Dukasaur wrote:I'll take your word for it. I read it in high school, and that was something more than 30 years ago, and I'm willing to assume you've read it more recently. My recollection is that it was just practical "rule-of-thumb" type advice driven entirely by pragmatic concerns.
Well, you're right -- that's more or less exactly how it reads. So I wouldn't say you're wrong for assuming that he wasn't touching real philosophy. But I think from a historical context, it's a safe bet to assume that he really was making a point about the nature of both reality and ethics. That is, if you were the prince in question, you wouldn't need to understand the philosophical background to use the suggestions contained therein; but, it seems quite likely that Machiavelli was interested in the power of how one can use deceit to convince others of various arguments, and the ethical justification of this. It's not metaphysical-style epistemology in the sense of Plato, admittedly.