Modernization, Secularization and Immanentization of Political Theory
Forthcoming: Ercole Erculei (ed.): Politica, moralità, fortuna: riflessioni storico-filosofiche 500 anni dopo ‘Il Principe’ di Machiavelli
17 Pages Posted: 25 May 2014
Date Written: May 23, 2014
This paper tries to shift the contrast of debates between 'scholasticii' and 'politici' away from conceptualizing it in terms of theology vs. rationalism, since in a way both share a modern, rationalist outlook: It is argued that the practice of politics is recognized by both Machiavelli and his scholastic counterpart Girolamo Savonarola as deeply characterised by prudential and "realist" considerations. The main difference seems to be the the conceptualizing of one's own historical situation, of the eventual success of one's own practice and of societal development in terms either of a teleological framework or of radical contingence. Put this way, the same arguments that allow Machiavelli to move away from the former framework then cast doubts also on the possibilities of a rational political theory, in the sense of transparent and certain knowledge and understanding.
The paper draws on Claude Lefort's interpretation of Machiavelli in order to highlight a radically immanentist perspective in the 'Principe'. The Machiavellian approach involves a distinct methodological perspective on politics, on power, and on history that is contrasted with a rationalist paradigm that is prominent in political theory, but has been sharply criticized already by Machiavelli himself.
Keywords: Machiavelli, Savonarola, Political Theory, Political Theology, Political Theory, Early Modernity
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