His father was a doctor of law. Machiavelli seems to have been carefully educated in humanistic studies, although he never learned Greek.
However, the distance and opposition of each with respect to natural law were different in content. His silence is quite eloquent, if we consider that the concept amply circulated in the political and intellectual context of his time.
Prominent members of Florentine civic humanism frequently referred to natural law understood as a superior norm that comes directly from God and has therefore a higher normative status in comparison with civil laws. Coluccio Salutati, to mention a prominent example, wrote in his essay on the nobility of law De nobilitate legum et medicinaecomposed around that true civil laws must embody the universal principles of equity, proportion, and justice that natural and divine laws reveal to us.
Girolamo Savonarola repeated over and over in his writings and his sermons some of which Machiavelli surely heard that natural law is valid in all times and among all peoples, and that human laws must take inspiration from it.
Therefore it is said that hunger and poverty make men industrious, and the laws make them good. For him, the rule of law is the indispensable basis of any form of legitimate government. Once it is in place, it must be obeyed without allowing for privileges or discriminations.
As he strongly asserts, crimes have to be punished regardless of the personal and public merits of the criminal. Natural law has simply no role.
A much more serious line of attack against the principle of natural law came from Francesco Guicciardini.
Rather than believing that men follow the dictates of reason it is much safer to consider their passions and inclinations. Any general rule finds in politics very little application. Each situation is characterized by a specific set of circumstances. There are only exceptions, which we can discern with the help of concrete experience.
Even examples and similar situations are not safe references for political choices: What really helps is the ability to detect what makes each situation different. Understandably, for political thinkers who held these beliefs, natural law was of no use at all. He asserts that all states, even republics, are grounded upon sheer force poorly veiled by pretensions of honesty.
By making this claim in his Dialogue on the Government of Florence, even if he never published it, Guicciardini opens the path to a complete dismissal of natural law. He did not simply point to the practice of states, as Machiavelli had done. He claimed that there is a reason that political leaders may invoke to justify violations of the principles that moral reason dictates to human beings.
Even if many theorists were pious Christians and claimed that reason of state was perfectly compatible with the law of God, its very definition elaborated by Giovanni Botero in his book Of Reason of Statemade natural law irrelevant.
Moreover, he referred to states in general, without distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate ones. As later theorists stressed, reason of state ought to be understood as a principle of derogation of ordinary law on behalf of a more universal norm, that is, the interest and the life of the state.
These secret norms are to be distinguished from the bad reason of state used by tyrants. However, it remains true that the prince represents the state and is therefore the ultimate interpreter of reason of state, just as he was supposed to be the sole authorized interpreter of natural law.
Although they all paid due respect to natural law and to God, theorists of reason of state did in fact detach political thinking from the natural law tradition and powerfully steered it toward Hobbes.Sep 19, · John Gilley, Niccolo Machiavelli authored one of the most renowned texts in the history of political thought.
The Prince was written at a time of political instability: Italy was experiencing internal division and this resulted in threats from opportunist neighbours, and consequently Machiavelli saw a need to advise rulers in the art of successful leadership (Gilbert, ).
May 23, · The body of literature debating this question, especially in connection with The Prince and Discourses, has grown to truly staggering proportions.
John Pocock (), for example, has traced the diffusion of Machiavelli's republican thought throughout the so-called Atlantic world and, specifically, into the ideas that guided the framers of the. Machiavelli, NiccolÓWORKS BY MACHIAVELLI SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY NiccolÓ Machiavelli (–) was an Italian political and military theorist, civil servant, historian, playwright, and rutadeltambor.com Machiavellis, an ancient middle-class family of .
Niccolò Machiavelli, (born May 3, , Florence, Italy—died June 21, , Florence), Italian Renaissance political philosopher and statesman, secretary of the Florentine republic, whose most famous work, The Prince (Il Principe), brought him a reputation as an atheist and an immoral cynic. Niccolò Machiavelli and "The Prince" One of his most notable positions was serving as a sort of political advisor to the Borgia family.
The head of the family, Alexander Borgia, was Pope; the eldest son was Cesare Borgia, a bloodthirsty young warlord; the younger daughter Lucrezia was rumored to have poisoned her way through several.
Learn about how Niccolo Machiavelli became one of the most influential political theorists of Western philosophy.
it is by far the most read work by Machiavelli and one of the most prominent texts of Western political thought. Despite the popularity of The Prince, Machiavelli’s major political work is probably The Discourses on the.