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The Case for GreatnessHonorable Ambition and Its Critics$
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Robert Faulkner

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780300123937

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300123937.001.0001

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The Gentleman-Statesman: Aristotle's (Complicated) Great-Souled Man

The Gentleman-Statesman: Aristotle's (Complicated) Great-Souled Man

(p.16) Chapter Two The Gentleman-Statesman: Aristotle's (Complicated) Great-Souled Man
The Case for Greatness

Robert Faulkner

Yale University Press

This chapter turns its attention to great virtue and its critics. It looks, for example, at Washington's “magnanimity” that appeared to others, Jeffersonian as well as Federalist individuals. To them Washington was good as well as great. How is Washington's ambition serving justice, honor, and duty compared to Xenophon's Cyrus the Great, where these three are turned into instruments of imperial ambition? Napolean, an authority on imperial ambition supposedly lamented on Elba: “They wanted me to be another Washington.” Thus, this chapter questions and explores the factors and differences that set these two distinct sets of characters apart. The combination of such goodness with greatness is difficult to understand. Thus, this chapter investigates the makings of the “great-souled man” in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, which was the first philosophic explication of good character and good judgment.

Keywords:   great virtue, Washington, Cyrus the Great, Xenophon, great-souled man, Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, good character, good judgment

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