chapter  3
48 Pages

The Mastering of Fortune: Machiavelli, Masculinity, and the Subject of Virtù

ByAndrew Herman

In this chapter, the author argues that a genealogical "history of the present" that links together past and contemporary formations of the moral economy of wealth is necessitated by the presence of what he term the " Niccolo Machiavellian uncanny. The author examines the discursive field which gave rise to the autonomous male individual whose secular virtue was manifested in the taming and mastering of fortune. He discusses the ambivalent meanings of autonomy as sovereignty, the phenomenological "centering" of the autonomous male individual through the development of linear perception, the new bourgeois subject and the cult of virtu, and the articulation of these three aspects of the Renaissance social imaginary with the "active" virtues of commerce and republican citizenship. The author explores Machiavelli's own conjuring of the moral characters of Founder and Citizen. He concludes that Machiavelli's civic republican discourse displaces wealth as a sign of virtue from the social imaginary of nascent capitalism.