Secrets of the Discourses

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  1. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Also, D II 6 (the 66th chapter) begins a discussion of "the cause of Rome's subjugation." D III 6 (the 99th chapter) is on conspiracies. D III 39 (the 132nd chapter) is the famous chapter on becoming a "knower of sites." 39 is of course a multiple of 13. This is the ONLY chapter in the book in which 33 and 13 coincide. See the note on Livy's discussion of Alexander, above.
     
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  2. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    EDIT: Please see post #44 below, which supersedes the now-deleted (incorrect) analysis.
     
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  3. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I made a mistake above. I 33 should not be on the list, but I 4 definitely should be. I am no longer so confident that III 36 should not be on the list. But that would make 34 chapters, not 33. So either I am reading the titles wrong or Strauss is having a little fun at my expense.
     


  4. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    To give you an idea of how far down the rabbit hole it is possible to go ...

    As noted, "authority" is a very important word for Strauss. Ch. III of Thoughts is all about "the problem of authority." Which is to say, the problem of religion, or why should man believe what he is being commanded to believe without sufficient evident reasons? Strauss reveals this theme slowly and never fully. One way he indicates it is by the extraordinary usage of "authority" in Ch. III. Staying just with that word in the singular, it appears 19 times in Ch. 1, 2 times in Ch. II, 14 times in Ch, IV but a whopping 108 times in Ch. III. (111 if you count the three instances of "counterauthority").

    As noted, the word occurs 33 times in the all important 4th paragraph of Ch. III. Well, interestingly, if you tally up all uses of the word that have "author" as a root, you find 33 total uses in Ch. I. There are six in Ch. II, 6+33=39, or 3x13. And if you tally up all instances "authority" in the singular in the book (ex-footnotes) you find 143 uses, or 11x13.

    Connected with this is the fact that the word "problem" appears 33 times in the book, and 11 times in the preface+introduction.
     
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  5. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    In connection with the above, note that for Nick, "19" sometimes means "modernity"--i.e., Christian modernity, his times--and sometimes "weakness." But this is really the same thing since he judges his times to be weak times. The headings of I 19, 38, and 57 and then II 15 (all 19 chapters apart) all contain the word "weak." Also, in all three Books, chapter 19 begins a section (or subsection, i.e., the "Tacitean subsection of Book III) on the characteristic features of his times.

    "Authority" in the singular appears 19 times in Ch. I of Thoughs and, in all its variants, 19 times in Ch. IV. The book, hence, begins and ends by, in effect, declaring "modernity" to be both "our authority" and also "weak."

    "17" means for Maimonides "nature." Does Nick use if for this? I don't know. Been puzzling over that one for a long time. He definitely uses it. 17 is, for instance, the central number of 33. Book II 17 is hence the central chapter of the central section, and also the central chapter simply of Book II. 17 is also at the center of a section in Book I and the center of a section or subsection in The Prince (depending on how you reckon, but clearly 15-19 form at least a subsection, as do 16-18, the only "concetric" sections of that book that I have yet found.) Note also that 16-18 are sections in both Books I and II of the Discourses and 16 begins the central section of Book III, which has 19 chapters.

    17 is also Biblically significant. I am not so well versed here but the point seems to be 1) 7 days to create the world + 2) the Ten Commandments. These are both considered "perfect numbers" in Biblical numerology (but not in math). 7 is the number of God's perfection (creation), 10 is of man's perfection, or the highest he can reach or best he can do (perfect obedience to God's law). So 7+10=17=the combined perfection of God and man, or "the universe," both physical and spiritual. But then you also have the wierd stuff about a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns. Not sure what to make of that.

    Will have to noodle that one more. I can't say for sure whether Nick is using Maimonides or just borrowing from a Biblical numerology which was swirling around in his time (e.g., Ficino), but there is no question that Strauss mixes Nick's and Moses' numerology in his own work. I hope to demonstrate this more later. But for now suffice to say that, in toto, Thoughts has 221 paragraphs, which is 13x17.

    Anyway, it's very clear that Nicky likes primes. The non-prime that he uses the most is clearly 33.

    Speaking of which, "Fabius" (or "Fabii") appears in Thoughts 33 times. "Fabius" is Machiavelli's frequent stand-in for himself, his model, if you will. Not the actual Fabii we encounter in Livy but the Fabii as reinterpreted by Machiavelli.
     
