In Pursuit of Excellence

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Muhammad Ali said it, “I am the greatest of all time!” And then he backed it up with his fists. At least to the satisfaction of everyone who hadn’t seen Joe Louis fight in his prime. Defining greatness, the highest human achievement in the arts and sciences has always been a subjective game floating along on winds of the zeitgeist.

O.K. Shakespeare and Michelangelo are above everybody else but after them? And how do you compare across cultures? Is Dante an objectively better poet than Basho? Sociologist Charles Murray says statistical science can offer proof of who’s the top, the Colosseum, the Louvre, museum of artists and scientists.


Charles Murray, author of “Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950″

Bonnie Smith, Professor of History at Rutgers University