October 7, 2012 in slideshow
At September’s etcetera, Scott Gordon gave us an excellent presentation on the legal and social tension surrounding not only the current contraception mandate debate, but also past clashes between religious practice and governmental power. A big “thank you” to Scott and all the other presenters who have volunteered their time, energy and resources to make etcetera come to life each month. Thanks also to Angela Josephine, Aromas, and the Good Work Collective. Fantastic music, delicious coffee, a great building and an excellent speaker. Life is good.
This month, we will be looking at different viewpoints concerning politics, power, and leadership. October 25th’s “Machiavelli, Erasmus, and Hobbes: Who Should Choose the Next President?” promises to both inform and entertain as we draw closer to the election. In preparation, here are some links if you would like to read more.
Machiavelli (“It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”)
From the History Guide: “The greatest source of Machiavelli’s reputation is, of course, The Prince (1532). The main theme of this short book is that all means may be resorted to for the establishment and preservation of authority — the end justifies the means — and that the worst and most treacherous acts of the ruler are justified by the wickedness and treachery of the governed.”
From “Why Machiavelli Matters” at Forbes.com: “At first glance, The Prince may seem irrelevant to our lives today. After all, the book is almost 500 years old! But the abuse of power is not peculiar to Renaissance politics. It can occur at any time, in any workplace, in any relationship. The principles Machiavelli discovered apply equally to our lives today.
Erasmus (“Man is to man either a god or a wolf.”)
From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “As was the case with Utopia, the political thought of Plato (especially in the Republic) was the most frequently cited classical source, though Aristotle’s Politics, the Cyropedia of Xenophon, and the Moralia of Plutarch also had significant influence. All of these classical authors, together with the Roman moralists Cicero and Seneca and the Roman historians Livy and Sallust, are included on the reading list that Erasmus prescribes for a royal pupil. This emphasis on the ability of moral philosophy to plant “the seeds of morality” in the soul of a prince, or any pupil, is typical of the educational writings of Renaissance humanists.”
From “Machiavelli and Erasmus Compared”: “The individualistic, toleration-oriented thinking of Erasmus explicitly inspired Enlightenment thinkers, such as Locke and Voltaire, upon whose ideas America’s Founding Fathers drew in formulating the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The realpolitik of Machiavelli, on the other hand, influenced such figures as Otto von Bismarck, the architect of Imperial Germany, the first authoritarian state of the modern era, characterized by strict martial discipline, colossal government intervention in individual affairs, and a policy of relentless military expansionism. These two visions would come to an ultimate confrontation during the twentieth-century series of global conflicts between liberty and totalitarianism.”
Hobbes (“The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them.”)
From “Hobbes: Moral and Political Philosophy”: “He poses stark alternatives: we should give our obedience to an unaccountable sovereign (a person or group empowered to decide every social and political issue). Otherwise what awaits us is a “state of nature” that closely resembles civil war – a situation of universal insecurity, where all have reason to fear violent death and where rewarding human cooperation is all but impossible.”
From “The Nature of Political Power: Machiavelli and Hobbes”: “At the very root of power itself are some fundamental questions that warrant examination within the context of Machiavelli and Hobbes; first, the issue of who should rule the state, as well as how they should rule it. When studying the ideas of these two political philosophers, it becomes apparent that no two individuals could be more different in their thoughts on the same topic.”