The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Citation of Books Detail

Click here to return to the main list

Author QuotedMaurice Merleau-Ponty
Title QuotedSignes
Date (Year/Month/Day)1964/01/25
Imprint[Paris] : Gallimard. [1960]
Quotation"C'est la ruse majeure du pouvoir de persuader les hommes qu'ils gagnent quand ilperdent" ["The major trick or deception used by power is to persuade men that they are winning when they are losing," Signes, p. 272], says Merleau-Ponty, commenting on Machiavelli. And he commends the honesty of Machiavelli for admitting that social conflict is the basis of all power. Also that the prince must not become the prisoner of a virtuous image of himself that would obstruct action made necessary by a sudden new aspect of the struggle for power. "Veritable force d'Ame puisqu'il s'agit, entre la volonte de plaire et de defi"¦de concevoir une enterprise historique à laquelle tous puissent se joindr" ["True strength of soul is needed, since in between the will to please and defiance, it is necessary to conceive an historic enterprise in which all can join," Signes, p. 275]. On this historic magnanimity and altruism (everyone gets in on the power project) Merleau-Ponty bases his defense of Machiavelli as a realistic moralist. It establishes a genuine relationship, while the moralizing politician remains aloof. The realist accepts distance but mediates through it.
Quotation SourceDancing in the Water of Life: Seeking Peace in the Hermitage. The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 5, 1963-1965.; Edited by Robert E. Daggy. / San Francisco : Harper Collins. 1997, p. 67
Link to Merton's Copy