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  6. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I took a cursory look through Thoughts. Strauss never draws explicit attention to "17" the way he does to "13," "33" and others. The word "seventeen" appears only once, in a quote about the seventeenth century. Whenever the numeral "17" appears, it is always (apart of couse from page numbers, page cites and footnote markers) to cite a specific chapter in the works of Machiavelli (or Livy). All such citations appear in the footnotes; none are in the text.

    This is not conclusive but it does suggest that Strauss did not believe that "17" held much significance for Machiavelli.

    On the other hand, I find three references to "34" in the text--one to D I 34, the second to III 34 (which Strauss cites not as "III 34" but by specifing that it is the "34th chapter"), and one to the fact that in Machiavelli's little biography of Castruccio Castracani, Nick reports 34 of Castruccio's witty sayings. I also find a footnote (Ch. III no. 8) noting that three chapters of the Discourses (I 31, 34 and 48) have headings that contain 34 words. Which is perhaps slightly suggestive.
     


  7. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    All right. As Strauss notes, there are 39 (3x13) chapter headings that contain proper names. By my count, they are:

    I 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 22, 28, 31, 34, 35, 37, 40, 49, 60

    II 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 18, 19, 21, 23, 32, 33

    III 3, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 36, 49

    I think the meaning of this device is relatively clear. 13 is both the number of fortune or chance and also the number of Machiavelli himself, the number he identifies with his enterprise, which is the conquest of fortune or chance. Hence, I believe that by associating proper names with “13” he is indicating that these names are in a sense his creatures, his characters. They appear for his purposes in accordance with his plans. His book is not really an analysis of the past. It uses the past for his own purposes. We in fact see as we go through the Discourses that Nick uses Livy in just this way. The deeper implication will turn out to be that the authors of the Bible are no different.

    19 in Book I (Ch. 15 being central), 11 in Book II (18 is central) and 9 in Book III (23 central). Recall that 19 is the number of “weak modernity” and 11 is the number of religion. Yet another indicator of what Book II—which purports to be about the foreign affairs and wars of Rome (or, as Machiavelli says in I 1, the things “worked outside by public counsel” and in I 9, “militia”)—is really about. Book II is really about religion, Christianity, and spiritual warfare or propaganda.

    Also, just as with the headings that reference the past, the usage here declines as the book progresses. The point underscored here is that as our understanding progresses, we are to rely less and less on familiar names. We must come to understand on our own, which means understanding abstract principles that apply in all times and places, without recourse to the familiar.

    There is a high degree of overlap between the two lists: 32 chapters appear on both lists. (As an aside, for the moment I am counting the refer-to-the-past chapter title list as containing 34 even though Strauss says 33. I’ve asked some people “in the know” to help me with this problem. I don’t have an answer yet but I will keep you posted. Either we will nix one, conclude that Strauss made an “error” and then try to discern the reason for the error, or just put the mystery to one side for a while. Such mysteries CAN eventually be solved, trust me. It took me around 25 years to solve D I 52 but I did it.)

    In Book I, every single chapter on the past-list is also on the proper name list, whereas there are three on the proper name list but not on the past list (I 11, 22, and 40).

    In Book II, Ch 4 is on the past list but not the name list; 18 and 19 are on the name list but not the past list.

    In Book III, Ch. 32 is on the past list but not the name list; Ch. 3 and 25 are on the name list but not the past list.

    So, in order: I 11, 22, and 40; II 4, 18, and 19; III 3, 25, and 32—or 9 chapters total that are on only one of the lists. That’s three per Book. Ch. 18 is the central chapter in that list; it is also the central chapter among the nine that appear on the name list for Book II. In intervals they go from 11 to 18 to 24 to 14 to 1 to 17 to 22 to 7.

    Or, if you break it out this way:

    Past list but not name list: II 4; III 32. 121 chapters apart, or 11x11.

    Name list but not past list: I 11, 22, and 40; II 18 and 19; III 3 and 25. Seven total chapters, again, 18 is central. In intervals they go from 11 apart, to 18 to 38 to 1 to 17 to 22.
     


  8. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Everywhere I look I find something. In Strauss, "Jesus" is used six times and "Christ" 5 = 11. ("anti-Christ" is also used once.)

    "Bible" appears 11 times in the first chapter, zero in the second, 37 in the 3rd, and 17 in 4th, or 65 (5x13) times. And also 11 times in the notes. 11 is used twice to underscore that "11" is the number of the Bible. "17" is used, I believe, to indicate Strauss' fundamental smypathy with the Bible and with Maimonides, the greatest commentator on the Bible. Chapter 4 is specifically devoted to Strauss' critique of Machiavelli so it seems fitting that he would, in that chapter, associate the Bible with a "positive" number.

