A comparison of the ideas in the prince and discourses

This essay intends to examine whether the political models set out in The Discourses on the first ten books of Livy are an accurate representation of a Machiavellian ideal, or if a separate agenda renders it inadequate to express his true view of politics. By approaching the book itself and other Machiavellian works, the historical context they were written in and other relevant factors, this essay will ultimately conclude that The Discourses do in fact represent his true view of politics. To sustain an argument supporting this statement, one fundamental truth must be accepted; Machiavelli expresses views in The Discourses that are equal to his overarching political tenets. Given that The Discourses is written in relatively simple Italian, non- complex prose and straightforward logic, the text and its political message is clear; a book setting out the pre-requisites for a successful republic.

A comparison of the ideas in the prince and discourses

A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known.

Dictionary of the English Language Introduction In a brillant and equally iconoclastic article of"Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas," Quentin Skinner identifies a series of intellectual errors that he contends are commonplace within the history of ideas. One of these fallacies, or mythologies, as Skinner calls them, is the mythology of coherence, which he defines as the dogmatic search for a unified interpretation or a coherent view of a given author's ideas or work.

In the excerpt reproduced below, Skinner quotes W. Macpherson as two general representatives of the mythology of coherence. The other metaphysical belief to which the mythology of coherence gives rise is that a writer may be expected not merely to exhibit some 'inner coherence' which it becomes the duty of his interpreter to reveal, but also that any apparent barriers to this revelation, constituted by any apparent contradictions which the given writer's work does seem to contain, cannot be real barriers, because they cannot really be contradictions.

The assumption, that is, is that the correct question to ask in such a doubtful situation is not whether the given writer was inconsistent, but rather 'How are his contradictions or apparent contradictions to be accounted for?

Such apparent incompatibilities, it is often said instead, should not simply be left in this unresolved state, but should be made to serve instead in helping towards 'a fuller understanding of the whole theory' - of which the contradictions, presumably, form only an unsublimated part.

The very suggestion, indeed, that the 'contradictions and divergences' of a given writer may be 'supposed to prove that his thought had changed' has been dismissed by a very influential authority as just another delusion of nineteenth-century scholarship.

A comparison of the ideas in the prince and discourses

So it comes about that much current practice in the history of ideas deliberately endorses one of the more fantastic doctrines of the scholastics themselves: The aim, for example, in studying the politics of Machiavelli need not therefore be restricted to anything so straightforward as an attempt to indicate the nature of the developments and divergences from The Prince to the later Discourses.

It can be - and has been - insisted instead that the appropriate task must be to construct for Machiavelli a scheme of beliefs sufficiently generalized for the doctrines of The Prince to be capable of being aufgehoben into the Discourses with all the apparent contradictions resolved.

Quentin Skinner and His Critics, ed. Cambridge University Press,pp. In Meaning and Context, Skinner returns to the issue when replying to his critics. To support his view, Skinner gives an example drawn from Machiavelli's work, which highlights the importance he attributes to the terms liberty, republic and the common good in the Florentine's ideological vocabulary.

These conclusions can also be stated in the form of a further methodological precept. If as historians we come upon contradictory beliefs, we should start by assuming that we must in some way have misunderstood or mistranslated some of the propositions by which they are expressed.

As a simple instance of what I have in mind, consider yet a further example from Machiavelli's political works. In his Discourses Machiavelli affirms that liberty is possible only under a repubblica. What then does he believe? Does he or does he not think that liberty and monarchy are incompatible?

Historians have tended to reply that he seems to be confuse: I am suggesting, however, that before we endorse such a conclusion we ought first to consider whether we may not in some way have misunderstood what he said.

Sure enough, if we investigate the full range of contexts in which the term repubblica occurs, we discover that in Machiavelli the term is used to denote any form of government under which the laws may be said to foster the common good.


It follows that for Machiavelli the question of whether a monarchy can be a repubblica is not an empty paradox, as it would be for us, but a deep question of statecraft. The question is whether kings can ever be relied upon to pass only such laws as will serve the common good.

A comparison of the ideas in the prince and discourses

This gives us an alternative reading: Machiavelli is telling us that, under Romulus and his successors, the laws of Rome served the common good, so that the government, although monarchical in form, was an instance of a repubblica. Since this has the effect of resolving the contradiction, I am suggesting that this is also the interpretation we ought to prefer.

But what if the initial contradiction had refused to yield to any such re-interpretative efforts? I have already given my answer:[Trenchard, John. Cato’s Letters, or Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects. Four volumes in Two, edited and annotated by Ronald Hamowy.

Gautama Buddha (c. / – c. / BCE), also known as Siddhārtha Gautama (सिद्धार्थ गौतम) in Sanskrit or Siddhāttha Gotama (शिद्धत्थ गोतम) in Pali, Shakyamuni (i.e.

Gautama Buddha (c. / – c. / BCE), also known as Siddhārtha Gautama (सिद्धार्थ गौतम) in Sanskrit or Siddhāttha Gotama (शिद्धत्थ गोतम) in Pali, Shakyamuni (i.e. "Sage of the Shakyas") Buddha, or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk (), mendicant, and sage, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. PREFACE. This rendering of King Asoka's Edicts is based heavily on Amulyachandra Sen's English translation, which includes the original Magadhi and a Sanskrit and English translation of the text. Despite the popularity of The Prince, Machiavelli’s major political work is probably The Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius. Its first pages were written in , but the text was completed only between and

"Sage of the Shakyas") Buddha, or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk (), mendicant, and sage, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. A typical Jew in Jesus' time a comparison between the monarch and weed butterfly had only one name, sometimes supplemented a comparison of the ideas in the prince and discourses with an analysis of catholic church the father's name or the A comparison of .

While Chanakya was born in Patliputra that was under the troubled Nanda Dynasty (King Dhanananda), Machiavelli was born in Florence and witnessed a troubled Italy which he terms as a city divided in itself (in his famous work The Prince).

Zimbabwean History in Context: A comparison of the History Book with existent history curriculum and teaching. The Discourses on Livy by Niccolo Machiavelli are, at their base, a comparison of the ancient Roman civilization and the Italian states during the life of Machiavelli.

Machiavelli had a very low opinion of Italy in his day, especially in comparison with the ancient Roman Empire.

Philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard - Wikipedia