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Martialing Machiavelli: Reassessing the Military Reflections

Timothy J. Lukes
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 66, No. 4 (Nov., 2004), pp. 1089-1108
DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-3816.2004.00291.x
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1111/j.0022-3816.2004.00291.x
Page Count: 20
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Martialing Machiavelli: Reassessing the Military Reflections
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Abstract

In Chapter 14 of The Prince Machiavelli advises his protégé to “never lift thought” from the exercise of war. Yet he says in Chapter 19 that the people are now more formidable than the military and must be attended more energetically. This essay resolves what seems to be a contradiction of priorities. The resolution first requires an extraction of Machiavelli from two concepts of humanism, both of which oversimplify his reflections on war. The essay then demonstrates that Machiavelli so thoroughly integrates military and civil concerns that they become indistinguishable. To “think about the exercise of war” demands thinking about things outside conventional military affairs. Thus, rather than unsettling departures, Machiavelli's military reflections are helpful complements to his civil discourse.

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