Machiavelli’s Principles Of Conspiracies

Machiavelli, in book III, chapter 6 of his Discourses, enunciates the principles of political conspiracies. He considers an understanding of them to be of primary importance.  I intend to paraphrase his relevant points here, so that readers without access to the original text may have a better understanding of them.  He begins with a point he considers self-evident:

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The Memory Of Benefits, And The Forgetting Of Offenses

Some weeks ago I sought to make contact with two old friends I had known in the early 1990s.  I had not spoken to either one since about 1993.  This kind of thing is always an uncertain proposition, as you can never really be sure how a person has changed over the years.  Sometimes you may find that the person has little enthusiasm for reconnecting; in some cases old friends may have changed beyond all recognition.  But in spite of this I was not deterred:  my experiences in doing this sort of thing have always been very good.

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The Hedonistic Philosophy Of Yang Zhu

It is an unhappy fate for a philosopher to be known to posterity only through his enemies.  Quotes may be taken out of context, writings may be warped or obfuscated, and conclusions may be cherry-picked to present a picture far out of accord from the writer’s original intention.  We do not know if this is precisely the fate of the Chinese philosopher Yang Zhu (440-360 B.C.), but one suspects that if more of his writings had come down to us, we might have a more favorable view of his doctrines.  But we have what we have, and this does not exactly inspire man’s noblest sentiments.  Or does it?  Each reader will have to judge for himself.  It would be wrong to ignore him, even if we disagree with his doctrines.

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The Wisdom Of Mercy From Ibn Hazm Al-Zahiri

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We turn now to those founts of wisdom who have lessons to teach us.  Abu Muhammad Ali Ibn Ahmad Ibn Sa’id Ibn Hazm (أبو محمد علي بن احمد بن سعيد بن حزم) is known to history as Ibn Hazm Al-Zahiri.  Born in Cordoba, Andalusia (Spain) in 994, he achieved enduring fame for his incredible intellectual achievements in a number of disciplines, including jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, and poetry.  He even composed a manual on love known as The Ring of the Dove (طوق الحمامة).  Here was a man of substance, a man who could appreciate the virtues of the passions as well as those of the mind.

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The Lazarus Taxon: Something “Raised From The Dead”

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There is a concept in biology called the Lazarus taxon.  The word taxon (plural taxa) means a taxonomic category, as a species or genus.  The term is used to describe animals or plants that vanish from the fossil record for long periods of time, only to “reappear” at a different point in history.  Organisms long thought to be extinct suddenly appear on the scene.  Why does this happen?  The biologists tell us it can be for many reasons:  the fossil record is sporadic, and not all species are preserved in it.  Some are; and some are not.  The reason why the word Lazarus is used is because it refers to the New Testament story of Lazarus being “raised from the dead.”

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Why Every Man Should Read “Robinson Crusoe”

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By any standard Daniel Defoe (1659?-1731) is one of the most remarkable authors in English history.  In versatility, energy, and practical wisdom, few can claim to be his peer in life experiences or in skill with the pen.  He came to writing by a circuitous route.  After fathering seven children, he threw himself into business and politics; bankruptcy was the result in 1692, but his repayment plan would eventually compensate his creditors almost in full with an amount of 17,000 pounds.

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