Early modern masters of suspicion

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Di Carlo, Andrea
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University College Cork
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This thesis interprets Niccolò Machiavelli, Michel de Montaigne, Francis Bacon, and John Milton, casting them as Masters of Suspicion. The category of ‘Master of Suspicion’ was introduced by Ricœur (1970) to describe how Marx, Nietzsche and Freud approached their respective economic, epistemological and medical contexts. After a recap on the thinking of Ricœur’s own Masters of Suspicion, I will move on to analyse the thinking of Machiavelli, Montaigne, Bacon, and Milton, whom I define as “early modern Masters of Suspicion”, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Bacon, and Milton. In the same way Ricœur analysed the context of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, I will do the same with Niccolò Machiavelli, Michel de Montaigne, Francis Bacon, and John Milton. Machiavelli claimed that politics should not be driven by moral constraints; politics, as such, is a realm independent of morality. Montaigne created a new philosophical and literary genre, the essay, to examine a world that needed to reconsider its foundations. Unlike Machiavelli, he believed that different moral ideas could come together. Bacon claimed that scientific inquiries should not constrained by dogmatic interpretations of Aristotle. As a consequence, he set out to outline a novel method of scientific investigation. I argue in this thesis that Milton, like Machiavelli, Montaigne and Bacon, acted in a similar manner. He reassessed long-standing ideas of sovereignty by showing that even medieval political practices should be reconsidered in the midst of the English Civil War. He emphasised the necessity, like Montaigne, of a more personal “realm” where he could study himself and the changes of his time. Like Bacon, Milton believed that the epistemological obstacles of dogmatic Aristotelianism had to be overcome to allow science to freely flow. By framing Machiavelli, Montaigne, Bacon, Milton as Master of Suspicion, this thesis reconsiders their reception by exploring new possible avenues of research on their political, moral and scientific ideas.
John Milton , Masters of suspicion , Paul Ricœur , Niccolò Machiavelli , Michel de Montaigne , Francis Bacon
Di Carlo, A. 2022. Early modern masters of suspicion. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.