L. Gazziero, « Machiavelli », in M. Lewis and D. Rose (ed.), The Bloomsbury Italian Philosophy Reader, London, Bloomsbury, 2022, p. 51-58 Confusion verging on chaos aptly describes Italian politics between any two points in time. That being said, the amount of outright violence, political backstabbing and social upheaval Machiavelli had to put up with - as a successful bureaucrat and diplomat first (1498-1512), and later as a disgraced citizen (1512-27) is, with few if any exceptions, virtually unmatched in the history of Italian philosophy. At any rate, it is conspicuous enough to put him in a league of his own (among political thinkers). All the more so since, in Machiavelli's own words, his claim to originality rested on a return to the things themselves and the 'real truth' they convey through experience, as opposed to the traditional proclivity towards speculation regarding 'imaginary things', most notably by portraying fanciful characters and devising political regimes that can only exist on paper. Indeed, philosophers had long been lecturing- either in flawless syllogistic fashion or in vivid rhetorical style - both rulers and subjects on how they should behave and interact. However, they had taken little notice of how they actually go about their business. Alternatively, what does unbiased, direct observation of the present and extensive, informed reading of the past teach us about the ways of the world

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