Machiavelli's Reason of State
The concept of reason of state that Niccolo Machiavelli suggested when his works are viewed as a whole represented an essential element of the emerging paradigms of the modern era. It operated to sever political entities from religious domination, which was characteristic of governance during the Middle Ages. As such, it was a manifestation of a shift in political thought and perceptions that was necessary to establish the independence of political systems that permit them to evolve after the largely static medieval period. Machiavelli, in works such as The Prince, generally presents this break with the past political paradigms as a matter of necessity, which serves to some degree to divorce it from values. In addition, he outlines the fundamental parameters by which the new state should operate in this new political environment. To minimize the seeming radical nature of the position, he draws extensively on historical examples to show that the best rulers of the past often operated not only independently from religious or moral precepts, but frequently subordinated religion and morality to the needs of the state.
In order to establish a rational for this deviation from the widely accepted norms regarding the proper method of governance common in the later medieval period, it was necessary to formulate a set of postulates or assumptions regarding the state that were different from those underlying the reason of morality or the reason of religion. Throughout his works, Machiavelli demonstrates the value of governing by principles created from the point of view of a different objective than those espoused by religious or moral virtues. From this perspective, the primary goal of the ruler is to foment a stable political environment in the real world of human beings and not to achieve a spiritual or moral benefit that has implications only for the intangible and abstract world that is the realm of religion and morality.
Although Machiavelli is often credited in term papers with the introduction of the concept of reason of state into Western political thought, the idea that there existed a separate reason associated with governance had been an element of late medieval political thought.