The Wisdom Of Ibn Zafar al-Siqilli And Abu Bakr al-Khowarizmi

The writer and scholar Ibn Zafar al-Siqilli lived from 1104 to about 1170.  The cognomen al-Siqilli (“the Sicilian”) was given to him because he was born on the island of Sicily.  There are a number of important works credited to his name, the most famous of which is a book of ethical and political philosophy called Consolation for the Master Who Suffers From the Hatred of His Servants (the brilliant Arabic title, written in the rhyming prose typical of Arabic literature, is سلوان المطاع في عدوان الأتباع‎).  In English, this work is often referred to simply as the Sulwan al-Mutaa’.  The book was composed in 1159, during the time of the second Norman king of Sicily, William the Bad.  Sicily (Sakalliya) had been an Arab emirate from A.D. 831 to 1091.

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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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Machiavelli’s Three Key Concepts


If a political scientist were asked who might be the most misunderstood writer of political theory, he would probably have the name of Machiavelli high on his list.  To his name have been ascribed sinister motivations and calculated duplicity; and unscrupulous cherry-picking of his quotes has fashioned him into an ogre in the popular mind.

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A Retreat Can Spur Creative Energy: Machiavelli’s Letter To Francesco Vettori


Sometimes being away from the fray and the fracases of life can allow us to compose our thoughts and regenerate our spirits.  This has the effect of spurring the creative soul on to higher amplitudes of output.  We forget just how distracting it is for the mind to be bombarded with invasive stimuli; and while periods of withdrawal from the fray should not be permanent, they can, in the right doses, provide just that right proportion of flint and steel to spark great works.

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Fear Or Love? The Views Of Cicero And Machiavelli (Podcast)


Is it better to be feared or loved?  This famous question is more nuanced than people think, and was addressed specifically by Cicero in “On Duties” as well as by Machiavelli in his “Prince” and “Discourses.”  Yet there has been much oversimplification and misunderstanding on this subject.
We also discuss whether Stoicism lends itself to passivity and fatalism.

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