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Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469–1527)

The Italian statesman, diplomat, and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli is an important source of modern thought about society. Nevertheless, the character of his thought, and thus of his influence on modernity, is debated among historians, political theorists, and social theorists. His two great works of import for law, sociology, and comparative studies are The Prince (1532) and Discourses on Livy (1531). The latter seems merely a commentary on a classic history of Rome, but some scholars consider it a crucial elaboration of its pithy counterpart, each work striving to turn the Renaissance toward a more direct critique of medieval Christianity and classical philosophy.

In this view, much of modern life and thought stems from Machiavelli's aim to found new ways of thinking and new modes of ...

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