    When you turn to "Biblical" it gets interesting. It's in the Intro once and Chs. 1 and 2 5 times each, or 11. Then it's in Ch. 3 48 times, Ch. 4 35 times and in the notes 10 times. Well, lo, that's 104 (8x13). And it gets better. In Ch. 3, three of those instances are the phrase "anti-Biblical' and one is "non-Biblical." Take those out and you get 44 uses in that chapter, or 4x11. And, in the notes, there is one "anti-Biblical". So take out those five from the list and you get 99.

    Aaaaaand, in addition, 17 "Bible"s in Ch. 4 + 35 "Biblical"s = 52, or 4x13.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013


  9. danniersi

    danniersi New Member

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    yes,Even though you asked not to, I still must thank you.
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Has anyone read Mansfield’s latest in the New Criterion?

    http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Machiavelli-s-enterprise-7706

    It tripped me up in several spots. The difficulty (for me) appears to be the same one I encountered many years ago in the intro to Mansfield’s Prince translation (written in 1985). The para beginning at the bottom of p. x. I believe the point made there and the one puzzling me in the article is the same.

    To wit: in interpreting Prince 15, M points out that for both the classical tradition and the Bible, doing the right thing is not enough; it must be done for the right reason. That is clear enough in Aristotle and, I believe, for Christianity. I am less convinced that it is true for Old Testament Judaism but leave that aside.

    He goes on to say that because of this requirement men must make “a profession of good” in which the motive is explained. I don’t quite follow that. The profession itself could just as easily be a lie, no? See, e.g., Prince 18. Indeed, this points to one of the deeper layers of Machiavelli’s specific criticism of Christianity (as opposed to religion on general or even the Bible). Unlike pagan religion or the Jewish emphasis on law, Christianity, Nick says, punishes men for thought crimes. It is tantamount to tyranny over the mind.

    Anyway, Mansfield goes on to say that absent such a profession, morality would be indistinguishable from outward conformity or submission to force. Again, I would say that is better reframed as “absent genuine inner conviction” rather than absent a profession, because the profession could always be a lie. And there is no way to prove inner conviction, so this problem never really goes away. For Aristotle, the only person who knows whether this or that man is virtuous is the man himself because no one else has infallible access to his heart.

    His next sentence is simply puzzling: “But professions of good could not accompany moral actions in isolation from each other; they would have to be elaborated so that moral actions would be consistent with each other and the life of a moral person would form a whole.” It’s been more than 20 years since I first read that sentence and my understanding of Machiavelli (and Strauss, and Mansfield) has deepened considerably, but I still don’t understand that sentence.

    “Such an elaboration requires an effort of imagination, since the consistency we see tells us only of the presence of outward conformity …”

    Again, the outward conformity problem seems to depend on the presence or absence of inner conviction. I don’t see how the “profession” or this “elaboration” (I’m assuming the two are different yet related, though I don’t know how) solve that problem. Because, again, they could be lies.

    “… and the elaboration extends over a society, because it is difficult to live a moral life by oneself;” OK, fair enough, I would go so far as to say that it is IMPOSSIBLE to live a moral life by oneself. I mean, which of Aristotle’s 11 moral virtues can be practiced alone? Courage, in (say) charging a wild beast, perhaps, but that strikes me as a form of courage devoid of moral context.

    “Hence morality requires the construction of an imagined republic or principality, such as Plato’s Republic or Augustine’s City of God.”

    OK, perhaps I am saying the same thing in different ways here, but that is not what I understood those books to be. The classical best regime emerges from the careful consideration of what justice is, stripped from all conventionality and opinion, what the pure demands of justice abstracted from all other considerations would be. This of course requires imagination since it has never been seen in real life. But morality itself does not require such imagination—it exists in the nature of man. It requires reason to discern and to find the real thing underneath the opinions, but is that the same as imagination? Similarly, imagination is required for Augustine because the City of God is not seen by men on earth but must be imagined. Not because it is not real but because it is not of this world and men have (mental) access to the next world only through Scripture and imagination.

    Mansfield revisits this idea (whatever it is) in the new piece. His method is a close analysis of the phrase “effectual truth” (which, he notes, appears only once in all of Machiavelli’s writings) and some of the surrounding words.

    Here is necessary to pause and point out an obscurity in Machiavelli himself. Nick says that a man who wishes to make a profession of good in all regards must come to ruin among so many who are not good. I confess I always thought I knew what this meant because I have glossed over the word “profession.” But now when I focus on that word, I realize that I do not know what the sentence means.

