Walker's Machiavelli - Leo Strauss

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<p>Review: Walker's Machiavelli Author(s): Leo Strauss Reviewed work(s): The Discourses of Niccol Machiavelli by Leslie J. Walker Source: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Mar., 1953), pp. 437-446 Published by: Philosophy Education Society Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20111772 Accessed: 19/04/2010 17:02Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=pes. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p> <p>Philosophy Education Society Inc. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Review of Metaphysics.</p> <p>http://www.jstor.org</p> <p>WALKER'SLeo</p> <p>MACHIAVELLIStrauss</p> <p>The Discourses an Introduction 1950.</p> <p>of Niccol? and Notes 585 &amp; 2 vols.</p> <p>Machiavelli, by Leslie 390 pp.</p> <p>Translated J. Walker,</p> <p>from</p> <p>the</p> <p>Italian</p> <p>with</p> <p>S. J. Yale</p> <p>University</p> <p>Press,</p> <p>$15.00.</p> <p>a of the Discorsi with Walker his translation prefaces as introduction in which he sets forth his interpretation long well as his criticism He regards it as of Machiavelli's views. was "the most influential that Machiavelli of writers possible on is thus far seen" has that the world (6). He politics consists if not certain that Machiavelli's partly, originality in the discovery of a new method (80-82). The primarily, laws" is to discover of the new method purpose "empiricalwhich express relations "between causes and effects, i.e.</p> <p>and harmful consequences, new method leads the beneficial" (2, 63, 69). Accordingly, tel which "are always and maxims" up to "generalizations are that This does not mean ends presupposed. eological": i.e. accepts, Machiavelli presupposes, any ends: he advises "what to do in order to realize their aims, be they politicians he "He advises all and sundry because what they may." is universal desires to convince his readers that his new method amounts to in its applicability" saying (72-73, 69, 118). This a part of his new method is not merely that Machiavelli's which achievement but its core. The method epoch-making Machiavelli invented is "the inductive method." Machiavelli about it (92). That used it long before Bacon "philosophized" a gen as consists in proving Machiavelli method by practiced or undesirable causes and desirable eral regarding proposition to a all effects by reference "collection of examples judicious on the same "The (85, 82-83). point" standpoint bearing to this method" is then "the is basic of which standpoint as from "the standpoint of moral expediency" distinguished between human actions and their the novelty feels that his contention Walker regarding is in need of He asserts that of Machiavelli's method proof. instances was far more "the of considering negative practice</p> <p>43?</p> <p>Leo</p> <p>Strauss</p> <p>used by St. Thomas than it was by extensively Aquinas who is but a tyro in this "But neither Machiavelli, respect." nor any other mediaeval St. Thomas thinker... [proves his] theorems similar instances and taken from ancient by citing to say of other differences contemporary history," nothing between their procedure and that of Machiavelli (84). Walker some of them admits that "there are... similarities in method, But "there and Aristotle. quite striking," between Machiavelli are also marked differences." Politics contains "Aristotle's or maxims at least as many, if not more, than the precepts of Machiavelli, cite even Discourses but rarely does Aristotle a to show that in historical they would practice single example Further cites several..." whereas Machiavelli work, invariably to Aristotle's, in contradistinction more, Machiavelli's method, of ancient It was "to his reading is "essentially historical." not to his that of Aristotle, and apparently historians," study of its in history and his realization interest "Machiavelli's was to the due" (86-89). undoubtedly politician significance then seem that the new method It would by virtue emerged and Aristotle's between of a synthesis philosophy political"history," i.e. coherent records of past events.