The end doesn't justify the means


[…] and here the speech you can certainly extend to those who aspire to the first positions in the field of culture, of science, of theology, of ecclesiastical dignities. And here we have an explosion of self-righteousness, sad deformation of spiritual life and of the vocation of the theologian and Pastor, plague that does not spare any century in the history of Christianity, scandalous and choking of spiritual invasion by land interests more or less sinful, especially for power, by domain, of efficiency, listings, of success. Here is setting up the most dangerous and cunning closer to that of the serpent of Genesis, Why, If the damage or profiteer politician disappoints in economic goods, the evil Shepherd, the false prophet or teologastro sends the soul to hell.



Author John Cavalcoli OP

John Cavalcoli OP



machiavelli 0

Prince, the most famous opera by Niccolò Machiavelli

We all know the axiom that sums up the doctrine of Machiavelli about the Prince's duties: "the end justifies the means", Although this principle is not machiavelliano in the text with these precise words. It does mean that, If the end is good, any means serving to the attainment of the end, It is for that very reason fair and good or, If it is bad, becomes good. Also know as this maxim of Machiavelli has been rejected by many. Remarkable, for instance, is the essay by Jacques Maritain "The end of Machiavellianism” in Reason and Reasons . Here I would like to study in a special way his critique. (C)itiamo first Florentine Secretary's words contained in the famous Prince:

machiavelli 2«The laudabile keep the faith, and to live with integrity and not with cunning, each the means. Nevertheless you see from experience in our time, those princes have done great things of faith held little, and who knew with cunning work around the brains of men, and eventually they exceeded those that are founded on loyalty ... Venture to say this, that were (good qualities) and always observe, are harmful, and of them parendo, they are useful; how pitiful opinion, loyal, Human, itself, and be; but being so built with the soul that, not be case, You can and will change in the opposite ... A man who wants to make all parts good profession, agrees that ruin in among many that are not good. So you must learn to be not good, and use it and not use it as needed, half man, half beast, Fox now, now lion ... What has been able to better use the Fox, It's better to happen... But you must always be so prudent who knows how to escape the disgrace of those vices that the torrebbero was ... If men were all good, This precept is not good. But because I'm sad, and would you not, you still don't have to observe them».

Machiavelli 1

Niccolo Machiavelli

The flaw in this reasoning of Machiavelli It is not going, as may appear, admitting that, to achieve certain purposes, It may be useful to use in special cases of means that are generally prohibited. If Machiavelli stopped at this, would reason. This, however, does not mean an act in itself coonestare bad. But this does not mean that it is impossible to play an Act generally bad conditions that make it good. Indeed, as you know, the same traditional morality, admits as self-defense killing of unjust aggressor. Likewise also the lie, that kind is bad, Why does the listener of the right to know the truth, in certain cases, can be seen as a legitimate defense against those who would use the news to do harm, and then may become legal, as can be seen from the behavior of Raab, narrated in the Bible [GS 2,1-21], which is rewarded [GS 6, 22-25] and praised in Hebrews [EB 11,31] and from San Giacomo [GC 2,25].

machiavelli 3

the scourge of “machiavellism” in politics

No bad acts that can never become good, even for certain circumstances. And it is here that Machiavelli falls, because for him there is no absolutely bad Act, While on the other hand, does not believe that good always and absolutely go tried. A complete distortion of morality; Sin becomes commanded, While virtue is scorned.
It is not about, as some say, independence of moral politics. Political action, Since human act, It is simply a moral act having as purpose the cure for the common good. Morals and politics cannot ignore one another to each other, but politics is nothing more than the application of moral principle in the context of social relations. The policy simply must determine in the social field what the moral law is indeterminate; but cannot combat it. Nobody authorizes the politician to be a villain in the name of politics. But even the politician, just as political, is called, in Christianity, to be Holy. Machiavelli, to learn these things, He had under his eyes beautiful teachings of the Savonorola; but failed to gain any profit.


maximum machiavelliche of Al Capone: “You can do more with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word and just”

This relativism and moral expediency Machiavelli It also reveals in confuse prudence with the cunning, how it looks already evident from indifferent that Machiavelli makes two words. This means that advises the Vice instead of virtue, as St. Thomas teaches the cunning is a false prudence for which 'someone, Ad finem aliquem consequendum, Vel vel bonum malum, veris not viis utitur, SED simulatis et apparentibus ».
And it is precisely what makes the astute: to achieve its end, which does not appear to be a good end – "do great things" doesn't want to even say anything – pretends to be good, upright and honest, but it really isn't. So the cunning is the companion of hypocrisy.

