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Machiavelli and Comments on Mecosystem

Updated on August 21, 2011

The basic theme of the play is that people should not follow their morals because morality just gets in the way of people's happiness. Let me make it clear that I am not supporting Machiavelli's theme in Mandragola because it argues man should kill, steal, and lie to get ahead. I generally knew this about Machiavelli before reading Mandragola because in high school in my English and History classes I learned about his most favorite work The Prince. However, I am going to argue Mandragola does highlight an important problem with man's understanding of morality. As I already stated the theme of Mandragola is that morality makes people unhappy. The important question to ask here is whether or not morality should make people unhappy? The answer is obviously no. The reason morals are developed are so people can have a rational guide to living happier lives. Though the real theme of Mandragola is that no one should follow any morals what people should gather from Mandragola is that maybe the morals Machiavelli is commenting on are wrong. In Mandragola the two moral systems challenged are that of religion, specifically the Catholic church, and classical virtue, meaning the virtues of people like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle.

If one compares the theme of Mandragola to the message of the Catholic church and the classics there is a major difference aside from the fact that one argues for amorality while the other argues for morality. The major difference is Mandragola argues people should be happy while the Catholic church and the classics argue people should be better. "Better" for the Catholic church means satisfying God, and "better" for the classics means being virtuous determined by objective truth. The the classics' definition of "better" is certainly more admirable than the Catholic church's, but they are both utterly wrong. Both the Catholic church and the classics' argued for altruistic morality, which actually makes people more miserable. One should consider whether being "better" should make him more miserable, or happier.

As I understand the purpose of life is to be happy; therefore, being "better" should make one happy not miserable. This means the stereotypical understanding of morality, altruistic morality, defined by religions like Catholicism and the classics' is wrong. This is exactly what people should gather from Mandragola. Though Machiavelli's characters lie throughout Mandragola they are more closely following rational selfish morality than irrational altruistic morality; therefore, there is some merit to the theme of Mandragola. My favorite part, and also the most convincing part, in the play is when Callimaco, through lying which is not virtuous mind you, finally ends up in bed with, Lucrezia, the woman he has been pining after. Lucrezia then explains that she hates her husband and likes Callimaco far better, and decides to abandon her arbitrary religious morality to sleep with Callimaco and be happy. I immediately thought of the relationship between Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Before I move on let me reiterate one more time that I do not entirely agree with the theme of Mandragola. Even when Lucrezia speaks with Callimaco about choosing him to be happy she says some other things which I do not particularly care for. Also, the rampant lying used to accomplish the task is not admirable.

In regards to MEcosystem this concept actually comes from Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio. I believe he specifically addresses the concept in podcast 996, and as I understand it MEcosystem encompasses all the elements of one's self. However, Molyneux argues many of an average person's self elements are repressed; therefore, the average person does not have a functioning MEcosystem. Basically, like an ecosystem needs specific plants, animals, climates, etc. to function properly a person needs every element of his self in order to function properly. It appears Molyneux is seriously developing a topic I have considered. I have argued that most people are not happy because they have been conditioned not to think.

Through school, interactions with friends, school, etc. people have been conditioned to accept stereotypes about life, such as altruism is a virtue. In turn people do not really know how to live because they have never really thought about life, their purpose, morality, truth, etc.; they just go through the motions of the stereotypes they have accepted without thought. Molyneux develops this idea far beyond what I have considered. I admit I do not have a complete grasp on Molyneux's argument as of yet. From what I can tell Molyneux starts off with a point similar to mine: school and family repress certain elements of an individual's self. He continues to argue that just cause these elements are repressed does not mean they are dead. He compares these repressed elements to the private sector in a communist society. Just because the government represses the private sector does not mean it is destroyed. Instead the private sector goes into the black market. In other words, Molyneux is saying an individual's repressed elements are operating, but he does not know they are operating and their operation is limited. A specific element he says is in an individual's "black market" is creativity. I would also argue thinking. Molyneux argues, and I agree, what repressed creativity and thinking was sitting people in rows and having a man write stuff on a board to copy. I would agree the style of education does repress these elements, and I would argue privatizing all education would solve this problem. However, that is a discussion for another day. In regards to the point that the repressed elements are not dead but in a "black market" indicates that these elements do convey themselves occasionally. According to Molyneux, it is in our instinctual emotional responses that these elements present themselves. I do not believe Molyneux is speaking about an average person's emotional response to hearing generic disaster on the news or to some stranger saying he just experienced a tragedy. I believe those are conditioned responses that are actually killing the MEcosystem. I am sure Molyneux is speaking about self criticism, anger, and annoyance. The problem is what schools and families have conditioned people to do represses those responses, so they rarely reveal themselves and when they do the person is confused as to what he is feeling and tries to ignore it. Basically, the individual tries to repress it himself partly because he is confused as to what it is, and also because he has been conditioned to repress such feelings. I thought about my past week and discovered a few examples of a raw emotion hitting me, and my response was just to explain it away instead of understand it.

Obviously, since I am concerned with living consciously I should be concerned with understanding raw emotions. I did not believe I was unknowingly conditioned, but it appears I have been. In turn I try to understand these emotions know, meaning I try to understand what they are telling me about myself and what I think of other people. I found it difficult to discover any certain answers. Molyneux attributes this to the elements "black market" behavior. It is as if the elements know they are illegal. This does not mean they try to avoid operating, but they try to avoid being repressed. Molyneux compared addressing the elements blatantly to a DEA officer walking down the streets of a drug neighborhood saying, "The drug war is over. It is safe to come out." The drug dealers will not come out because they will believe it is a ploy so the government can just arrest them. The problem is the same with the individual's "black market" self. He cannot just start thinking about them or trying to discover them because they will run away. They will believe it is a ploy just so the individual, school, family, etc. can repress them when they come out. I am speaking as if these elements have their own brains, which is of course irrational. In actuality it is probably more like an individual's brain conducting damage control. It wants to preserve as many of its elements as possible, even the repressed ones, so when part of it is looking for the "black market" other parts of the brain warn the "black market" to go into hiding. I am not exactly sure how to best address these repressed elements. I was somewhat confused by Molyneux's explanation, but I believe he was saying they have to be addressed humbly. He compared it to praying. He actually argues that since there is no God praying is actually just appealing to one's repressed elements. Basically, one must weaken his other elements, especially the repressive ones, so that the repressed elements come out of hiding. In other words, the black market will come out of the alleys and into the street if the government is weak, crippled, or destroyed. Of course the object of addressing these repressed elements is so that they become liberated. It is somewhat like un-conditioning one's self, or in a sense re-conditioning; freeing and utilizing the repressed elements with a good stimulus. The ultimate goal is that people will be happier because all the elements of their MEcosystem will be operating; therefore, the MEcosystem will actually function properly.

This is of course a long process because it is the exact opposite of what people have learned. I myself am somewhat daunted by the task, but I want to understand and control every element of my self. Having a "black market" operating in myself is no good because then I cannot utilize that market for my own happiness. This is of course somewhat confusing the metaphor because it sounds like my solution to liberating the "black market" is a bigger and more powerful government. I guess a more appropriate metaphor in this case is that the person is a business and for years the business has been told not to use certain employees cause they were radical. In turn the business kept sending the employees down to the basement where they would no interact with the daily tasks of the business. Whenever the CEO tries to find them, they hide because they think they are just going to be sent deeper into the basement. Now the CEO wants to find them to bring them back into the offices because now he realizes the company would function much better and be more profitable if the repressed employees were now working.


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