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Thoughts on Machiavelli First Paperback Edition Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
A brilliant book.
Through a detailed analysis of Machiavelli's books, Strauss shows how every important feature of modern thought is either directly traceable to Machiavelli, or else depends on a foundation he built. More importantly, Strauss outlines the differences between Machiavellism and what Machiavelli sought to replace--thereby making possible a (qualified) return to the superior understanding of pre-Machiavellian philosophy.
Such a return becomes more necessary every day, as the contradictions and prodigious errors of modern thought continue to erode civilization. Strauss alone has shown that return is possible--and this book is an indespenible guide for how to get there.
He carefully guides the reader toward his theses, though just as often he seems to guide the reader toward some thesis without explicitly stating it. It is surprising that the most bold elements of his interpretation seem to be wholly original. That originality should raise suspicion--did Machiavelli hide his intention so well that it took five centuries to be discovered? Strauss is careful to justify his moves, but it is possible that his interpretation reads too much into the texts or even that Strauss intentionally uses Machiavelli as he claims Machiavelli used Livy.
In the humanist-republican reading, Machiavelli's teaching that the end excuses the deed is excused through his patriotism. Strauss, on the other hand, argues that Machiavelli uses patriotism to veil his true aim which is to question the status of morality itself. For Strauss, Machiavelli marks the birth of modern philosophy because he reasons about everything rather than relying on authority. Further, in Machiavelli's writings, the meaning of philosophy undergoes a change: the city, not the soul, becomes the ultimate end. Philosophy takes as its standard the low but solid foundation of how men live. Since it is based on how men live rather than how they should live it is more likely to be actualized, but forgoes excellence.Read more ›
Thoughts on Machiavelli (hereafter ToM) is central in another sense. Strauss saw the history of philosophy as the struggle between the Ancients and the Moderns. This was the historical theme that he used to frame his main theme which was the fundamental alternative of Reason versus Revelation. Strauss saw the conflict between reason and revelation as playing out differently in classical political philosophy and in modern political philosophy. Machiavelli (hereafter, M.) is THE turning point.
ToM is divided into four chapters. The first delves into the relationship between Machiavelli's Prince and his Discourses. The second chapter explores what M.is trying to do in the Prince and the third chapter explores M.'s intention in The Discourses on Livy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Frankly, this book has started out great and then graduated to a serious disappointment.
To put things into context: I had read "Persecution and the Art of... Read more
A very erudite-sounding Amazon review (written by one J.C. Woods, if anybody cares) of Leo Strauss's Socrates and Aristophanes claims that Strauss's M.O. Read morePublished on May 12, 2013 by Mike Seder
"Thoughts on Machiavelli" is vintage Leo Strauss. In other words, the book is difficult to read, convoluted, and constantly strays from the main subject. Read morePublished on April 13, 2009 by Ashtar Command
So, says Strauss, Machiavelli is evil? Is that so? What do we mean by this? Is this not all too comforting an answer to a question that Strauss hammers the complexity of throughout... Read morePublished on December 10, 1999 by J. C. Woods