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Aristotle & Machiavelli Fall 2007 Overview Aristotle Machiavelli Mill Aristotle Biographical Overview 384-322 B.C.E. Born in Macedonia, to wealthy parents connected to the royal household Studied with Plato for 17 years Tutor to Alexander the Great 343-335 B.C.E.

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overview
Overview
  • Aristotle
  • Machiavelli
  • Mill
aristotle
Aristotle
  • Biographical Overview
    • 384-322 B.C.E.
    • Born in Macedonia, to wealthy parents connected to the royal household
    • Studied with Plato for 17 years
    • Tutor to Alexander the Great 343-335 B.C.E.
    • 335/4 returned to Athens and founded own school – the Lyceum
aristotle s regime types
Aristotle’s Regime Types

“End” of Regime

Public Good

Private Gain

Size

Of

Regime

back

aristotle s regime types5
Aristotle’s Regime Types

“End” of Regime

Public Good

Private Gain

Size

Of

Regime

aristotle s regime types6
Aristotle’s Regime Types

“End” of Regime

Public Good

Private Gain

Size

Of

Regime

aristotle s regime types7
Aristotle’s Regime Types

“End” of Regime

Public Good

Private Gain

Size

Of

Regime

aristotle s regime types8
Aristotle’s Regime Types

“End” of Regime

Public Good

Private Gain

Size

Of

Regime

aristotle s regime types9
Aristotle’s Regime Types

“End” of Regime

Public Good

Private Gain

Size

Of

Regime

aristotle s regime types10
Aristotle’s Regime Types

“End” of Regime

Public Good

Private Gain

Size

Of

Regime

aristotle s polity
Aristotle’s Polity
  • Monarchy?
    • No: we want the highest level of communal activity possible. Monarchy won’t allow that
aristotle s polity12
Aristotle’s Polity
  • Democracy?
    • No: remember our inegalitarian understanding of nature; therefore unlikely that the virtues will be distributed evenly through the population
aristotle s polity13
Aristotle’s Polity
  • Aristocracy?
    • Yes.
    • Why?
      • Allows for public participation in reason
      • Power will be diffused through the group rather than concentrated in a single individual
      • Likely that will be able to have moral virtue or goodness in this restricted group of people
aristotle s polity14
Aristotle’s Polity
  • Evolution of the polis problem
  • How to prevent the decay or at least stave off the decay.
  • How do we account for the collapse of these regime types?
aristotle s polity15
Aristotle’s Polity
  • Answer?
    • The existence of factions within the body politic
  • Why do factions arise?
    • Need to re-examine the organization of the polis
aristotle s polity16
Aristotle’s Polity
  • What is the first necessity of the polis?
    • Need to sustain mere life in order to begin to pursue the good life
  • But
    • The production of mere life creates class differences which makes pursuit of the good life untenable
  • How or Why?
aristotle s polity17
Aristotle’s Polity
  • If we assume that:
    • Scarcity exists, and that
    • Talents and luck are unevenly distributed in the population, then
  • In the division of labor of the city, we will inevitably get an inegalitarian social system, with the population divided into distinct and competing classes
aristotle s polity18
Aristotle’s Polity
  • The Power of the Rich:
    • The wealthy have a natural common interest in protecting wealth
    • Oligarchic faction is inevitable
    • Claim to power?
      • Since wealth is necessary for polis to run, and wealth is built on inequality, it is permissible to treat unequals as unequals.
aristotle s polity19
Aristotle’s Polity
  • Power of the Poor?
    • In a city, likely to have many more people who are poor rather than rich
    • Power of numbers
    • Ideological claim?
      • Since demos (the people) defend the city and the wealthy who live there, then each group contributes equally important functions to the polis, so that justice then means allowing everyone into the ruling class
aristotle s polity20
Aristotle’s Polity
  • How to settle between the two?
  • Aristotle argues that at one level, both groups seem to be right, but that at a deeper level both are wrong
  • Both forget that the aim of the polis is not simply mere life, but the good life (III, ix, 1280b29-1281a2)
aristotle s polity21
Aristotle’s Polity
  • The city needs an aristocratic faction
  • Not necessarily wealthy, but a small group concerned with the good (moral virtue)
  • Unfortunately, such people are relatively powerless (not necessarily rich and not a majority)
aristotle s polity22
Aristotle’s Polity
  • Life of the polis will degenerate to the Lowest Common Denominator (pursuit of mere life) where either the demos or the oligarchs rule, and pursuit of the good life is lost
  • So… need to determine how to control factions
aristotle s polity23
Aristotle’s Polity
  • His solution?

