In addition to being infamously honored by a negatively perceived adjective, "Machiavellian," having been named after him, Niccolo Machiavelli is known for his critique of moralistic political theory, his "guide books" regarding the maintenance of state power and his often discomforting pragmatic disregard for ethics in his written advice to the rulers of his time. Some later thinkers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, believe that Machiavelli's true contribution to political and philosophical thought was to expose rather than celebrate the lack of ethics prevalent in governance. Some modern scholars point out that Machiavelli's success at writing popular and biting stage comedies is evidence of his satirical side and his political observations should also be considered in this light.
One of Machiavelli's accomplishments is that he is sometimes viewed as a prototype of the modern empirical investigator or scientist. He built his generalizations from his first-hand experiences within the realm of Renaissance politics and from historical facts. Machiavelli emphasized the uselessness of imaginative theorizing and instead noted, in a realistic manner, how political power could be effectively maintained. He simply described what rulers really did to maintain their states, and he did so in a "scientific spirit" while ignoring any questions regarding whether those actions were good or bad. In this respect, it could be said that his objective was to discover and to observe what was really happening, and that he preferred to view the world from an empirical and realistic, rather than idealistic, perspective.Learn More
The Balkans were known as the "Powder Keg of Europe" because of its constant disagreements regarding land distribution and an extreme sense of nationalism, which made the area a hot bed for small conflicts and larger wars. The Balkans had this title throughout the beginning of the 20th century, before World War I.Full Answer >
The Berlin Wall, which surrounded West Berlin, was 96 miles long. Of this perimeter, the border between West Berlin and surrounding East Germany was 69.5 miles, while the border between East and West Berlin was 26.8 miles.Full Answer >
The gargoyles on Notre Dame cathedral were built as water spouts to prevent damage to the masonry by deflecting rainwater from the sides of the building. After the installation of drain pipes in the 16th century, the gargoyles were merely ornamental.Full Answer >
The fundamental purposes of the European Union are to promote greater social, political and economic harmony among the nations of Western Europe. The EU reasons that nations whose economies are interdependent are less likely to engage in conflict. These goals are pursued through the unification of European markets under a single currency, the Euro, and through sets of legal standards to which all prospective and member nations, are held. Supranational institutions work with national governments to govern the implementation of these standards and help the EU to act as a unified body on the world stage.Full Answer >