alexander IV, and his son Cesare Borgia, as well as King Louis VII of France and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I....   [tags: Niccolo Machiavelli]

Term Papers
1404 words (4 pages)

Essay about Machiavelli

- The Italian Renaissance is known for its birth of many notable philosophers, including the famous Niccolo Machiavelli. He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest political thinkers to have ever existed, and his ideas and beliefs have been an inspiration and motivation for many famous leaders. Although he has known to have been a positive influence on mankind, Machiavelli has also distinguished a bad reputation that has been unfairly given to him because of a misunderstanding in his views on politics....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Term Papers
1576 words (4.5 pages)