Tupac, Donald, and the Prince on means and ends

OK, I get it now. Machiavelli is better-known to my students than Hobbes because Tupac Shakur made him “gangsta” (“Makavelli“), having discovered his hero in prison; and youth loves to epater le bourgeois. Go Rimbaud.

Yesterday was Machiavelli & Hobbes Day in CoPhi, and at last I understand. First a student in section 12 asked if I was familiar with Tupac and whether his Machiavelli was the same.

Then, an older student in section 11 explained to the younger cohort that Tupac was probably more familiar to their parents’ generation. Then she proceeded to endorse the Florentine’s ruthless “whatever it takes, end justifies means” murderous modus operandi. “It makes a lot of sense.”

Maybe it does, in The Donald’s America. (“Trump is also a student of Machiavelli.”) Is that what we’ve come to? Hail to the Gangsta in Chief? No, Machiavelli and Tupac both lost in the end, and Trump will be a loser too. Already is, in his own sense of the word.

Our relation to means and ends, and the reciprocal relation between them, is much more complicated than any of those losers can apparently appreciate. “The point of inquiring into means, and into ends considered as means or causes of further consequences, is not merely to determine how to achieve an end, but to appraise the value of the end itself.” As Calvin learned the hard way from Hobbes.

Podcast
5:30/6:48, 65/85

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