“The first and obvious point to make is that if indeed we do understand the causes of their [i.e., Constitutions’] destruction, then we understand also the causes of their preservation. For opposites are productive of opposites, and destruction is the opposite of preservation” (V, viii, 1307b26)

aristotle s polity24
Aristotle’s Polity
  • His solution?
    • Given that we have two different factions, what can we do?
      • Options are constrained by the raw material we have to work with
      • Don’t allow officeholders a financial gain in holding office:

“It is most important in every constitution that the legal and other administrative arrangements should be such that holding office is not a source of profit”

-- V, viii, 1308b3I

      • Implication: only oligarchs will rule
      • Pay people to vote
        • Demos can control the rulers
the polity of mixed government
The Polity of Mixed Government
  • People will choose their rulers on the basis of which are the “best” oligarchs
  • Aristotle argues that we need to try to mix the oligarchic and democratic elements together so that once we assemble the government, it is neither democratic nor oligarchic
the polity of mixed government26
The Polity of Mixed Government
  • In this way we can try to get the oligarchs to act more like aristocrats
  • Why?
    • In order to gain votes they’ll need to appeal to the interests of the other class. They’ll need to offer a vision of the good life for the city as a whole.
the polity of mixed government27
The Polity of Mixed Government
  • So Aristotle’s vision of the best regime is the polity – a political association which attempts to form a just regime with less than perfect people
machiavelli
Machiavelli
  • Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527)
  • European Renaissance
    • Declining power of Church
    • Advancing in Science, Arts, Literature
  • The Prince written in 1513 during period of political exile
machiavelli30
Machiavelli
  • Machiavelli & Florence
    • Medici family rules city
    • French forces invade, set up republican government
    • Machiavelli gets role in government, ends up as high civil servant, some diplomatic missions and military operations
machiavelli31
Machiavelli
  • Machiavelli & Florence
    • Spanish defeat the French, and reinstall the Medici
    • Machiavelli is arrested, tortured, and eventually exiled to his country home beyond the city walls
    • During this period (he’s in his 40s) he begins his philosophical/political writing, including The Prince and The Discourses
ii machiavelli
II. Machiavelli
  • In the Prince Machiavelli asserts:

“For one can generally say this about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for gain; and while you work for their good they are completely yours, offering you their blood, their property, their lives, and their sons, as I said earlier, when danger is far away; but when it comes nearer to you they turn away” (chapter XVII).

machiavelli33
Machiavelli
  • For Machiavelli, people are essentially selfish and motivated by selfish desires
  • If that’s the case though, what sort of political regime do we need -- a monarchy or a republic?
  • What’s the advantage to obeying the rule of law?
ii machiavelli34
II. Machiavelli
  • According to Machiavelli, if a Prince or ruler wants to stay in power, he must

“Learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge or not to use it according to necessity” (chapter XV)

ii machiavelli35
II. Machiavelli
  • What does this mean?
  • Machiavelli is not advising us to behave badly simply for the sake of being evil
ii machiavelli36
II. Machiavelli
  • Rather since we see power in political life we need to see how rulers gain and exercise power over us
  • He notes that for princes to surive, the basic strategy is don’t help others, be cruel, stingy, deceptive…
  • And get others to do the dirty work so you can escape blame
ii machiavelli37
II. Machiavelli

“You must, therefore, know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second” (chapter XVIII).

ii machiavelli38
II. Machiavelli

for the lion cannot defend itself from traps and the fox

“Since, then, a prince must know how to make good use of the nature of the beast, he should choose from among the beasts the fox and the lion;

cannot protect itself from wolves.

It is therefore necessary to be a fox in order to recognize the traps and a lion in order to frighten the wolves.”

ii machiavelli39
II. Machiavelli
  • Examples?

