Even if in the last couple of decades the crucial impact exercised by the rediscovery of the De Rerum Natura on Renaissance culture has been stressed in many ways, only very recently the relevance of that poem for Machiavelli’s conception of free will has begun to be fully appreciated. In this paper it will be argued that only if one interprets the relevant Machiavellian texts as presenting an indeterministic (Lucretian) view of free will can one solve the vexata quaestio of whether “il Segretario” had a consistent view of free will (he did!) and explain the place of that view in the context of Machiavelli’s political anthropology. More specifically, already in 1961 Sergio Bertelli discovered that Machiavelli had copied by his own hand the entire De Rerum Natura and added some marginalia to it. Since then the role that Lucretius, and through him, Epicureanism played in Machiavelli’s thought started to be investigated and understood. Surprisingly, however, the issue of free will was not very much at the center of these analyses. The main reason of that was, arguably, that many important interpreters (notably, Gennaro Sasso) interpreted Machiavelli’s remarks on free will as scattered, simplistic, and even contradictory. Prima facie, Machiavelli’s seems indeed to present a sort of pre-Kantian antinomy of free will, which however he never addresses explicitly. One the one hand, he writes passages as the following: “I hold it to be true that Fortune is the arbiter of one-half of our actions, but that she still leaves us to direct the other half, or perhaps a little less” (Principe, 25). On the other hand, he continuously stresses the role of four causal factors that, independently from each other, seem to make free will impossible: (i) Divine providence; (ii) The fate; (iii) Planetary influences; (iv) Polybian anacyclosis. In modern terms, these three factors have generally been interpreted as, respectively, theological-metaphysical determinism, astrological determinism, and historical determinism, and have been seen as incompatible with free will. Basing my interpretation on Alison Brown’s groundbreaking interpretation, I will argue that, for Machiavelli, (i) the above-mentioned causal factors are not to be interpreted as deterministic in nature; (ii) free will is real; (iii) and it is a causal property of human agents modeled on the Lucretian view.
De Caro, M. (2020). Machiavelli's Lucretian View of Free Will. In V.P. P.R. Hardie (a cura di), Lucretius Poet and Philosopher. Background and Fortunes of "De Rerum Natura" (pp. 201-217). Berlin : De Gruyter.
|Titolo:||Machiavelli's Lucretian View of Free Will|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2020|
|Citazione:||De Caro, M. (2020). Machiavelli's Lucretian View of Free Will. In V.P. P.R. Hardie (a cura di), Lucretius Poet and Philosopher. Background and Fortunes of "De Rerum Natura" (pp. 201-217). Berlin : De Gruyter.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||2.1 Contributo in volume (Capitolo o Saggio)|