    If you read the sentence as I had been reading it—viz., that a man who always “does the right thing” or always acts morally according to Aristotle and the Bible must come to ruin—then it makes sense. That’s aside from the question of whether it is actually true. Clearly it can’t be literally true—it only takes one example to disprove. Surely there have been moral men who did not come to ruin. Nick is exaggerating to show the danger: if you’re the only scrupulous one in a pack of wolves, you’re not so much virtuous as you are a sucker, prey. For every example of a moral man who did not come to ruin, there must be at least one—perhaps more—who did in fact come to ruin. Also, the implicit message here is that making everyone good, which would be the moral way to solve this problem, is impossible. Neither classical high-mindedness nor Biblical carrots and sticks were able to accomplish that. Immorality and the immoral will always be here and Nick is saying that you have to choose whether you want to be a predator or prey. There is no via media. This is in keeping with his advice in D I 6 to choose conquest over the attempt at quiet because it’s more “honorable.”

    However, the above paragraph does not exactly interpret Nick’s sentence as he wrote it. He does not say “He who wishes always to be good,” he says “he who wishes always to make a PROFESSION of good.” Now, again, why can’t the profession be a lie? As he recommends explicitly in Ch. 18. It would seem that a man can indeed make a profession of good in all things, and still turn to evil when necessary, and so not come to ruin.

    But that is not what Nick says. He says that a man who wishes to make a profession of good in all regards must come to ruin. This implies, I suppose, that the profession is genuine. That is, the man we have in mind here 1) acts morally. 2) does so for the right reason and 3) makes a truthful profession of that reason. However, the sentence explicitly mentions only the profession. Why is that? Also, I am inferring that the profession is genuine and not a lie because if were a lie, then the man (on Nick’s terms) would not necessarily come to ruin.

    Now let’s turn to Mansfield’s new piece. He says that for Nick “morality must be judged from what happens if you practice it.” Yes, absolutely. If the outcome is bad, your decision was bad. If you are ruined as a result of “doing the right thing” then ipso facto it was not the right thing. The sole standard of judgment here is worldly success.

    He continues: “Those who do good [under the traditional understanding] rely on others not to take advantage of them, indeed to return that good in gratitude so that do-gooders will not ‘come to ruin.’” Again, yes. This is in keeping with the pack of wolves analogy above. The implicit premise here is that being moral exposes you, it’s a potential vulnerability, which you rely on others not to exploit.

    Then: “The many who do not write or read but merely live by moral principle implicitly rely on the argument of philosophy or religion to show convincingly that they can afford to be moral.” Yes, I can see this clearly.

    Then: “Good deeds must be accompanied with an explanation, a ‘profession of good.’” Why?

    “And because a deed that appears good may be done with evil intent, the doer needs to profess the good he does as well as perform it.” This seems something like a repetition. He says there must a profession twice but only the second time does he offer any kind of explanation. That being that an apparent good deed may be done with evil intent: say, saving a little old lady from danger in order to gain her trust so you can rob her. OK, but what good is the profession in such cases, since it can simply be a lie? It’s unclear why Mansfield uses these two sentences. It seems like the prior one could be deleted. It simply states a fact—a profession is need—without explanation. The second repeats the statement of fact but also provides an explanation (however unsatisfactory). In Straussian hermeneutics, when one sees a repetition one must look to the seemingly insignificant changes. I’m not picking up on anything this time.

    “But also because evil may appear good, no visible evidence will suffice to prove the intent of the doer …” Right—but, then, what good is the profession? Surely it does not count as “visible evidence” nor can it be assumed to be a necessarily reliable account of the man’s inner conviction. Again, what’s to stop the profession from being a lie? And why does doing the right thing for the right reason require a profession?

    “… and his profession must appeal to some invisible principle or realm” Why? Isn’t it enough that his profession merely be true? Or forget the profession. Isn’t it enough for a moral act to qualify as genuinely moral if it conforms both to the substance of morality AND is done for the right reason? Or is Mansfield’s point here that “the right reason” is, for Machiavelli, inevitably an “invisible principle”? I.e., there are no right reasons.

    “it must rely on imagination to guarantee its existence.” Why? The “it” refers back to the profession. Why should it rely on imagination to guarantee its existence? Read literally, the “profession” is merely man’s statement explaining his deed. Its existence is a fact as soon as he states it. That doesn’t mean the content is true, necessarily, but the statement—the profession—exists. Is Mansfield here using “profession” as synonymous with “reason for doing ___”? That is, the profession is not merely or even primarily the stated reason for doing the particular act but is primarily the ACTUAL reason for doing the act. In either case, why does it need imagination to guarantee its existence?