A Psalm of Scripture praises the cunning against the "evil" [Shall 17,27]. But as to defend itself against a criminal, then it is clear that must be understood in the sense of prudence, of the prudence, where Christ says that we should imitate the snakes. Vice versa, Machiavelli's the Prince does not scruple to deceive, harm or exploit even the innocent, in order to achieve its aims of domination and power.


the goodness …

For Machiavelli the goodness is not an absolute end, but the end is this do "great things", which may be simply a will to power or self-affirmation. What if, to order service, serves the goodness, well, But if it serves the wickedness, well the same. In an environment of wicked, the single, for Machiavelli, If he wants to be in luck and success or at least survive, must in turn be evil. They, to give force to his sophisticated reasoning, It conceives that the duty to be good, is, in the words of Kant, a categorical imperative, aside from the fact that we hardly ever meet pure evil company, where does not shine some light of goodness.

Saint Peter Dominican martyr

Dominican St. Peter Martyr

One thing is certain: that Machiavelli was not able to understand the value of martyrdom. It is clear that Machiavelli in his considerations is driven by a simple earthly perspective. The destiny of man resolves to this world, losing in this world means losing everything. Be defeated here to be faithful to an ideal oltremondano for Machiavelli makes no sense. From that you can see its not say radical anti-Christian, But even materialist, because ancient sages like Socrates and Plato, they elevate the look beyond purely land interests and aspirations to hear the absolute and unconditional imperative of moral value present in consciousness.

With the formidable under her eyes of a Savonarola, Machiavelli was limited to a modest eulogy, perhaps without realizing that heroic brother's example was a radical denial of its logic of

savonarola plaque in Ferrara

the Dominican Girolamo Savonarola plaque posted on the Town Hall in his hometown of Ferrara

arrogance. It should be noted that, If the medium is not good, no circumstances can make good the goodness of end cannot make it good. The order therefore cannot justify a half bad, just as God justifies the sinner making it good. The steal to give to the poor remains a steal, Although the give to the poor is commendable. Because the medium is good not enough that effectively reaches end; must be good in itself. Some steal to give to the poor can be an effective means to benefit the poor, the theft remains theft.

So too, If a medium is absolutely bad, cannot become good. This impression could give it the murder and falsehood. But they are not bad as such acts, but only the murder of an innocent person and falsehood to the innocent. If not, as we have seen, It may be legitimate to kill or deceive the malefactor. We here therefore a distortion of values, that goodness is at the service of evil. There is still bitterness assumption that good cannot overcome evil, especially in social intercourse: might as well then take the road of evil in the false idea of being able to defend themselves and assert themselves so. Given that others are evil, If you want to survive and go down, of be evil too.


Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve by Michelangelo

Machiavelli seems split absurdly good idea, almost should or could be a super good of man "al di là del bene e del male", related figures and functional to the Supreme good, indifferent to good and evil or synthesis of both. Here Machiavelli seems to preempt Nietzsche. The good seems to consist precisely in this oscillation, in this play skillfully between good and evil, depending on amenities. Duplicity is erected to system, the polar opposite of frankness and linearity of Evangelical "Yes, Yes, no, No ". Do not give a good pure and absolute separated from male; but an unbreakable bond between them, that seems already presaged the Hegelian dialectic.

common good

the Earth, the great common good …

The Prince does not affect the machiavelliano service to the common good, but only to its: keep tight hold of the power, whatever it is, and dominate others. Must of course be generous and unselfish; but only when it suits him. But overall must pretend, If you want to be successful and keep the power. The important thing is not to be honest, but to believe the high of it. From here you understand what Machiavelli offers on his principe: the important thing is not to serve the people, but just give the appearance. The important thing is to stay afloat at any juncture through honesty and dishonesty. Moreover, history shows that even those who follow these ideas don't always have luck and indeed often end badly, while leaders politicians, Heads of State, honest and brave rulers, even if not always goes well, but you can have a great success, as demonstrated by the examples in noble figures, as a St. Louis IX, a St Wenceslas, a Charlemagne in the past and in our times Alcide De Gasperi, Giorgio La Pira, Aldo Moro, Benigno Zaccagnini, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Gandhi and many others. Not to mention the great Popes in history.


