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Machiavelli's Enterprise

Posted by St. John's College on April 22, 2014

Machiavelli’s Enterprise:  A Lecture by Harvey Mansfield

SANTA FE— Machiavelli’s very large enterprise can be studied from his use, just once in all his writings, of the phrase Verità Effettuale (The Prince, ch. 15). This phrase opens the door to modern method and epistemology, in particular to the critique of imagination and the discovery of “fact,” a modern word that today “everyone knows”--only too well. Machiavelli laid the ground for modern philosophy as well as modern morality and modern politics.

Harvey C. Mansfield is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government at Harvard University. He was chairman of the department from 1973 to 1977,has held Guggenheim and NEH fellowships, and has been a fellow at the National Humanities Center. He won the Joseph R. Levenson Award for his teaching at Harvard, received the Sidney Hook Memorial Award from the National Association of Scholars, and in 2004 accepted a National Humanities Medal. In 2007, he delivered the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Jefferson Lecture. He has hardly left Harvard since his first arrival in 1949 and has been on the faculty since 1962, having been awarded his doctorate in philosophy the previous year.

For more than 40 years, Mansfield has been writing and teaching about political philosophy, examining both contemporary politics and their historical origins. His 14 books delve into the words of past thinkers such as Edmund Burke and Machiavelli. Mansfield also is a frequent contributor to numerous periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, National Review, and New York Times Literary Supplement.