There’s a very fundamental controversy lurking in the Machiavellian thread below that I want to highlight:

Escoffier:

The dichotomy may be false to a believer, but Nick is quite the opposite of a believer. There is natural death and that is it, lights out, worm food. The entire supernatural cosmology elaborated by Dante is false, too. Doesn’t exist. And the separate intelligences–the Bible’s angels or Aristotle’s movers of the spheres–those are also false. As is the prime mover, and of course God (this is all implied in D II 5).

The world is the tangible, observable, intelligible, physical world moved by necessity and that’s it. Every other concept that reaches beyond this counts as “the next world” or the next life or heaven or the enternal ideas and so on and they are all phony, mental creations of man.

Tom H:

Sure, as long as we’re clear that the notion of Christianity concerning only what takes place after natural death and not in the tangible, observable, intelligible, physical world is a phony, mental creation of Machiavelli (or possibly some kind of Docetism).

In other words, the disagreement between NM and Christianity is not just about the next life, but about observable, tangible, intelligible features of this world, too. Do you think that’s wrong? I admit I’m not completely clear on the matter.

Some questions for discussion: Is necessity all there is? If so, what does that mean for Machiavelli’s project to expand the realm of human freedom—of effectual manipulation? Is even the Machiavellian project proto-historicist insofar as it’s all about creating a world governed by human control—or not chance and necessity? Does the Machiavellian version of “necessity is all there is” create an unbounded or at least unjustified confidence in the malleability of human nature by the free or astute man. How do you integrate that man into the realm of necessity? Is the Machiavellian (=Avoerres? =Strauss?) view of the true relationship between reason and revelation actually a caricature of or even contrary to the Christian conception of nature? What we see with our own eyes, according to Walker Percy, is full of intimations of the goodness and gratuitousness of created being.

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