    “In sum, for Machiavelli the foundation for morality, what makes it reliable, what justifies taking the risk of coming to ruin by doing a moral deed, is a ‘profession’—a pretense of philosophy or religion.” Here we have a definition of “profession”—Mansfield’s account of Machiavelli’s definition of profession. It is a “pretense of philosophy or religion.” Does that mean that Machiavelli fails to understand past thinkers as they understood themselves? Because certainly they did not see the profession, nor the underlying reason for good action, as mere pretense. Or is Machiavelli simply saying that these people were deluded? The latter at a minimum.

    In any case, beyond my difficulties with each clause, I fail to see the logic chain here which takes Mansfield from A to B to C.

    “A profession of good ‘in all regards’ would have to be the good society as a whole, not merely isolated good actions taken by themselves.” I think I understand this and I think it is true. But is it not out of context? Machiavelli uses the phrase “in all regards” when referring to one man—he cannot be good all the time without facing ruin. I agree with Mansfield’s sentence as written—it again refers back to the wolf pack point—but he seems to have changed the terms from what Nick said. A man absolutely can make a profession of good in all regards, or “do the right thing” all the time, so long as he is prepared to face potentially unpleasant consequences. It’s only if doing the right thing is never to incur a negative consequence, that Mansfield’s formulation would be true.

    From here, Mansfield goes to imagined republics. Again, the logic chain is not evident to me.

    Then Mansfield turns to “effectual truth.” What does it mean? I always thought it had a twofold meaning. The first is, the truth as it appears “on the ground” in actual practice. That is, the imagined republics held up the truest truths, arrived at through dialectic. These truths—let’s specify here the true morality—may be truly true, but because of the flawed nature of man, they are not always practiced or adhered to. There is a substantial gap between what men ought to do and what they actually do. A man who exclusively does the former will come to ruin among those who do the latter. The effectual truth, then, is the truth that describes actual practice and not ideals. This much is clear from P 15, I think.

    The second meaning must be inferred from recourse to other passages, above all P 25. The effectual truth is the truth that is meant to have an effect, to move the world, to conquer fortune. This is in contrast with the ancient understanding of truth, which is not instrumental. The truth does not do anything. It understands, but it does not change anything. It has no program.

    Mansfield accepts both of these definitions and adds a third. Let’s trace his route to that 3rd definition.

    “It appears, first, that the world is a whole, ‘the whole world.’” OK, sure.

    “Neither Plato nor the Christians would have admitted that the world, with all its imperfections, can be a whole; because of its imperfections the world has to be supplemented by supra-mundane or superhuman intelligence and power.” For Christianity, surely that’s correct. But for Plato? Is not “the world” in the sense of “the universe” a whole? Or for Plato must “the whole” incorporate the ideas? Hence if Machiavelli’s whole is merely the physical universe, it cannot be the same. I suppose that must be the answer.

    “Yet ‘in the world there is no one but the vulgar,’ meaning that the truth must eventually come out so as to be appreciated by ordinary men, though what they appreciate as true may not be true. I don’t follow this at all. The quoted phrase is from P 18 and in context is used to say that a prince can always get away with lying because the vulgar are taken in by appearances, and the vulgar are all there is. There it seems to mean precisely the opposite of what Mansfield says: the truth is under no necessity at all to eventually come out! Lies can be piled on top of lies and maintained forever.

    “In Machiavelli’s ‘effectual truth,’ the truth is not forever hidden but shown in its effects.” Why? Doesn’t Machiavelli in fact presume that the full truth is knowable only to a few? And that in fact his whole apparatus of “indirect government,” which Mansfield develops at length, is based on this insight? That the truth can’t be widely known? It can govern the world in a way the classics had denied, but it still won’t be fully know to any but a few. The people will always be lied to, to some extent.

    “Effectual truth means not only that the truth will have an effect, a consequence, but also that its effect will show.” As opposed to what?

    “Those who try to live by a profession of good will fail and be shown to fail.” I keep coming back to this but why so? What about Ferdinand, the implicit subject example of P 18? He made his profession of good, it was false, he acted evilly, and he prospered.

