Machiavelli in Context The Great Courses minute lectures Who Is Machiavelli Why Does He Matter Machiavelli s Florence Classical Thought in Renaissance Florence The Life of Niccol Machiavelli Why Did Machiavelli Write The Prince

  • Title: Machiavelli in Context (The Great Courses #4311)
  • Author: William R. Cook
  • ISBN: 9781598031683
  • Page: 315
  • Format: Audio Cassette
  • 24 30 minute lectures1 Who Is Machiavelli Why Does He Matter 2 Machiavelli s Florence3 Classical Thought in Renaissance Florence4 The Life of Niccol Machiavelli5 Why Did Machiavelli Write The Prince 6 The Prince, 1 5 Republics Old and New7 The Prince, 6 7 Virt and Fortuna8 The Prince, 8 12 The Prince and Power9 The Prince, 13 16 The Art of Being a Prince10 The Prince, 124 30 minute lectures1 Who Is Machiavelli Why Does He Matter 2 Machiavelli s Florence3 Classical Thought in Renaissance Florence4 The Life of Niccol Machiavelli5 Why Did Machiavelli Write The Prince 6 The Prince, 1 5 Republics Old and New7 The Prince, 6 7 Virt and Fortuna8 The Prince, 8 12 The Prince and Power9 The Prince, 13 16 The Art of Being a Prince10 The Prince, 17 21 The Lion and the Fox11 The Prince, 21 26 Fortune and Foreigners12 Livy, the Roman Republic, and Machiavelli13 Discourses Why Machiavelli Is a Republican14 Discourses The Workings of a Good Republic15 Discourses Lessons from Rome16 Discourses A Principality or a Republic 17 Discourses The Qualities of a Good Republic18 Discourses A Republic at War19 Discourses Can Republics Last 20 Discourses Conspiracies and Other Dangers21 Florentine Histories The Growth of Florence22 Florentine Histories The Age of the Medici23 The Fate of Machiavelli s Works24 Was Machiavelli a Machiavellian Mentioning the name Niccol Machiavelli can unleash a powerful response, even among people who have never read a word of his writings Our language even has a word Machiavellian that encapsulates the images those responses conjure up An indistinct figure quietly making his way through the darkest corridors of power, hatching plots to play one rival against another A cold blooded political liar, ready to justify any duplicity undertaken in the name of a noble end that will ultimately justify the most malignant means A coolly practical leader amoral at best willing to do whatever is necessary in a world governed not by ideas of right or wrong, but by solutions dictated by realpolitik.But does the Machiavelli most of us think we know bear any resemblance to the Machiavelli who lived, pondered, and wrote According to Professor William R Cook, a reading of Machiavelli that considers only those qualities that we today call Machiavellian is incomplete, and Machiavelli himself certainly would not recognize such sinister interpretations or caricatures of his writings and beliefs Indeed, The Prince on the pages of which so much of this image was built was not even published in his lifetime.In the 24 lectures that make up Machiavelli in Context, Professor Cook offers the opportunity to meet an extraordinarily thoughtful and sincere student of history and its lessons, and to learn that there is far to him than can be gleaned from any reading of The Prince, no matter how thorough.Although The Prince is the work by which most of us think we know Machiavelli, and although some have indeed called it the first and most important book of political science ever written, it was not, according to Professor Cook, either Machiavelli s most important work or the one most representative of his beliefs Those distinctions belong, instead, to his Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy, a longer work started at about the same time and which would, like The Prince, not be published until well after his death Everyone who has seriously studied the works of Machiavelli agrees that he believed in the superiority of a republican form of government, defined as a mixed constitution with elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy Once we recover the context of the writing of The Prince, and analyze it along with the Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy, it will be clear how The Prince can be read as a book designed to guide leaders in the creation for Machiavelli, restoration of republican government in Italy Ultimately, Machiavelli s goal wasn t much different from ours It was to live in a free and equal participatory society, because he believed that was the greatest way in which human beings could live and flourish In fact, says Professor Cook, Machiavelli s republican thought influenced the development of institutions and values both in Europe and in America To present a complete and well rounded picture of Machiavelli s ideas on how human societies should be organized and governed, Professor Cook sets aside much of Machiavelli s written output which included the political work The Art of War, a biography, many letters, and even some plays to focus on The Prince, the Discourses, and, briefly, his Florentine Histories.In doing so, Professor Cook draws on the same qualities so evident in his previous courses for The Teaching Company Tocqueville and the American Experience, Dante s Divine Comedy, Francis of Assisi, and St Augustine s Confessions.Teaching in the relaxed and informal style of those courses, Professor Cook moves easily among the different disciplines so pertinent to an understanding of Machiavelli s ideas, including history, philosophy, government, and the elements of leadership He is unfailingly clear, always provides any definitions needed to understand the material at hand, and is always ready with a touch of wit whenever that is appropriate.Because so much of our contemporary misunderstanding of Machiavelli s ideas comes from a lack of context, Professor Cook carefully sets the stage for a complete perspective of Machiavelli s world.Long before he turns to the works themselves, you ll have learned about Florence and its political history, both before and during Machiavelli s lifetime the developing Renaissance culture of Machiavelli s time, especially as it bears on the use of ancient political thought by writers and political leaders and Machiavelli s own life story, including his education, service to the Florentine Republic, years spent in exile south of Florence, and the ways each period of his life affected his writings.The result is a thorough grounding in the information one needs to understand and appreciate this stunningly original thinker.You ll learn, for example, what Machiavelli means when he discusses the important ideas of virt and Fortuna.Though these are today invariably translated as virtue and fortune, Machiavelli s meanings can involve much Though he sometimes uses virt in the sense we would understand today, he often uses the word which comes from the classical Latin word for Man as a means of describing the way one practices successful statecraft aggressively, with no reluctance to use lies, deceit, and cruelty that may be required to maintain power, and hence the stability the people deserve.In a similar way Machiavelli uses Fortuna in a different sense than might have been used by, say, Dante when he describes the vagaries of fate over which we have no control.Instead, Machiavelli uses the adage, Fortune is like a river Though we cannot control fortune, which may well choose to make the river flood, a good ruler, practicing virt , can indeed prepare for it, and thus modify its effects.You ll see how Machiavelli first became exposed to history and one of its earliest great practitioners the Roman historian, Livy through his own experience of Fortuna.Though printed books such as Livy s Early History of Rome were too expensive for a family like the young Machiavelli s in the 15th century, his father did own a copy He had written the index, and a copy of the book had been part of his payment Thus Machiavelli grew up with the volumes about which he would one day write his own most important work, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy.You ll be introduced to Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI and the man regarded as Machiavelli s model for The Prince, especially in the way his actions embodied the virt so important to Machiavelli.Professor Cook brings this out in a shocking story of Borgia s use of a tough and merciless Spaniard Ramiro d Orco to impose order and stability on the area of north central Italy known as the Romagna that had come under Borgia s rule and was beset by crime and violence.D Orco s brutal methods had the desired effect And when the job was completed, the local people emerged from their homes one morning to find the two halves of Ramiro d Orco s body on opposite sides of the town square of Cesana, because d Orco had been too tough, and Cesare Borgia needed a way to advertise further his concern for the people whose loyalty he wanted.The story also embodies, for Machiavelli, the idea that cruelty can be well used, just as being merciful withholding such cruelty when a leader deems it needed may be less than merciful in its long term impact.Finally, you will get to see, throughout these lectures, the development of Machiavelli s reliance on history for its lessons, his role as a Renaissance Humanist thinker, and the emergence of his republican views, which still have tremendous influence today as we ask how republics start, grow, succeed, or fail.As Professor Cook notes, we are not going to agree with all of Machiavelli s answers But his commitment to asking the right questions to thinking, reflecting, and learning everything history has to teach us about the best ways to govern and safeguard the future was total.

