Home » Reading clubs » Humanities » On Politics: Humanism, Reformation, and Machiavelli

On Politics: Humanism, Reformation, and Machiavelli

[This is a summary of our discussion of chaptes 9-11 in Alan Ryan’s On Politics. It was written by Jotun Hein]

For some reason it was easier to get an overview over today’s 3 chapters.

Again OP shies away from definitions/concepts and there is much biographical and historical description. Readable, but I get lost in Florentine intrigues which seems key to both Dante’s and Machiavelli’s life.

All three chapters are variants on a common theme: A shift from the God/Church governed universe towards having the individual as key player. At the personal level, at the relationship of the individuals relation to God and in politics. We had a lot of discussions of how this transition came about. Explanations invoking the Black Death [150 years before], which created labour shortage and greater internal mobility, the rise of cities and artisan trade, the appearance of printing and more general ability to read as a result of secular education.

Over time, I have read a lot on these topics, but I regret that I haven’t read the primary literature like THE PRINCE, UTOPIA, PRAISE OF FOLLY…. They seem like fun little readable books.

I should like to read more about the Münster rebellion. We will meet again December 14th and discuss Hobbes-Locke-Republicanism.


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