Rarely today does one come across a book of political philosophy that freshly illuminates the nature of reality as well as the great questions informing the western tradition of political reflection. In the face of too much theorizing, the phenomena of moral and political life in all their complexity and amplitude are obscured. The Boston College political theorist Robert Faulkner has written that rare book that helps one see the world better and more deeply. His book is a summa of learning, reflection, and wisdom, the product of a truly mature effort to overcome “those obscuring theories” that get in the way of an appreciation of “honorable or statesmanlike ambition.”

Aristotle reveals the limits of all moral virtue shorn of philosophical reflection.

Faulkner’s starting point is the “big divide” between, on the one hand, “thoughtful...


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