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    One thought on “Machiavelli in Context (The Great Courses #4311)”

    1. I recently read a David Brooks column where he was comparing Machiavelli to the better parts of Ted Cruz. It struck me as an incoherent column. He clearly didn't understand who Machiavelli was beyond a comic book characterization, and I'm still searching for anything good to say about Ted Cruz. Anyways, it got me to thinking that I really didn't understand Machiavelli well enough to articulate my full disgust with that David Brooks column and that led me to this superb lecture and I'm glad for t [...]

    2. For many, the adjective "Machiavellian" conjures negative behavior patterns or even antisocial personality disorders (i.e. the ends justify the means). This meaning of the word does a disservice to the sixteenth century Italian writer who said that an effective leader is one who knows how to use cruelty well. In modern terms you might be a Machiavellian if you believe that order in society is better than chaos and that a forceful (sometimes despotic?) leader is essential to curing chaos. I could [...]

    3. The title of this is in fact its overarching thesis, and such a good one at that. Dr. Cook does and excellent job doing an overview of Machiavelli's surrounding times and immediate history to frame as much of both him and his thought as possible in such a short span of time. I had known that Machiavelli was more maligned than he deserved, but didn't know just how much. Cook provides some excellent topics for thought. I'm fascinated enough that I want to go back and read both Livy and The Discour [...]

    4. An incredibly excellent course. VERY highly recommended.Students usually read Machiavelli's "The Prince". It is short, and easily taught in a one semester course. Sadly, Machiavelli wrote a set of books, "Discourses" on the first 10 books of Livy's history of Rome, and also a set of books on the "Florentine Histories". These books are hardly ever taught and hardly ever read. To read the Discourses, it is worthwhile to have read Livy's histories so you have to read alot before you really understa [...]

    5. Was Machiavelli machiavellian? After listening to this interesting Great Course, I found out that Niccolo Machiavelli was actually a pretty interesting political thinker and was not nearly as machiavellian as I had thought. Professor William Cook narrates a fast paced and interesting series of lectures that cover Machiavelli's background, the history of Florence, Italy where he grew up, and three of the major works that Machiavelli wrote. Cook starts with The Prince (Lectures 5-11) which as all [...]

    6. Machiavelli's impact on our society is easily recognizable; the word Machiavellian is still in our dictionary. But, the impact he made isn't the impact people think he made. People think that Machiavelli's major contributions are phrases like "The ends justify the means" or "It is better [for leaders] to be feared than loved". However, these misquote, although not off base, do a disservice to the man many consider one of the first modern men. These lectures do a great job of analyzing his writin [...]

    7. Excellent overview Machiavelli, of particular interest to those who have only read The Prince, of which I'm guilty, as Machiavelli ultimately wasn't Machiavellian - tough luck becoming a byword for something you didn't actually support. I was surprised that given his views on republicanism that The Prince as satire wasn't brought up since it would have fit in pretty well with the Machiavellian thought as a whole, though Cook was making a point that Machiavelli felt that the ideas in The Prince w [...]

    8. Excellent summary and overview of the period and the writings. Dr. Cook was very enthusiastic about the material and easy to follow. In aprallel with this course, I read The Pince, The Discourses on Livy, and The Florentine Histories. While I think that Dr Cook did not cove some aspects ofinterpreting the writings in light of the 21st century, I do believe that he set the stage for people to work through that interpretation on their own.

    9. This course is one of the best in literary criticism. Machiavelli from inside out. It was a real pleasure to listen and the more I get to know Machiavelli the more I find it relevent today

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