    I will stop there. But much else besides was puzzling.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013


  11. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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  12. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Here is the provisional or "surface" plan of The Prince:

    I.Types of principalities (1-11)
    II.The prince and his enemies (12-14)
    III.The prince and his subjects or friends (15-23)
    IV.Prudence and chance (24-26)

    It breaks down further like this:

    I.Types of Principalities (1-11)

    A.Introduction (1)
    B.Hereditary (2)
    C.New (3-9)

    i.Mixed; conquest (3-5)

    1.Acquisition generally (3)
    2.Similar v. different provinces—language, customs, etc. (3)
    3.Types of states that are acquired (4-5)

    a.Feudal states (4)
    b.Absolute monarchies (4)
    c.Republics (5)

    ii.New (6-9)

    1.Wholly new; new prince, new state; founding de novo (6-7)

    a.Own arms and virtue; founding with an occasion (6)
    b.Other’s arms and fortune; founding with no occasion (7)

    2.New prince, existing state (tyranny; 8-9)

    a.Crime & violence (8)
    b.Civil; with support of the people or the great; bloodless (9)

    D.Measurement of all princes’ forces (10)
    E.Ecclesiastical principalities (11)

    II.The prince and his enemies; arms (12-14)

    A.Arms generally (12)
    B.Specific types of arms (12-13)

    i.Mercenary (12)
    ii.Auxiliaries (13)
    iii.Mixed (13)
    iv.One’s own (13)

    C.What a prince should do; science; the “art of war” (14)

    III.The prince and his subjects and friends (15-23)

    A.Qualities of the prince; morality, or what used to be called the virtues (15-19)

    i.Intro; why the tradition is wrong; effectual truth (15)
    ii.Three qualities (16-18)

    1.Liberality and parsimony (16)
    2.Cruelty and mercy (17)
    3.Faith (18)

    iii.All the rest; avoiding contempt and hatred; conspiracies (19)

    B.Policies and personnel (20-23)

    i.Ten (domestic?) policies (20-21)

    1.First five (20)

    a.Disarming subjects
    b.Parties
    c.Sow enmities and crush them
    d.Make use of suspect men
    e.Fortresses

    2.Second five (21)

    a.Give rare examples/great enterprises
    b.Be a true friend and a true enemy; avoid the middle way
    c.Show himself a lover of virtues and honor excellence in an art
    d.Encourage trade and agriculture
    e.Keep the people busy with feasts and spectacles

    ii.Personnel (22-23)

    1.Secretaries/ministers generally (22)
    2.Avoiding flatterers (23)

    IV.Prudence and chance (24-26)

    A.Explaining modern failures in light of the above; when not fortune but men’s failures are the cause (24)
    B.Fortune, extent to which it can be conquered, acting with the times (25)
    C.Putting all this into practice (26)
     


  13. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    "Fortresses" throughout The Prince and the Discourses means the tendency of philosophy and religion to retreat to an "ivory tower," to cut off from the world--this world--to become a self-centered and self-reinforcing cult. The charge is levelled most heavily at ancient philosophy's "strategy" of keeping its distance from political life and engagement from the world but is also made against religion's takeover of philosophy. Hence "fortresses" in The Prince appears in only one chapter (20) and 13 times in that chapter. It is used 66 times (plus once in the title of II 24) in Book II of the Discourses, THE book about Christianity and spiritual warfare. "Fortress" (or "fortresses") also appears in Thoughts eleven times.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2013


  14. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Strauss notes on p. 90 of Thoughts that "only 33 chapter headings [in the Discourses] refer to the past by the tense in which they are framed."

    These are, by my count:

    I 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 28, 31, 34, 35, 37, 49, 60

    II 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 21, 23, 32, 33

    III 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 32, 36, 49

    Except that is 34 chapters, not 33. Has Strauss made an "error"? Or have we miscounted? Double and triple checking, we see that if we have miscounted, the reason is not obvious. All 34 do seem to refer to the past by tense (as opposed to, say, I 11 which refers to the past by referencing “the Romans” but which contains no verbs).

    If indeed we have caught Strauss in an error, we must first assume that it is intentional and ask the purpose. The content of that “error” would have been to change an actual 34 to a purported 33, in other words to draw our attention away from 34 and onto 33. Why would he do that?

    Strauss elsewhere makes much of 33—he almost never draws any attention to 34. I find, as noted, three references to "34" in the text--one to D I 34, the second to III 34 (which Strauss cites not as "III 34" but by specifying that it is the "34th chapter" of the third book), and one to the fact that in Machiavelli's little biography of Castruccio Castracani, Nick reports 34 of Castruccio's witty sayings. I also find a footnote (Ch. III no. 8) noting that three chapters of the Discourses (I 31, 34 and 48) have headings that contain 34 words. Which is perhaps slightly suggestive. Most of Castruccio’s purported sayings are taken from Diogenes Laertius’ little bios of the ancient philosophers. So perhaps “34” is associated with philosophy generally and with ancient philosophy specifically.

