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A Question of Morality: An Historiographic Analysis of the Life, Writings, and Influence of Niccolo Machiavelli
This paper will examine Machiavelli's career and work with respect both to the intellectual and political climate in which he lived, and to later historical interpretation of his writings. The central problems of his two major works - the "means to power" in "The Prince", and how "the end justifies the means" in "The Discourses" - will be examined to both in terms of historical context and historical interpretation. As will be seen, to understand Machiavelli's thinking about the above problems it is necessary to contextualize his work with respect to the dominant historiographic ideas of his day. It will be argued that, when situated in his own era, the political views which appear brutally cynical to some historians living in the late twentieth century become understandable and, in their own way, actually morally admirable.13 pgs. 27 f/c. 6b.