</p> <p>set forth very Walker does clearly what he under stands by "the standpoint When he speaks of of expediency." he gives the impression Machiavelli's that, from the method, one considers of the suitability of expediency, standpoint means to any able or willing without ends, being presupposed to But in other places between good and bad ends. distinguish at least in the Discorsi, Machiavelli does Walker admits that, In accordance and bad ends (119). between good distinguish with Walker this strand of his interpretation, with disagrees those who hold that "what Machiavelli calls virtu ... is tech not the same meaning nique pure and simple": virtu has normally as virtus in to the and connotes in particular "devotion Livy common Yet "there are difficulties and also some good." are Cesare and Agathocles Severus, exceptions." Borgia as "virtuous," in these cases Machiavelli described although by or at to the common "devotion is definitely excluded" good The meaning least "not relevant" of "expediency" (100-102). would However then seem to remain obscure. this may be, it to Machiavelli is perfectly clear that according "in the sphere</p> <p>Walker's of politics"wrong"</p> <p>Machiavelli end what</p> <p>439is morally</p> <p>certainly103).</p> <p>"a good</p> <p>justifies</p> <p>(120-121,</p> <p>has to say about is what Walkej interesting Especially He admits that towards attitude Machiavelli's religion. of the for the religion admiration had a greater Machiavelli was "an out-and than for Christianity, Romans nay, that he are or that his "writings out pagan from thoroughly pagan" that Yet he also says in the same context start to finish." He speaks doctrine. did not reject "any" Christian Machiavelli 11 Ch. "frank in Principe, of Machiavelli's recognition watches that providence ecclesiastical ["Of principalities"] estates of over the Church not but over the temporal merely that he sees "no reason to suppose the Pope." Accordingly, to in his ever led him the Church his paganism repudiate Walker attaches decisive heart of hearts" (117; cf. 3, 7). 11. It is in the to Principe, Ch. light of this importance in which Machiavelli the passages that he understands chapter Fortuna is God. and its "purposiveness": speaks about fortune accused of being an atheist, "has been frequently Machiavelli or either in the Discourses of atheism but I find no evidence he quotes, this In support of his contention in The Prince." statement the humanists: about of Burckhardt "They easily name of atheists indifferent if they showed themselves got the the Church; but not one to and spoke freely against religion a formal, to profess, or dared of them ever professed, philo atheism" all this one From (78-80; my italics). sophical the following could easily derive in order to know suspicion: one about the truth of what Machiavelli thought religion, concern the teaching of the Principe need only know whether was meant or ing ecclesiastical principalities jo seriously cularly. is very far from Walker all that Machiavelli approving in the Discorsi. He begins that he says "by stating plainly" "the famous principle that the end the means" rejects justifies "root and branch, and regards it, together with its corollaries, as most Yet he believes that it is only fair to (2). pernicious" not "from the criticize Machiavelli, of morality," standpoint " of but "from the standpoint "because he himself expediency to and it is the his expediency only criterion which appeals to use" method More allows him than that: the novel (8).</p> <p>44? which question the question Machiavelli</p> <p>Leo</p> <p>Strauss</p> <p>? political things as consequences, regarding distinguished from the moral conduct of political and political in worth, or the the political stitutions, consequences question regarding "is extremely conduct ? of moral and of the utmost interesting The criticism of Machiavelli should therefore importance." of his answer, that answer limit itself to an examination being conduct ruin (84, 104). sometimes leads to political that moral tries to prove that immoral conduct never Walker Accordingly leads to political advantage (104-114). is not the first to contend that Machiavelli's Walker or in the discovery achievement consists chiefly exclusively of a new method. In fact, it would appear that the view about a vague which Machiavelli predominates compromise today is the view which Walker and the historicist between adopts which Walker of Machiavelli's rejects. thought interpretation of the interpretation At any rate, these two interpretations ? as a "scientist" and the historicist Machiavelli interpretation addresses to the? constitute today the most massive obstacles to an under</p> <p>of his himself Walker writes that standing thought. "Machiavelli says expressly very little" about method (135). be adduced it would On the basis of the evidence by Walker, to say that Machiavelli more accurate about says nothing The only passage quoted by Walker which method. be might to refer to a new method is a statement in the Preface thought our translator to Book I of the Discorsi which renders as follows: "I have decided to enter upon a new way; as yet un</p> <p>to mean trodden by any one else," and which he interprets "a new way and a new method" But the (82). "way" which to take is as little a "method" as was has decided Machiavelli in