Niccolò Machiavelli, His Methodology


 Machiavelli’s methods, like that of Aristotle, was historical. But, it was more so in appearance than in substance
and reality. He was more concerned with the actual working of the governmental machinery than the abstract
principles of constitution. A realist in politics his writings expound a theory of the art of government rather than
a theory of State.
 He was an accurate observer and acute analyst of the prevailing circumstances. He, therefore, adopted a form
and method of political philosophy which ignored completely the scholastic and juristic ideals.
 His conclusions were reached empirically based on common sense and shrewd political foresight.
 According to Sabine: “He used history exactly as he used his own observation to illustrate or support a
conclusion that he had reached without reference to history.”
 It was Dunning who called his study as “the study of the art of government rather than a theory of the State”.
 Thus, the substance of his thought covers-a much narrower field than Aristotle. But, in this narrow field his
treatment of the problems exhibit, in the words of Sabine, “the shrewdest insight into points of weakness and
strength in a political situation, the clearest and coolest judgement of the resources and temperament of an
opponent, the most objective estimate of the limitations of a policy, the soundest common sense in
forecasting the logic of events, and the outcome of a course of action”.

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