Equality and Excellence in Ancient and Modern Political Philosophy

Edited by Steven Frankel & John Ray

Subjects: Political Philosophy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Politics
Hardcover : 9781438492780, 264 pages, April 2023
Paperback : 9781438492797, 264 pages, October 2023

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Table of contents

Steven Frankel and John Ray

1. Pursuing the Forms: Equality and Excellence in Plato’s Republic and Symposium
Stephanie A. Nelson

2. Equality and Excellence in the Education of Cyrus
Nathan Tarcov

3. Splendid Equality in the Nicomachean Ethics: Munificence
Ann Charney Colmo

4. How Excellence Bows to Equality in Aristotle’s Politics
Mary P. Nichols

5. First among Equals: Philosophers, Statesmen, and Citizens in Spinoza’s Democracy
Steven Frankel

6. Excellence and Equality in Fénelon’s Telemachus
Ryan Patrick Hanley

7. The Seductive Dangers of Equality and Excellence: The Moderating Wisdom of Montesquieu’s Science of Ovidian Metamorphosis
Frank J. Rohmer

8. Equality and Excellence in Rousseau’s Emile, Book III
Pamela K. Jensen

9. Hegel’s Evaluation of Liberalism: Equality of Rights without Human Excellence
Andrea E. Ray

10. Democracy, Nobility, and Freedom: The Political and Moral Aesthetics of Tocqueville
John C. Koritansky

11. Does Kierkegaard Have a Concept of Excellence?
Christopher A. Colmo

12. Nietzsche: The Indignity of Equality
Timothy Sean Quinn

13. The Good and the Excellent: John Rawls’s Egalitarian Liberalism
Michael Zuckert


Interpretations of critically important texts in political philosophy from Greek antiquity to modern times on the tension between human excellence and equality and its possible resolution.


Is it possible to reconcile human excellence with a dedication to equality? Equality and Excellence in Ancient and Modern Political Philosophy explores the meaning, conflict, and potential resolution of the tension between human excellence and equality in the thought of philosophers from Greek antiquity to modern times. Each chapter is devoted to the thought of a particular thinker, and the chapters are arranged chronologically. Interpretations offered here rely on close readings of the major texts by critically important thinkers from Plato, Aristotle and Xenophon in antiquity to a broad range of modern thinkers from Spinoza to Rawls.

Steven Frankel is Professor of Philosophy at Xavier University. He is coeditor (with Martin D. Yaffe) of Civil Religion in Modern Political Philosophy: Machiavelli to Tocqueville. John Ray is Associate Professor of Political Science at Xavier University. He is coeditor (with Steven Frankel) of French Studies: Literature, Culture and Politics.


"This comprehensive volume combines good writing, a sensitivity to texts leavened by an appreciation of enduring human questions, and an admirable resistance to ideological readings of the Western political tradition. Connecting philosophical and scholarly concerns to common life, it shines impressive light on the persistent tensions, affinities, and competing demands of equality and excellence in human nature and in decent and free societies." — Daniel J. Mahoney, author of The Idol of Our Age: How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity