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A Statement from Machiavelli: Agree or Disagree? - fcgv - 03-09-2010

In the Prince, Machiavelli states that "a prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it,"

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?



Re: A Statement from Machiavelli: Agree or Disagree? - veritatem_dilexisti - 03-09-2010

As Machiavelli meant it, no, since God created us not to be "great", but that we may know, love and serve Him.

I am reminded of this passage from Bossuet's Oraison funèbre du prince de Condé :

"Et voyez la malheureuse destinée de ces hommes [que Dieu] a choisis pour être les ornements de leur siècle. Qu'ont-ils voulu, ces hommes rares, sinon des louanges et la gloire que les hommes donnent? Peut-être que, pour les confondre, Dieu refusera cette gloire à leurs vains désirs? Non, il les confond mieux en la leur donnant, et même au delà de leur attente. Cet Alexandre qui ne voulait que faire du bruit dans le monde y en a fait plus qu'il n'aurait osé espérer. Il faut encore qu'il se trouve dans tous nos panégyriques, et il semble, par une espèce de fatalité glorieuse à ce conquérant, qu'aucun prince ne puisse recevoir de louanges qu'il ne les partage. S'il a fallu quelques récompenses à ces grandes actions des Romains, Dieu leur en a su trouver une convenable à leurs mérites comme à leurs désirs. Il leur donne pour récompense l'empire du monde, comme un présent de nul prix: ô rois, confondez-vous dans votre grandeur; conquérants, ne vantez pas vos victoires. Il leur donne pour récompense la gloire des hommes: récompense qui ne vient pas jusqu'à eux, qui s'efforce de s'attacher, quoi? peut-être à leurs médailles ou à leurs statues déterrées, restes des ans et des barbares; aux ruines de leurs monuments et de leurs ouvrages qui disputent avec le temps; ou plutôt à leur idée, à leur ombre, à ce qu'on appelle leur nom. Voilà le digne prix de tant de travaux, et dans le comble de leurs vœux la conviction de leur erreur. Venez, rassasiez-vous, grands de la terre; saisissez-vous, si vous pouvez, de ce fantôme de gloire, à l'exemple de ces grands hommes que vous admirez. Dieu, qui punit leur orgueil dans les enfers, ne leur a pas envié, dit saint Augustin, cette gloire tant désirée; et vains ils ont reçu une récompense aussi vaine que leurs désirs. Receperunt mercedem suam, vani vanam."


Re: A Statement from Machiavelli: Agree or Disagree? - Pilgrim - 03-10-2010

(03-09-2010, 08:12 AM)fcgv Wrote: In the Prince, Machiavelli states that "a prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it,"

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

It depends on how you define greatness.  As Machiavelli defines it, I generally don't agree, though I do believe that some of the men he considers great do have some virtues worthy of emulation.  If one defines greatness in a Catholic manner, then I absolutely agree.

If you guys are interested in Machiavelli getting a comeuppance, you should check out Peter Kreeft's Socrates Meets Machiavelli, which is part of a series of works in which Socrates has dialogues with modern philosophers and generally rips them up...  :)


Re: A Statement from Machiavelli: Agree or Disagree? - Satori - 03-10-2010

(03-10-2010, 10:26 AM)Pilgrim Wrote:
(03-09-2010, 08:12 AM)fcgv Wrote: In the Prince, Machiavelli states that "a prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it,"

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

It depends on how you define greatness.  As Machiavelli defines it, I generally don't agree, though I do believe that some of the men he considers great do have some virtues worthy of emulation.  If one defines greatness in a Catholic manner, then I absolutely agree.

If you guys are interested in Machiavelli getting a comeuppance, you should check out Peter Kreeft's Socrates Meets Machiavelli, which is part of a series of works in which Socrates has dialogues with modern philosophers and generally rips them up...  :)

I'd love to see it. Machiavelli is appalling, but I hope Kreeft (who is very cool) doesn't quote C.S. Lewis every other line -- his weakness.


Re: A Statement from Machiavelli: Agree or Disagree? - Pilgrim - 03-10-2010

Satori --

It's written as a dialogue between Machiavelli and Socrates and I don't remember either of them quoting Lewis... :)

As for Kreeft's tendency to quote Lewis, I've only read a few of his works (most notably his versions of the Summa), so I haven't really noted it.  Still, there are worse authors to quote...


Re: A Statement from Machiavelli: Agree or Disagree? - fcgv - 03-12-2010

(03-10-2010, 06:59 PM)Pilgrim Wrote: As for Kreeft's tendency to quote Lewis, I've only read a few of his works (most notably his versions of the Summa), so I haven't really noted it.  Still, there are worse authors to quote...
Indeed. C.S. Lewis is probably one of my favourite authors. His "Mere Christianity" is a classic and anyone would be well advised to pick up a copy of it to read.