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Machiavelli, Absolution, and USNA Professor Wrage

Posted by Brianne Leith on July 11, 2014


By Brianne Leith, AGI08

Professor Stephen D. Wrage of the United States Naval Academy (USNA) delivered the lecture "Machiavelli and Absolution" on July 9 at St. John's College in Annapolis. The lecture incorporated the ideals of SJC, the USNA, and Niccoló Machiavelli to discuss how Machiavelli's powerful ideas are an overarching presence in the world's military politics.

In Wrage's words, "Machiavelli would likely find the title of this talk [Machiavelli and Absolution] perplexing, or simply disappointing and ridiculous. Absolution for whom and for what act? Those who act to serve the interest of the state should make no apologies and need seek no absolution. Yet Machiavelli’s terse and uncompromising position has seldom been adopted by political figures. They instead continue to excuse their actions and seek to absolve themselves, usually through barely plausible claims of necessity. This talk will aim to bring a little Machiavellian candor to such claims made by leaders, especially in the realm of foreign policy, and will argue that they might do well to be less apologetic and self justifying."

The lecture was attended by community members from SJC, the USNA, and the city of Annapolis, including Mayor Michael Pantelides.

"I was actually talking earlier about Machiavelli's idea about the chaotic times of regime change being relative to my beginning experiences in office," said Pantelides. "I think the fact that St. John's College offers free events to the community is great. It is important for the public to have this intellectual outlet."

Want to experience a Wednesday night lecture for yourself? Join us July 16 at 7:30 p.m. for Gianna Englert's "Mastery, Freedom, Friendship: Tutor and Pupil in Rousseau's Emile” lecture. Click here to see the full schedule for the Annapolis Wednesday night lecture series.