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The Machiavellian MomentFlorentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition$
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J. G. A. Pocock

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172231

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172231.001.0001

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The Eighteenth-Century Debate

The Eighteenth-Century Debate

Virtue, Passion and Commerce

(p.462) Chapter XIV The Eighteenth-Century Debate
The Machiavellian Moment

J.G.A. Pocock

Richard Whatmore

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the reasons as to why the inherited complex of ideas concerning republican virtue and its place in social time was transmitted into the eighteenth century in the form so little changed and yet so radically challenged. It shows that the American Revolution and Constitution in some sense form the last act of the civic Renaissance, and that the ideas of the civic humanist tradition provide an important key to the paradoxes of modern tensions between individual self-awareness on the one hand and consciousness of society, property, and history on the other. The American founders occupied a “Machiavellian moment”—a crisis in the relations between personality and society, virtue and corruption—but at the same time stood at a moment in history when that problem was being either left behind or admitted insoluble.

Keywords:   republican virtue, eighteenth-century thought, American Revolution, American Constitution, civic humanism, modernity, personality, society, virtue, corruption, America

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