Both Machiavelli and Hobbes rely on a specific concept of human nature, whose seeds we can attribute to Greek philosophy and especially to Socrates, and they base their political theories on that very concept.
Origin and meaning of the term humanism The ideal of humanitas The history of the term humanism is complex but enlightening. It was first employed as humanismus by 19th-century German scholars to designate the Renaissance emphasis on Classical studies in education.
These studies were pursued and endorsed by educators known, as early as the late 15th century, as umanisti—that is, professors or students of Classical literature. The word umanisti derives from the studia humanitatisa course of Classical studies that, in the early 15th century, consisted of grammarpoetryrhetorichistoryand moral philosophy.
The studia humanitatis were held to be the equivalent of the Greek paideia. Renaissance humanism in all its forms defined itself in its straining toward this ideal.
No discussion of humanism, therefore, can have validity without an understanding of humanitas. Humanitas meant the development of human virtue, in all its forms, to its fullest extent.
The term thus implied not only such qualities as are associated with the modern word humanity—understanding, benevolencecompassion, mercy—but also such more assertive characteristics as fortitudejudgment, prudenceeloquence, and even love of honour.
Consequently, the possessor of humanitas could not be merely a sedentary and isolated philosopher or man of letters but was of necessity a participant in active life.
Just as action without insight was held to be aimless and barbaric, insight without action was rejected as barren and imperfect. Humanitas called for a fine balance of action and contemplation, a balance born not of compromise but of complementarity.
The goal of such fulfilled and balanced virtue was political, in the broadest sense of the word.
The purview of Renaissance humanism included not only the education of the young but also the guidance of adults including rulers via philosophical poetry and strategic rhetoric.
It included not only realistic social criticism but also utopian hypothesesnot only painstaking reassessments of history but also bold reshapings of the future.
Humanism had an evangelical dimension: The wellspring of humanitas was Classical literature.
Greek and Roman thought, available in a flood of rediscovered or newly translated manuscripts, provided humanism with much of its basic structure and method. For Renaissance humanists, there was nothing dated or outworn about the writings of AristotleCiceroor Livy.
Compared with the typical productions of medieval Christianitythese pagan works had a fresh, radical, almost avant-garde tonality. Indeed, recovering the classics was to humanism tantamount to recovering reality.
Classical philosophyrhetoric, and history were seen as models of proper method—efforts to come to terms, systematically and without preconceptions of any kind, with perceived experience. Moreover, Classical thought considered ethics qua ethics, politics qua politics: Classical virtue, in examples of which the literature abounded, was not an abstract essence but a quality that could be tested in the forum or on the battlefield.
Finally, Classical literature was rich in eloquence. In particular, humanists considered Cicero to be the pattern of refined and copious discourse, as well as the model of eloquence combined with wise statesmanship.
In eloquence humanists found far more than an exclusively aesthetic quality.
As an effective means of moving leaders or fellow citizens toward one political course or another, eloquence was akin to pure power.The Prince study guide contains a biography of Niccolo Machiavelli, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Thoughts on Ruling: Machiavelli VS. Petrarch In the fourteenth century, the humanist philosopher Francesco Petrarch wrote a letter entitled How a Ruler Ought to Govern His Sate.
Nearly a century later, another philosopher by the name of Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a book about governing, The Prince.
Machiavelli “shows us how the flaws of force and fraud may be necessities in preserving a state, but he also shows us the possibility of human greatness, how things can be accomplished,” says political scientist Vickie Sullivan.
Bad luck, Machiavelli thought, could sometimes undermine even the most brilliant leaders. politician, and patron of scholars, artists, and poets was a leading member of the ruling Medici family in Florence, Italy, during the Italian The Comedy and Tragedy of Machiavelli: Essays on the Literary Works.
New Haven, Conn.: Yale University. The evolution of modern politics is strongly influenced by Machiavelli’s tactics in The Prince. The fast nature, smooth talking, and lack of original thought seen in modern politics is evident in Machiavelli. Video: Discourses on Livy by Machiavelli: Summary, Analysis & Quotes 'Discourses on Livy', by Niccolo Machiavelli, is a collection of Machiavelli's thoughts on politics, war, and affairs of state.