search of unknown embarked the way on which Columbus seas and lands. Machiavelli set out to discover, not "new ways as Walker ed ordini nuovi. and methods," translates, but modi Modus Thomas et ordo is the Latin taxis (cf. translation of Aristotle's on Politics, liber IV., lectio I). Machiavelli i289a2-6, not a new method then sets out to discover, of studying but new political in regard political things, "arrangements" to both structures will and policies. Walker perhaps urge the or next to of Machiavelli's saying nothing irrelevancy nothing on the of his method, about his method, and the novelty</p> <p>Walker's</p> <p>Machiavelli</p> <p>441</p> <p>was not a that Machiavelli I have philosopher (93). ground means no of knowing what Walker understands legitimate by a But he will certainly that Machiavelli admit philosopher.was a man who must be assumed to have known what he was</p> <p>to in contradistinction is it not true that Machiavelli, in cites several examples in Aristotle invariably particular, or not to show the result of order the adopting adopting or he recommends? The way, as institutions policies which which Machiavelli untrodden enters, else, upon yet by anyone and that the institutions of leads to the discovery policies can be and to be imitated modern classical antiquity by ought as a whole is to liberate men man: the purpose of the Discorsi that the institutions and policies from the error of believing cannot be imitated and ought not to be of classical antiquity man. is com Machiavelli imitated by modern Accordingly, or to show in each case that a institution policy of given pelled to be therefore the ancients was good imitated), (and ought a modern is bad, and that sometimes that its modern equivalent state or individual did act as the ancients did (and therefore can be imitated that the ancient man). practice by modern these three does not prove in Machiavelli points explicitly at least one case for each, one of the every by citing example reasons At any rate, he is that he was not a pedant. being not because several examples," forced to "cite invariably he and especially from Aristotle, but from the ancients, deviates a to combat which did not he is forced because prejudicehamper the ancients. Furthermore, Machiavelli states ex</p> <p>doing. But</p> <p>of new modes and orders discovery (even is "dangerous" I, (Discorsi, only relatively new) to state novel It is less dangerous beginning). teachings by means and citing examples stories ? stories ? telling telling than by them in the form of which instruct silently, stating plicitly if they that are the"maxims or generalizations." One must therefore investigate</p> <p>whether</p> <p>cited do not convey examples by Machiavelli are said to the maxim which prove. beyond they something In Discorsi the difficulty of discusses III, 18,Machiavelli thethe enemy's "present and near" actions. He</p> <p>understanding</p> <p>cites four examples. errors in recognizing</p> <p>All</p> <p>of</p> <p>them</p> <p>deal</p> <p>the enemy's</p> <p>"present</p> <p>with and</p> <p>cases near"</p> <p>where actions</p> <p>442 were</p> <p>Leo</p> <p>Strauss</p> <p>committed. There is a strict of the examples, parallelism an ancient a modern twice is followed example by example. two last The deal "victories." with The examples explicitly ancient there had been a drawn "victory" had this character: battle between the Romans each army believed and the Aequi; that its enemy had won, and each therefore marched home; by a Roman learned from certain wounded centurion accident their camp; he therefore had abandoned that the Aequi Aequi as a to Rome and returned the camp of the Aequi sacked an army The modern victor. had this character: "victory" of the Florentines and an army of the Venetians had been one another to attack for several days, neither daring facing to suffer from armies began lack of since both the other; to retire; accident the Florentine each decided necessities, bycaptains learned from a woman who, "secure on account of</p> <p>to see some of her relatives her age and her poverty," wished had retired; in the Florentine that the Venetians camp, they to Florence therefore their plans and wrote that they changed In the ancient the enemy and won the war. had repelled we find a wounded enemy soldiers, and bloody battle, example of the enemy camp. In the modern the plundering example, we find a an old and poor woman, and a boastful phony battle, the difference between be true that, concerning letter. It might in respect of virtu, these examples teach ancients and moderns for the under But it is of some importance little that is new. to realize of the Discorsi that the spirit of comedy, standing not to say of absent from this work is not altogether l...</p>