Renaissance in Italy Volume 5

Renaissance in Italy Volume 5

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Excerpt: ...The man who thought and felt in private what his familiar letters disclose, was no right censor of the principles that rule society. We cannot trust his moral tact or taste. Machiavelli was not a metaphysician. He started with the conception of the State as understood in Italy. His familiarity with the Latin classics, and his acquaintance with the newly-formed monarchies of Europe, caused him, indeed, to modify the current notion. But he did not inquire into the final cause of political communities, or present to his own mind a clear definition of what was meant by the phrase patria. We are aware of a certain hesitancy between the ideas of the Commune and the race, the State and the Government, which might have been removed by a more careful preliminary analysis. Between the Roman Republic, on the one hand, and the modern nation, on the other, we always find an Italian city. From this point of view, it is to be regretted that he did not appropriate Plato's Republic or Aristotle's Politics. 550 He might by such a course of study have -435- avoided the severance of politics from ethics, which renders his philosophy unnatural. We must, however, remember that he did not propose to plan a scientific system. His works have a practical aim in view. They are directed toward the grand end of Italy's restoration from weakness and degeneracy to a place among the powerful peoples of the world. This purpose modifies them in the most minute particulars. It is ever present to Machiavelli's mind. It makes his philosophy assume the form of a critique. It explains the apparent discord between the Discorsi and the Principe. It enables us to comprehend the nature of a patriotism which subordinates the interests of the individual to the body politic, even though the State were in the hands of an unscrupulous autocrat. The salvation of Italy, rather than any metaphysical principle, is the animating motive of Machiavelli's political writings. Yet we may note that if more

Product details

  • Paperback | 234 pages
  • 189 x 246 x 12mm | 426g
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1236735730
  • 9781236735737