Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought Series Editor: Dr Mark Philp, Oriel College, University of Oxford Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought present critical examinations of the work of major political philosophers and social theorists, assessing both their initial contribution and continuing relevance to politics and society. Each volume provides a clear, accessible, historically-informed account of each thinker's work, focusing on a re-assessment of their central ideas and arguments. Founders encourage scholars and students to link their study of classic texts to current debates in political philosophy and social theory. This launch volume in the Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought series presents a critical examination of Machiavelli's thought, combining an accessible, historically-informed account of his work with a re-assessment of his central ideas and arguments. Maurizio Viroli challenges the accepted interpretations of Machiavelli's work, insisting that his republicanism was based not on a commitment to virtue, greatness, and expansion, but to the ideal of civic life protected by the shield of fair laws.
His detailed study of how Machiavelli composed his famous work The Prince presents new interpretations, and he further argues that the most challengingand completely underestimatedaspect of Machiavelli's thought is his philosophy of life, in particular his conceptions of love, women, irony, God, and the human condition. Viroli demonstrates that Machiavelli composed The Prince, and all his works, according to the rules of classical rhetoric and never intended to found the 'modern science of politics', aiming rather to continue and refine the practice of political theorising as a rhetorical endeavour taught by the Roman masters of civic philosophy. Viroli's Machiavelli, a serious challenge to contemporary methods of doing political theory, will be essential for advanced students of the history of political thought.
Maurizio Viroli is Professor of Politics at Princeton University. He previously worked at the European University Institute.