Cambridge, MA, 28/05/2011 - 29/05/2011
Tufts University, USA and University of Sussex, UK

Machiavelli is often called 'the father of modernity' because of his intention to ground politics in an account of human nature free from utopian normativism. This realist design was ill-favoured during religious and idealistic periods of history. Yet recent scholarship identified several thinkers who emulated Machiavelli despite their public denunciation of his politics and morals. The principal objective of the research unit on Anti-Machiavellian Machiavellism is to establish whether these thinkers' works and writing strategies constitute a hitherto unidentified, distinct and coherent discourse. If so, then its examination will shed new light on the most fundamental shift in Western politics, from Christian idealism to modern realism, and on the perennial problem of political ethics.

The first conference, Pact with the Devil: the Ethics, Politics and Economics of Anti-Machiavellian Machiavellism, held on 28-29 May, 2010 at the Brighton Hilton Metropole Hotel, created a rigorous analytical foundation by constructing case studies of the anti-Machiavellian Machiavellism of individual thinkers, ranging from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. The best-known instance is Frederick the Great, as diagnosed by Rousseau, but recent work has shown the same approach by thinkers as diverse as Gentillet, Bodin, Botero, Lipsius, Grotius, Milton, Cunaeus, Sidney, Voltaire, Hamilton, Fichte, Wells, and many others. Though the particular motives and circumstances vary greatly from each of these thinkers to the next, Machiavelli's encapsulation of the tension between means and ends appears to have become not only a theoretical milestone but also a rhetorical touchstone of sorts.  Denouncing Machiavelli's immoral advice was - and largely remains - a rhetorical necessity. Selected proceedings will appear in July 2011 as a Special Issue of the History of European Ideas, already available online.

Wrestling with Machiavelli, the second conference, is scheduled to take place on 28-29 May, 2011 at the Sheraton Commander Hotel in Cambridge MA, USA. Building on the case studies and close textual analyses of the first round of work, this time we wish to consider how emulators and critics struggled with Machiavelli in relation to specific issues, such as reason of state, religion, democracy, foreign policy, sovereignty, representation, and partisanship. For speakers, titles, abstracts and further details of this conference, please consult our website.

Generous funding for this research unit has been provided by The Leverhulme Trust and the Academic Dean of Arts & Sciences, Tufts University.

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