Machiavelli (1469–1527)

  • Maureen Ramsay


Machiavelli is a pivotal figure in the history of political thought. His views of human nature, society and government mark a break with medieval philosophy and sixteenth-century political theory based on teleological assumptions about God’s purposes for man. Machiavelli divorced politics from higher purposes, from Christian morality, from theology and from religion. He conceived the state as functioning solely for human purposes and constructed rules of conduct that were not moral rules, but which were informed by a realistic and practical view of the world gleaned from observation of events and examples drawn from history. Machiavelli radically secularised political thought and initiated new ways of looking at man and society. It is with Machiavelli, that modern social and political theory begins.


Common Good Moral Rule Political Realism Civic Virtue Political Thought 
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© Maureen Ramsay 2002

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  • Maureen Ramsay

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