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The advent of democracy in nineteenth-century Europe was resisted by a set of thinkers who shared an 'aristocratic vision'. These aristocratic thinkers rejected the view that the greater good of the majority was of greater value than some higher good of a smaller number. It was the noble minority that was the more valuable part of society. This view corresponds in part to the philosophical tradition known as perfectionism. Matthew Arnold and Friedrich Nietzsche, thinkers rarely considered together, represent significant exemplars of the liberal and radical versions of the aristocratic vision, and their similarities and differences are representative of the broad spectrum of aristocratic thought. Their common rejection of philistinism was part of an aristocratic vision of cultural perfection which was, Alexis de Tocqueville suggested, the natural reaction of a minority against the overwhelming materialism of democratic society.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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