Thoughts on Machiavelli
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Thoughts on Machiavelli

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Leo Strauss argued that the most visible fact about Machiavelli's doctrine is also the most useful one: Machiavelli seems to be a teacher of wickedness. Strauss sought to incorporate this idea in his interpretation without permitting it to overwhelm or exhaust his exegesis of "The Prince" and the "Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy". "We are in sympathy," he writes, "with the simple opinion about Machiavelli [namely, the wickedness of his teaching], not only because it is wholesome, but above all because a failure to take that opinion seriously prevents one from doing justice to what is truly admirable in Machiavelli: the intrepidity of his thought, the grandeur of his vision, and the graceful subtlety of his speech." This critique of the founder of modern political philosophy by this 20th-century scholar should be a valuable text for students of both authors.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 348 pages
  • 140 x 214 x 22mm | 479.99g
  • University of Chicago Press
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0226777022
  • 9780226777023
  • 416,144

Back cover copy

Leo Strauss argued that the most visible fact about Machiavelli's doctrine is also the most useful one: Machiavelli seems to be a teacher of wickedness. Strauss sought to incorporate this idea in his interpretation without permitting it to overwhelm or exhaust his exegesis of The Prince and the Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy. "We are in sympathy", he writes, "with the simple opinion about Machiavelli (namely the wickedness of his teaching), not only because it is wholesome, but above all because a failure to take that opinion seriously prevents one from doing justice to what is truly admirable in Machiavelli: the intrepidity of his thought, the grandeur of his vision, and the graceful subtlety of his speech". Strauss himself was sensitive to that "subtlety of speech", and responded to it in kind even as he labored to put the message it carried before the reader. Thoughts on Machiavelli is not a Machiavellian book, but it respects the genius of the Florentine author, and pays him the respect of using his artfulness with grace and restraint. This critique of the founder of modern political philosophy by this prominent twentieth-century scholar is an essential text for students of both authors.
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Table of contents

Preface Introduction I: The Twofold Character of Machiavelli's Teaching II: Machiavelli's Intention: The Prince III: Machiavelli's Intention: The Discourses IV: Machiavelli's Teaching Notes Index
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About Leo Strauss

Leo Strauss (1899-1973) joined the University of Chicago as professor of political philosophy in 1949 and was later named Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in political science. His many books include "Liberalism, Ancient and Modern," and "The City and Man," both available from the University of Chicago Press.
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114 ratings
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