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The Prince

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The Prince

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  1. The Prince Understanding Niccolo Machiavelli

  2. The city of Florence • Machiavelli a lifelong citizen of Florence • Italy divided into city states, not united nation • Unlike feudal Europe, northern Italy dominated by cities which became major trading and economic centers • Individual identities aided by mountainous geography which prevented communication, etc. • While Catholic church important, distance allowed the city states to be relatively independent • Battle between states for power, constant changing of gov’ts, leaders

  3. Florence, Italy

  4. City-states of Italy

  5. Machiavelli (1469-1527) • Machiavelli raised in Florence • Born at a time when there was continual struggle for power between city states, church • Father was a well-known attorney • Is thought Machiavelli family descended from Tuscan royalty • Educated in Florence, which was one of the leading educational centers in Europe • At age 29, elected to office in Florence • Part of a diplomatic council in charge of negotiation and military affairs

  6. Machiavelli’s career • As part of work, sent to the courts of Spain, France, Germany, the Papacy in Rome, and a variety of the Italian city states • Between 1503-1506, in charge of Florence’s militia • Preferred to used invested citizen soldiers rather than mercenaries, a point he makes in The Prince • In August, 1512 the Medici take control of Florence • Old ruling family, out the republic set up in Florence • Machiavelli arrested and tortured, but is eventually allowed to go free and into exile • While in exile is when he writes The Prince

  7. The Prince • Machiavelli’s most famous work • Addresses the concept of the “new prince,” rather than the hereditary prince, who must stabilize his power as well as building political structure • Seen as the break between political idealism (Plato, Aristotle) and political realism • Machiavelli did not see value in rulers orienting themselves by an imaginary ideal world

  8. Understanding the text • Beginnings of empiricism and realism • Challenged the Christian value of Providence • Individual determines his own fate • Natural to be ambitious and seek glory, encourages risk taking, new systems • Leaders should not be religious but encourage his people to be religious • Helps maintain order and control • Good ends justify bad means • Basis of capitalism

  9. Royalty or Republic? • The Prince gives advice on achieving and maintaining political power • Text alludes to monarch, but other works indicate Machiavelli saw value in a republic • In 18th century, The Prince was viewed by critics as a satirical piece of writing • Current modern critics see The Prince as having some clear elements of irony

  10. Lasting legacy • Machiavellian: a term used to describe those who manipulate others for their own political advantage • Text had significant influence on a wide range of leaders, philosophers • John Adams extensively quotes Machiavelli in A Defense of the Constitution of the United States of America • Bacon, Hume, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Descartes

  11. Your assignment • Read two chapters: • Chapter 17: Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether it is Better to be Loved than Feared • Chapter 19: That One Should Avoid Being Despised and Hated • Read both chapters carefully and annotate text in anticipation for Socratic discussion on Wednesday • Participation in Socratic will be part of grade