Machiavelli, Chisciotte e i mondi plurimi. Idealità, contraddizione e conoscenza nell’antropologia politica proto-moderna

Machiavelli is considered the historical champion of political efficiency. His thought is traditionally depicted as a pendulum balancing ethical standards and pragmatic exigencies, but which ends up unevenly oscillating towards the second pole. A good deal of cynicism is assumed as the price for the foundation of an objectified political knowledge, precisely that modern political science of which Machiavelli is deemed father (and in charge). In this essay I will endeavor to bring to the surface another side of the Machiavelli’s political-anthropological view, which is closely gushing forth from the relationship between cognition and freedom lying on the seabed of his theoretical but inescapably human journey. For this purpose, I propose an unorthodox analogy between Don Quixote and Machiavelli on the assumption that they share the tragedy of matching ideality with the inconsistency inherent in human conduct. My argument is that both of them collide with the bewildering manifold multiplicity (or, non uniqueness) of the worlds peoples engender and live in. In a sense, they experience the incommensurability of the multiple worlds of life and thereby the irreducibility to a consistent a priori and all-encompassing moral paradigm. This is, in my view, the main discovery of proto-modernity and, at the same time, the cornerstone of the visionary intelligence of human existence that emanates from the Machiavelli’s and Cervantes’ masterpieces. The answer these two authors give to the contradictory conundrum of human experience is, at least apparently, quite different. This discontinuity probably comes from Cervantes having shaped his view of life through a fictional character, namely Don Chisciotte/Alonso Quijano. Conversely, Machiavelli molded the literary figures of his political writings to indicate possible escape routes from the social and political difficulties of his times: the very ones that afflicted his personal destiny. In Machiavelli’s view, facing the contradictions of life necessitates considering ends/means dialectics from a processive angle. This approach can be implemented only through a prudent combination of cognition and freedom, unlocked from any apriorism and modestly ever open to learn, self-reflexively, from the consequences. All this unveils another modernity, whose deep signification is yet to be mined in order to discern the future we are sowing in our present.

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