machiavelli the discourses

2 paragraphs single spaced size 12 times. at least 4 quotes with page numbers- Using chapters 19- through the end.

in past discussions we have expounded Machiavelli’s conception of politics — which we have termed statecraft — by considering his views on religious values in the context of a basic warning that he issues to all political leaders. That warning might be stated as follows.

Power is often (even usually, if not always) a function of the particular organization of elements — agents, structures, attitudes, dispositions, as well as all of those difficult-to-explain force relations captured under the name fortuna — in a place and time. Power is never stable — it is always in flux, and relative to the political leader, power is either scarce or it is in excess. The task is to exercise the right amount at the right time, using the right means.

Power, then, for Machiavelli, is neither good nor bad. The point is to see that it is useful. Likewise, human beings are neither good nor bad by nature. Rather, while the attributes and characteristics they display are often not suited to political life, it is best to regard them simply as sources of energy that the political leader, or leaders, can harness and put to work in the service of a strong, stable, long-lasting polity, a political project that future generations might deem worthy of respect.

In sum, there is no one path to glory, no one solution to the riddle of humanity, no one answer to the problem that persists for all moderns: how to reconcile the interest-motivated individual with the demand for equality and fairness (in front of the law). Answers vary — they are made available to us by the times — by the same forces that would tear apart our most well laid out plans.

If this is the case, then Machiavelli has opened the door to political pluralism, to toleration, to empiricism and to compromise. Indeed, one could say that Machiavelli counsels moderation. As one commentator has noted, “Those who wished to survive realized that they had to tolerate error. They gradually came to see merits in diversity, and to became skeptical about definitive solutions in human affairs.”

Your task in this final series of discussion postings is to mine the final chapters of the Discourses for insights that seem to suggest the above, to explore these chapters relative to this ultimate premise upon which Machiavelli’s political thought may most appropriately be understood.

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