    I made some comments above about the religious significance of “17.” To add to that, there appears to be a philosophic significance as well. I have noted that for Maimonides, 17 stands for nature. This Strauss explicitly says. Apparently, this stems from an older tradition. In the Greek alphabet, there are 17 consonants and 7 vowels. Hence, in the numerology of Greek philosophy, “17” stands for nature and “7” stands for convention. That is, only man—who is responsible for convention—speaks. His speech creates convention. Nature does not speak and the vowels represent the human contribution to the eternal given

    So Nick’s choice of associating “17” with Castruccio appears to be significant. Castruccio, as Strauss notes, is a modern man who at every turn preferred the life of a soldier to that of the priest. As Strauss notes, there is a central section (not literally) of quotes which run from 17-21. That they begin at 17 is significant. E.g., the single quote from Dante is #33 (incidentally, he died at age 44, just like Philip II of Macedon, Scipio Major and Lorenzo the Magnificent). In the center (19) of that sequence is the sole quote from Aristotle (D.L. V 1.20). Not incidentally, it involves Aristotle saying that he has not listened to someone who talked too much: Machiavelli does not listen to Aristotle. As Strauss notes, surrounded on all sides are quotes from various classical atheists, conventionalists, and materialists. He actually uses the verb “imprisoned” at one point.

    The point of the Castruccio quotes, it seems to me, is that the bad old philosophy (Aristotle) is surrounded by the good old philosophy which points the way to the new philosophy simply. There is value in the classics but not in its authoritative tradition, which is weak (19).

    So all that by way of explaining why Nick uses 34 (or 2x17). Ch. 17 in The Prince is a case for cruelty: cruelty and nature are connected somehow.

    That was a long digression. To return to our matter, if this IS an error, it is Strauss drawing our attention AWAY from 34 (philosophy, nature) and TOWARD 33 (Christianity). Perhaps then the “mistake” is meant to say to students, pay less attention to Nick’s philosophy (which is corrupt but beguiling) and more attention to his on religion (which is dangerous).

    BUT—I now have it from a genuine authority that one of the 34 chapters I cited does not belong, and it is indeed I 6, as I had speculated. The conditional tense here is decisive: NM uses Rome to speak of the present, of a permanent possibility.

    So … 33, again, is the number of Christianity specifically (11 is the number of religion) so by this device Nick indicates that for him, the decisive event or fact about the past is Christianity. (In the same way that he indicates by giving Book II 33 chapters, that Book II is THE book about Christianity; all three of Dante’s books have 33 cantos each).

    There are three explicit criticisms of Christianity in the Discourses: I preface, II 2 and III 1. In the first, Machiavelli raises the question of why the moderns (that is, the people of his time) imitate the ancients in law, medicine and art (which are incidentally three of the four faculties of the medieval university) but not in politics. Machiavelli replies with a wonderfully twisty sentence that appears on the surface to deny that Christianity is the cause but which, read carefully, affirms that Christianity is indeed the cause. Men believe that the order of the world was changed by the incarnation of God as man, by Christ’s new revelation and new covenant. The new covenant overrides the moral and political teaching of the ancient pagans. To this Nick responds with essentially Aristotle’s argument on the eternity of the world and of the natural order (see also II 5).

    So, the fact that “33” and “the past” are linked is partly for this reason. But there is another reason. For Machiavelli, “moderns” always means “Christians.” He is the founder of modernity, but he must introduce his new modes and orders gingerly, for “it is a dangerous thing to make oneself head of a new thing that pertains to many” (III 35). He means to replace the Christian moderns with his moderns, the new moderns, the adherents of his new modes and orders. He means to put Christianity decisively in the past, to make it a thing of the past.

    Anyway, here is the revised list:

    I 1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 14, 15, 28, 31, 34, 35, 37, 49, 60

    II 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 21, 23, 32, 33

    III 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 32, 36, 49

    Note that there are 15 such chapter headings in Book I, 10 in Book II and 8 in Book III. Machiavelli’s references to the past decline as the book progresses. As we make progress as readers, we are to rely less on the past and more on Machiavelli’s new modes and orders. By the time we reach Book III nearly all the chapter headings (41) speak not of the past through tense, and if you take out the two others that have proper names (both Roman, hence ancient) but also don’t appear on the list of chapters framed in the past tense, then the number is 39. In keeping with this, the number of chapters whose titles contain proper names also declines from Book to Book. But more on that later.

