Machiavelli’s Critique of Classical Philosophy and His Case for The Political Life

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This article illuminates how Machiavelli’s critique of classical philosophy is fundamental to his teaching. It will argue that Machiavelli criticized classical philosophy for its ineffectiveness and its endorsement of the leisurely philosophic life as the best way of life. In contrast, Machiavelli’s optimistic depiction of the scope of human power in controlling chance and his critique of the life of contemplation promote his new understanding of the best life, in which political life and its glory occupy the highest rank. I will then contend that in Machiavelli’s writings there is a coherent and powerful defense of the political life as the alternative for the philosophical life of contemplation.






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Namazi, R (2021). Machiavelli’s Critique of Classical Philosophy and His Case for The Political Life. Perspectives on Political Science, 50(3). pp. 171–181. 10.1080/10457097.2021.1894057 Retrieved from

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Rasoul Namazi

Assistant Professor of Political Theory at Duke Kunshan University

Rasoul Namazi's research focus is the comparative study of Islamic and Western political thought. His work has been published in Comparative Political TheoryReview of Politics, Journal of Religion, Perspectives on Political Science, American Political Thought, Iranian Studies, Interpretation, Renaissance & Reformation, and Eurorient as well as several collected volumes.

Namazi’s book titled Leo Strauss and Islamic Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2022) is a recepient of the Delba Winthrop Prize for Excellence in Political Science. The book is a comprehensive study of Leo Strauss’s writings on Islamic political thought. He is currently editing a volume titled Leo Strauss on Religion: Writings and Interpretations (Forthcoming with SUNY Press) and working on a book-length manuscript on early Islamic political thought.

A laureate of Prix Raymond Aron, Namazi has a Ph.D. in Political Theory from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, M.A. in Political Philosophy and Ethics from Université Paris-Sorbonne, M.A. in Political Studies from EHESS, and B.A. in Political Sciences from the University of Central Tehran. Before joining Duke Kunshan University, he was an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (2019-2021) and a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago (2016-2018).

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