Aristocratic Souls in Democratic Times
JMC fellows Richard Avramenko and Ethan Alexander-Davey co-edited a book together, Aristocratic Souls in Democratic Times. The book explores how aristocratic virtues, such as excellence and beauty, interact with customs of liberal democracies. JMC fellow Jeffrey Church’s has a chapter in the book, “Nietzsche on Aristocracy and the Meaning of Life.”
About the Book
Great statesmen and gentlemen, men of honor and rank, seem to be phenomena of a bygone Aristocratic era. Aristocracies, which emphasize rank, and value difference, quality, beauty, rootedness, continuity, stand in direct contrast to democracies, which value equality, autonomy, novelty, standardization, quantity, utility and mobility. Is there any place for aristocratic values and virtues in the modern democratic social and political order? This volume consists of essays by political theorists, historians, and literary theorists that explore this question in the works of aristocratic thinkers, both ancient and modern. The volume includes analyses of aristocratic virtues, interpretations of aristocratic assemblies and constitutions, both historic and contemporary, as well as critiques of liberal virtues and institutions. Essays on Tacitus, Hobbes, Burke, Tocqueville, Nietzsche, as well as some lesser known figures, such as Henri de Boulainvilliers, John Randolph of Roanoke, Louis de Bonald, Konstantin Leontiev, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Richard Weaver, and the Eighth Duke of Northumberland, explore ways of preserving and adapting the salutary aspects of the aristocratic ethos to the needs of modern liberal societies.
Richard Avramenko (Ph.D. Georgetown, 2005) has taught both Political Science and Integrated Liberal Studies at the University of Wisconsin since the Fall of 2005. His main areas of interest are ancient and continental political thought. He teaches Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Politics and Literature, Ancient and Medieval Political Thought, the Romance of War, Nietzsche, Methods of Political Theory, or whatever strikes him as interesting and appropriate.
Avramenko has written articles on topics such as Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, St. Augustine, Dostoevsky, Tocqueville, Nietzsche, Voegelin, Heidegger, Canadian identity politics, mortgage and housing policy. He is the author of Courage: The Politics of Life and Limb, and has co-edited books on friendship (Friendship and Politics: Essays in Political Thought), Dostoevsky (Dostoevsky’s Political Thought), and aristocratic political thought (Aristocratic Souls in Democratic Times) and is currently working on a new book manuscript: The Crush of Democracy: Tocqueville and the Egalitarian Mind.
Ethan Alexander-Davey received his Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. His current book manuscript examines the relationship between nationalism and constitutional self-government in the political thought of four European nations: the Netherlands, England, France and Russia. He teaches courses primarily in the history of political thought. After spending the 2013-2014 academic year at Washington University in St. Louis, Ethan accepted a post-doctoral position at the University of Virginia.
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