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Beyond the Doxa : Accounting for Paradox in Niccolo Machiavelli

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Title: Beyond the Doxa : Accounting for Paradox in Niccolo Machiavelli
Author(s): Tippett, Jake
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies 2010-2017
Discipline: General History
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2020
Tiedekunta/Osasto – Fakultet/Sektion – Faculty Faculty of Arts and Humanities Tekijä – Författare – Author Jake Tippett Työn nimi – Arbetets titel – Title Beyond the Doxa: Accounting for Paradox in Niccolò Machiavelli Oppiaine – Läroämne – Subject General History Työn laji – Arbetets art – Level MA Aika – Datum – Month and year August 2020 Sivumäärä– Sidoantal – Number of pages 63 Tiivistelmä – Referat – Abstract This thesis examines paradox in a small, yet diverse, selection of Niccolò Machiavelli’s writings — his letters, poems, and his major political/literary writings — and sets out to address the gap that exists in the critical appreciation of paradox in his work. Contextualising his writings in relation to the Italian Renaissance culture of paradox, I have examined paradox here in connection to questions of human agency. I discuss the way paradox can be seen to function as a literary site of cultural conflict and construction and argue that Machiavelli utilised the paradoxical form as a creative tool to enable his own innovative artistic acts of agency. Lastly, I argue that paradox informed his own theoretical mediations on effective human action. In doing so, I draw on upon Saussure’s language theories to reconceptualize the way paradox works to challenge orthodoxy and cultural convention and to consider how it may be seen to function as a tool of human agency in Machiavelli’s work. I argue that the power of paradox derives from its presentation of something being what it is considered not to be. This expression of “difference” in relation to doxa works to challenge any objective or fixed status held by the particular formulation that it confronts. I also argue that, in marking a difference, paradox points back, at the same time, towards its own possibility of difference and its own paradoxicality, and that this alterity and indeterminate character of paradox can be located in Machiavelli’s own theories surrounding effective human action. I conclude, by suggesting that paradox can be considered a central form and concept in Machiavelli’s writings. And that his work may be read intertextually in relation to the Italian Renaissance culture of paradox. Furthermore, the reconceptualization of paradox offered here has highlighted its potential as powerful tool of human agency. Avainsanat – Nyckelord – Keywords Machiavelli, Paradox, Agency Säilytyspaikka – Förvaringställe – Where deposited Muita tietoja – Övriga uppgifter – Additional information
Keyword(s): Machiavelli Paradox Agency General History

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