Finally, at long last, a new Great Ideas post!
Thorin Oakenshield, noble prince of Dwarves
Today’s post is on Idea #3: Aristocracy
First, a bit of history. The Great Ideas list was gathered by Mortimer Adler of the University of Chicago. He is the person who compiled the Great Books list that is used by St. John’s College and by Britannica for their Great Books Collection. He defined a Great Book as a book that had had a seminal influence on society and on the writers and philosophers who came after.
Adler analyzed these books to see what made them great. He discovered that Great Books contain Great Ideas. He made a list of these ideas.
The third idea is Aristocracy, which means: rule by the best. This is the concept that the best of men rule over the rest of mankind, and that they hold their superior position by right of their superior natures.
We would all like to be ruled by the best of men. Far better than being ruled by dweebs! But how do we find these men? The word Aristocracy is most often associated with the belief that people are born better or worse and that the sons of the best of men will be better than the sons of lesser men.
Much could be said on the topic, but today we are examining the subject as writers. In the real world, I doubt anyone will argue with me if I say it’s pretty clear that virtue is not conveyed by birth. But in our fictional world, we authors have control over whether or not this is the case.
If we wish our princesses to be the best of women, they will be. If we wish all aristocrats to be slovenly pigs, they will be.
A writers stance can be pro or con. Or even, both at the same time. Let’s look at both approaches separately.