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Philosophy Today

Volume 60, Issue 3, Summer 2016

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Ian Alexander MooreOrcid-ID, Christopher Turner
Pages 761-788

On Machiavelli, as an Author, and Passages from His Writings

This is the first English translation of the majority of Fichte’s 1807 essay on Machiavelli, which has been hailed as a masterpiece and was important for the development of German idealist political thought, as well as for its reception by figures such as Carl von Clausewitz, Max Weber, Leo Strauss, and Carl Schmitt. Fichte’s essay attempts to resuscitate Machiavelli as a legitimate political thinker and an “honest, reasonable, and meritorious man.” It tacitly critiques Napoleon, who was occupying Prussia when Fichte composed the piece, and calls on the Germans to resist the French. And some have argued that it marks a shift in Fichte’s political thought toward a more realist position.