“Cesare Borgia acquired the state through the favour and help of his father, and when this no longer existed, he lost it, and this despite the fact that he did everything and used every means that a prudent and skillful man ought to use in order to root himself securely in those states that the arms and fortune of others had granted him”

ii machiavelli40
II. Machiavelli
  • Background here:
  • Cesare’s father? Pope Alexander VI
  • The Pope put Cesare in charge of Florence, and issued a formal papal bull (order) authorizing him to expand the power of Florence
  • What were some of the means used by this “prudent” and “skillful” man?
ii machiavelli41
II. Machiavelli

Borgia takes over Romagna, but is meeting resistance since “it was ruled by powerless noblemen who had been quicker to despoil their subjects than to govern them, and gave them cause to disunite rather than to unite them”

ii machiavelli42
II. Machiavelli
  • He decided it was necessary to bring “peace and obedience of the law” and installed a man named Remirro de Orca, a “cruel and efficient man” to rule
  • Then, after the area was pacified, Borgia does the following:
ii machiavelli43
II. Machiavelli

“Since he knew that the severities of the past had brought about a certain amount of hate, in order to purge the minds of those people and win them over completely, he planned to demonstrate that if cruelty of any kind had come about, it did not stem from him [Borgia] but rather from the bitter nature of the minister…”

ii machiavelli44
II. Machiavelli

“And having found the occasion to do this, he had him placed one morning in Cesena on the piazza in two pieces with a piece of wood and a bloodstained knife alongside him.”

ii human nature and power
II. Human Nature and Power

“The atrocity of such a spectacle left those people at one and the same time satisfied and stupefied.”

ii machiavelli46
II. Machiavelli

Agathocles the Sicilian (chapter VIII)

Oliverotto of Fermo (chapter VIII)

Footnote:

  • A year after the events described here (1512), Cesare had Fermo strangled and the corpse displayed on the main square of Senigallia for 3 days
ii machiavelli47
II. Machiavelli
  • Conclusion?

“In taking a state its conqueror should weigh all the harmful things he must do and do them all at once so as not to have to repeat them every day, and in not repeating them to be able to make men feel secure and win them over with the benefits he bestows upon them”

ii machiavelli48
II. Machiavelli
  • Machiavelli is not counseling the need to be cruel, nor denying that cruelty is sometimes useful, but rather showing the true nature of monarchic rule
  • Could these atrocities occur in a democracy?
  • The primary requirement for selfish individuals seeking personal goals is to enter into reciprocal relationships where each needs power or influence over the behavior of others
ii machiavelli49
II. Machiavelli
  • In entering these relationships, all are equal in their selfishness, and all are free to seek power
  • He’s not saying that people will never act on the common good, only that they will do so only if they see an identity between their private interest and the common good
ii machiavelli50
II. Machiavelli
  • Those who appear good or altruistic to others are either rational actors really motivated by desire for personal advantage, or ruled by laziness and retreating from their political responsibilities
  • Even if you think you have a good prince, be careful
ii machiavelli51
II. Machiavelli

“And it is essential to understand this: that a prince, and especially a new prince, cannot observe all those things for which men are considered good, for in order to maintain the state he is often obliged to act against his promise, against charity, against humanity, and against religion…”

ii machiavelli52
II. Machiavelli

“And therefore, it is necessary that he have a mind ready to turn itself according to the way the winds of fortune and the changeability of affairs require him; and, as I said above, as long as it is possible, he should not stray from the good, but he should know how to enter into evil when necessity commands” (Chapter XVIII).

ii machiavelli53
II. Machiavelli
  • What is the best way to maintain the state?
  • What is the best form of government?
  • What are the basic forms of government?
ii machiavelli54
II. Machiavelli
  • Unlike Aristotle, Machiavelli argues that basically we have two forms:
      • Republic
      • Monarchy

“All the states, all the dominions that have had and still have power over men, were and still are either republics or principalities” (first sentence, Chapter 1)

ii machiavelli55
II. Machiavelli
  • Republics:
    • Founded by a strong, inspirational leader rallying the citizenry
    • Based on law
    • Governed in the interest of the majority, not of a special elite
    • Mixed class – members of all classes have opportunity to participate
ii machiavelli56
II. Machiavelli
  • Note, republics require a special citizenry: active, engaged, public spirited
  • Unlikely to have those conditions in every area, so tyranny is inevitable
ii machiavelli57
II. Machiavelli
  • Tyrannies
    • Masses are subjects, not active participants in political life
    • Ruling classes enjoy more liberty, and when interests of rulers conflict with liberty of the masses, the rulers prevail
ii machiavelli58
II. Machiavelli
  • The masses are content with this arrangement since they recognize that without the ruler, anarchy would ensue, or
  • They’re content because they are either fearful or awestruck of the powers that be
ii machiavelli59
II. Machiavelli
  • Lacking the virtue of citizens in a republic, the masses under tyrannical regimes both merit and need tyranny
  • And when a tyrant is stuck governing a bunch of corrupt, vulgar masses who lack virtue, then ordinary morality is not binding and he/she/they can pretty much do what they must to stay in power