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Maurizio Viroli

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198780885

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198780885.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction

Maurizio Viroli

Oxford University Press

This introductory chapter asserts that Niccolo Machiavelli was the restorer of the Roman concept of politics as civil wisdom, and the founder of the theory of modern republicanism based on this concept. It argues that most of the extravagant titles bestowed on him should be put aside, most notably, the founder of the modern science of politics. It notes that Machiavelli's method of studying political reality was interpretative and historical rather than scientific. It also explains that Machiavelli wrote as a rhetorician to persuade, to move, and to impel to act. The chapter explains that Machiavelli never quoted ancient authorities to sustain his political advice. Instead he used the authority of history as narrated by the ancient historians and interpreted by himself. Rather than study Machiavelli as the forerunner of the modern science of politics and modernity, the chapter stresses that his works should be studied as the highest point of the traditional scientia civilis. It claims that the most interesting thing about Machiavelli is his philosophy of life, which includes his moral and aesthetic views.

Keywords:   Machiavelli, politics, philosophy, scientia civilis, republicanism

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