the pirate crew

Prince machiavelliano also needs to be an artist in ciurmeria, always hold the power to dominate others. In that regard, they arouse the whole smart Fiorentino admiration those who "knew with cunning work around the brains of men". And here the speech you can certainly extend to those who aspire to the top even outside of politics, in the field of culture, of science, of theology, of ecclesiastical dignities. And here we have an explosion of self-righteousness, sad deformation of spiritual life and of the vocation of the theologian and Pastor, plague that does not spare any century in the history of Christianity, scandalous and choking of spiritual invasion by land interests more or less sinful, especially for power, by domain, of efficiency, listings, of success. Here is setting up the most dangerous and cunning closer to that of the serpent of Genesis [Gen 3,1], Why, If the damage or profiteer politician disappoints in economic goods, the evil Shepherd, the false prophet or teologastro sends the soul to hell.


Jesus heals the blind from birth

One more woe afflicting the Church today It is precisely the multiplication of these subjects, qualified or not qualified, amateurs or professionals, which, as I said a Dominican Superior, — I do not know if with these words you repeat the account Machiavelli —, «change the mind of the faithful».

Another flaw of Machiavelli is the excessive importance which he gives ground to success. There is no doubt that the Prince's political program aimed at success and can be attacked more than a Bishop or a theologian you wait from their business success. but yet, even Prince Christian must not be too attached to the success and, in order to stay faithful to principles of honesty, must be able to accept the failure. Better a failure but with a clear conscience that a great success with deception, corruption and dishonesty: "the subtle cleverness which tends to draw in the error" [Ef 4,14]. Today, especially behind the formidable impetus coming from the Church from Leo XIII to the current Pope, many voices have been raised in order to underline and enhance the moral dignity of political action in the service of the common good and the close link that a healthy political ethics must have with the Gospel.


the good Samaritan collects and maintains the ’ man attacked on the street by robbers

Today more than one time many, especially young people, understand and appreciate what is noble and admirable devote their lives to the good of others, maybe only on humanitarian grounds, the improvement of the policy, the establishment and promotion of social justice, the defence of the oppressed at the cost of sacrifices and failure and even risk their lives. After the bitter experience of dictatorships of the last century seems to be a widespread loathing, at least in Western countries and noncommunist UN-Islamic or right against the machiavelliano model of the head of State or sovereign or, the political leader. This is not to say that the machiavellism was defeated in society as in the Church. It is then those evil plants sown from original sin, that always reborn if we are not ready to snatch with the remedy of honesty, Justice and charity.

Varazze, 18 May 2015

4 replies
  1. hector says:

    Rev. Dad, Thank you for visiting the Machiavelli saying refuted, turning it according to the moral Christian perspective.
    Eternal, insoluble conflict that stirs the conscience of man, from the garden of Eden until the end of the world. The life, survival is comparison, competition. The story teaches him and everyone experiences it daily when you report with one or more people. Happens at any age and in any social, in family, at school, at work, in business, in politics, in institutions, in the Church.
    On the one hand, the plurality of men (imperfect, sinners): to "Excel" to satisfy craving, personal ambition, spirit of competition, affirmation of pride, always and by all means, at the expense of others.
    On the other hand very few exceptions (Illuminati, santi): committed to serving others to pursue the good (municipality) observing the commandment of Jesus sublime (Love your neighbor as yourself) and with the support of its ineffable divine mercy.
    A commandment that we Christians demanding disattendiamo multiple times every day, without his grace. turned away from worldly enticements.

  2. CS says:

    Dear Father Carlson,

    I think there is a typo in reference to Raab, the third paragraph: references to [Gen 2,1-21] e [Gen 6, 22-25] should be to the book of Joshua in reality, or I am wrong?

    Renewal compliments to both fathers of the island,

    PS: If you wish, you can also publish this comment, I don't think it would add nothing to the article

    • Ariel S. Levi di Gualdo
      Ariel S. Levi di Gualdo says:

      Very expensive.

      Answer I simply because I must apologise with my brother and with readers.
      When I paged the article by Father John Carlson, in between brackets the biblical quotations I wrote above thought “Gen” rather than “GS”.
      Now I am out of the Office, However I already asked Jorge, our attentive sub-editor, to correct this error everything my.
      Thanks for telling reported.

  3. father ariel
    Luca Gentilini says:

    Father Cavalcoli, She and Ariel's father are really two headlights in the dark night.
    Thank you with all my heart.

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