Machiavelli's homeopathic theory of state

Michael Anthony Soupios, Fordham University


This study examines Machiavelli's homeopathic theory of state. The terms "homeopathic" or "homeotherapy" are of medical origin and refer to a form of treatment in which an element similar to the causative agent of a disease is itself used in attempting a cure. It is precisely this approach that we find offered in Machiavelli's political formula. Specifically, he proposes taking the psychological "givens" of human nature--the ills which typically foster chaos in the political domain--and converting these into methods of state. Just as individual men are manipulative, violent, dissimulative, and self-serving, so, in turn, is the state proposed by Machiavelli. Methodologically speaking, the state becomes the individual "writ large"; Machiavelli's new order is in fact a socio-political icon of human psychology. All of this stands in direct opposition to the strategies for political organization proposed in the classical tradition. At no time do we find thinkers such as Plato or Aristotle attempting to employ the malady as part of the cure. Instead, the technique recommended by the ancients might best be described as "allopathic" as opposed to "homeopathic." The allopathic strategy for ordering the state asserts that the diseased portions of human nature must be treated by agents and methods distinct from the disease itself.

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

Soupios, Michael Anthony, "Machiavelli's homeopathic theory of state" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8910762.