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Reading Machiavelli$
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John P. McCormick

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183503

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183503.001.0001

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date: 08 April 2020

Leo Strauss’s Machiavelli and the Querelle between the Few and the Many

Leo Strauss’s Machiavelli and the Querelle between the Few and the Many

(p.144) 5 Leo Strauss’s Machiavelli and the Querelle between the Few and the Many
Reading Machiavelli

John P. McCormick

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes Leo Strauss' engagement with the democratic elements of Niccolò Machiavelli's political thought; specifically, Machiavelli's self-avowed departure from the ancients in favoring the political judgment and participation of the many over the few, and in recommending the people, rather than the nobles, as the ultimate foundation for political authority. It identifies several of Strauss' misinterpretations of Machiavelli's democratic, anti-elitist republicanism and explores tensions and discrepancies within Strauss' reconstruction of Machiavelli's political-philosophical project. Furthermore, Strauss exaggerates Machiavelli's criticisms of peoples and underplays his criticisms of the nobilities within republics. Strauss marshals instances of elite-popular interactions in the Discourses that purportedly demonstrate Machiavelli's preference for elite intervention and manipulation over popular participation and judgment.

Keywords:   Leo Strauss, Niccolò Machiavelli, political judgement, people, nobles, political authority, anti-elitism, republicanism

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