Chiron the Teacher

‘Machiavelli wrote: “You must know that there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first is the method proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man.” And he adds this: “This has been figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as they had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so it is necessary for a prince to know how to make us of both natures, and that one without the other is not durable.”


At the centre of the labyrinth which serves as a tailpiece in [Klossowski’s] Nietzsche et le Cercle vicieux, we will find, not a Minotaur, stupid beast with his monstrous appetite, but a Centaur, a monster more intelligent than the most intelligent of men, the image of the marvellous dissimulation of signs into one another, supreme wisdom which includes the stupidity of bestiality … And if Caesar must be removed from his mother’s womb by opening it up by force, against nature, it is because Caesar, political master, is a monster made of man and beast…

But Sade also says… that a republic government always menaced by the despots surrounding it must have as its sole morality its maintenance by any means, that it is ruled out that the means are all moral, that on the contrary it must be immoral men who by their movement of perpetual insurrection keep the republic government on the alert… Functional duplicity of the sites of luxury as regards the political sphere itself, at once the charge and discharge of energies: criminality, this perpetual mobility of those which Plato, in The Republic, named hornets, and which he wanted to eliminate, provides the government with a twofold service, in the danger presented to it from the excesses of its insatiability, by requiring the institution of criminal spaces which are discharge points for them and for it. Here Sade revives the great Machiavellian tradition of the connivance of the politician and the beast, the tradition of Chiron the Centaur, instructor to Princes, duplicitous political par excellence.’

– Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy, continuum, pp.84 – 87

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