    Anyway, returning to our matter, of the 33 titles that refer to the past, Book II, Ch 2 is the 17th (!) and central instance. I.e., the central chapter among the three explicit criticisms of Christianity.

    I note also that of the 15 titles in Book I, 15 is central. In this chapter, NM tells a story from Livy X in which the Samnites used terrifying religious rites in order to fortify the hearts of their soldiers before a desperate final (or nearly final) battle with the Romans. They lost anyway. Religion is for losers? Terrifying fears (of hell?) are ultimately ineffective?

    Finally, note as well the density/sequences in which these chapters appear. Many, though not all, such instances appear in clumps. There will be several in a row and then a gap of many chapters before another. There are several sequences, most of which occur within sections: I 1-4, 12-15, 34-35; II 1-4, 6-7, 32-33; III 20-24. In fact, only one of them (II 32-33) occurs across a section.

    I have not really sorted all this out, but note the parallels that are obvious: the early chapters of both Books I and II are explicitly about the past. The first are about the origins of cities in general (theoretical question) and of Rome in particular (historical question). In the second Book, the parallel chapters is an apparently historical question—how Rome acquired its empire—that points to a concern that is both historical and theoretical, what Strauss calls “the reduction of the West to eastern servility.” We need to learn not just THAT it happened (historical) but HOW it happened (theoretical).

    D I 12-15 all occur within the explicit section on the Roman religion (I 11-15).

    III 20-23 occur within what Strauss calls the “Tacitean subsection,” (III 19-23). Interestingly, this parallels I 11-15 in certain ways. The former is a formal section, while the latter is merely a subsection. But both are five chapters long. Both begin with a chapter whose title does not refer to the past through tense and then are followed by four chapters whose titles DO refer to the past through tense. I believe this is meant to show readers that III 19-23 in some way parallels I 11-15, i.e., that it is somehow about religion.

    The “Tacitean subsection” unfolds as follows. Machiavelli attributes to Tacitus a “golden sentence” which is in fact not found in Tacitus but which Nick himself made up. Basically he “quotes” Tacitus saying something very harsh, but Nick himself professes to believe the opposite, i.e., a humane principle. Then over the course of the subsection he presents the spectacle of himself being “converted” from sweetness to harshness.

    Actually, this will be the last point: of the 33 chapters taken numerically, the numbers match up from one book to another in eight cases: 1 (I and II), 2 (I and II), 3 (I and II), 4 (I and II), 21 (II and III), 23 (II and III), 32 (II and III), and 49 (I and III). No single number is use in all three books. 49 is the only one that appears in Books I and III. 1-4 are in I and II while 21, 22, and 32 are in II and III.

    No, really, THIS will be the last point. In all three books, the last chapter title refers to the past. In Books I and II, the last chapter of each forms a single section on Machiavelli’s enterprise and his own role therein. In Book III, Ch. 49 culminates the longest such section (35-49) in the book.
     


  15. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    In light of post 44 above, we must now revisit post 37.

    The analysis of the 39 chapters containing proper names is correct. However, the comparison of the two lists is valid only if the "past list" is taken to be 34, not 33. If, as amened and true to Strauss's original comment, the correct list has 33 items, then the comparison breaks down like this:

    There is still a high degree of overlap between the two lists: 31 chapters appear on both lists. These are I 1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 14, 15, 28, 31, 34, 35, 37, 49, 60; II 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 21, 23, 32, 33; III 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 36, 49. II 1 is the 16th or central.

    In Book I, every single chapter on the past-list is also on the proper name list, whereas there are four on the proper name list but not on the past list (I 6, 11, 22, and 40).

    In Book II, Ch 4 is on the past list but not the name list; 18 and 19 are on the name list but not the past list.

    In Book III, Ch. 32 is on the past list but not the name list; Ch. 3 and 25 are on the name list but not the past list.

    So, in order: I 6, 11, 22, and 40; II 4, 18, and 19; III 3, 25, and 32—or 10 chapters total that are on only one of the lists; four in Book I and three each in Books II and III. In intervals they go from 5 to 11 to 18 to 24 to 14 to 1 to 17 to 22 to 7.

    Or, if you break it out this way:

    Past list but not name list: II 4; III 32. two chapters, 121 chapters apart, or 11x11.

    Name list but not past list: I 6, 11, 22, and 40; II 18 and 19; III 3 and 25. 8 total chapters, from 5 apart, to 11 to 18 to 38 to 1 to 17 to 22
     


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