© 2000

Between form and Event

Machiavelli’s Theory of Political Freedom


Part of the Topoi Library book series (TOPI, volume 2)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction

  3. The Form of the State — On Beginnings

  4. Machiavelli’s Theory of History: Modes of Encounter between Action and Time

  5. The Event of the Republic — The Return to Beginnings

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 217-220
    2. Miguel E. Vatter
      Pages 221-235
    3. Miguel E. Vatter
      Pages 237-263
  6. Conclusion

About this book


Before Machiavelli, political freedom was approached as a problem of the best distribution of the functions of ruler and ruled. Machiavelli changed the terms of freedom, requiring that its discourse address the demand for no-rule or non-domination. Political freedom would then develop only through a strategy of antagonism to every form of legitimate domination. This leads to the emergence of modern political life: any institution that wishes to rule legitimately must simultaneously be inscribed with its immanent critique and imminent subversion. For Machiavelli, the possibility of instituting the political form is conditioned by the possibility of changing it in an event of political revolution.
This book shows Machiavelli as a philosopher of the modern condition. For him, politics exists in the absence of those absolute moral standards that are called upon to legitimate the domination of man over man. If this understanding lies open to relativism and historicism, it does so in order to render effective the project of reinventing the sense of human freedom. Machiavelli's legacy to modernity is the recognition of an irreconcilable tension between the demands of freedom and the imperatives of morality.


Institution Machiavelli Niccolò Machiavelli Revolution conflict discourse freedom morality politics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Between form and Event
  • Book Subtitle Machiavelli’s Theory of Political Freedom
  • Authors M. Vatter
  • Series Title Topoi Library
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2000
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-0-7923-6533-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-90-481-5547-7
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-015-9337-3
  • Series ISSN 1389-689X
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XI, 355
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Political Philosophy
    Political Science
    Modern Philosophy
    Philosophy, general
  • Buy this book on publisher's site