Excellence Unleashed

Excellence Unleashed : Machiavelli's Critique of Xenophon and the Moral Foundation of Politics

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What is Machiavelli's place in the history of political thought? Did he seek to revive the civic virtues espoused by ancient Greek and Roman political theorists, or was he an intellectual rebel whose radical critique of the classical philosophic tradition made him a harbinger of the modern era? Almost every significant book on Machiavelli since the beginning of the twentieth century has addressed the question of his relation to classical thought in one form or another. Yet, there has never been a comprehensive study of the relationship between Machiavelli and Xenophon, the classical political theorist whose shrewd analysis of effective politics comes closest to Machiavelli's. Excellence Unleashedis a detailed comparison of Machiavelli and Xenophon's political philosophy, focusing on Xenophon's Education of Cyrus and Hiero or On Tyranny and Machiavelli's The Prince and Discourses on Livy. This study examines a number of major themes essential to both writers: the moral and political requirements of healthy republics; imperial expansion; the relationship between human nature, politics, and virtue; the role of religion in politics; the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate rule; and the influence of philosophy on politics. By elucidating the remarkable scope, depth, and subtlety of the debate between these two great thinkers, this book offers a fresh perspective on the philosophic and political significance of Machiavelli's proto-modern break from the classical tradition.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Lexington Books
  • MD, United States
  • English
  • 073913311X
  • 9780739133118

About Paul J Rasmussen

Paul J. Rasmussen holds a Ph.D. in political theory from the University of Toronto. He has taught at Baruch College, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and California State UniversityDSan Bernardino. He is currently working on a book about the history of patriotism.show more

Review quote

Excellence Unleashed is an analysis at once compact and penetrating of Machiavelli's critique of Xenophon. . . . Ramussen's book is undoubtedly a valuable addition to the literature on Machiavelli and Xenophon. His prose is remarkably clear and hisanalyses are forceful, convincing and well grounded in the texts he considers. When it comes to the qualities characteristic of contemporary academic writing, lucidity is in the underrepresented minority. Rasmussen's prose exemplifies this virtue as it explores two authors who delight us even as they quicken our thoughts. His crispformulations make familiar points seem new, and he then goes beyond them by establishing such new connections as the relationship between Machiavelli's critique of Xenophon and his critique of Christianity. This tour de force is accurately described by its own title...--Wayne Ambler, director of the Herbst Program of Humanities at the University of Colorado at Boulder Excellence Unleashed is a fine comparison of Machiavelli and his favorite classical author Xenophon that is long overdue. Rasmussen accompanies his careful analysis with useful strictures and shrewd insights.....--Harvey C. Mansfield, professor of government, Harvard Universityshow more

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