April 25, 2009
There has been no illustrious captain who did not possess taste and a feeling for the heritage of the human mind. At the root of Alexander's victories one will always find Aristotle.
--Charles de Gaulle, Army of the Future (1934)
However, we know that Alexander's off-the-charts political and personal excesses greatly worried his teacher Aristotle. They also worried his fellow Macedonians. The measured and academic Aristotle was Alexander's opposite. Alexander was well-educated, persistent, confident, smart--a brilliant commander and politician. He was also wild and self-destructive. Plato, Aristotle's mentor, was mystical, poetic, and aristocratic, and more like Alexander in background and personality. A better (or worse) teacher-student match. But Plato died when Alexander was 8, and when Aristotle was only 37.
But you get General de Gaulle's idea. If you want to evaluate a politician, or a leader, ask what he or she knows about (a) world history, and about (b) the old verities that people from Plato and Aristotle to Emerson and Ken Wilbur have offered us.
Posted by JD Hull at April 25, 2009 11:55 PM