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Other responsesTolstoy's War and Peace features criticism of Great Man Theories as a recurring theme in the philosophical digressions. According to Tolstoy, the significance of great individuals is imaginary; as a matter of fact they are only history's slaves realizing the decree of Providence.[20]

Among modern critics of the theory, Sidney Hook is supportive of the idea; he gives credit to those who shape events through their actions, and his book The Hero in History is devoted to the role of the hero and in history and influence of t

Among modern critics of the theory, Sidney Hook is supportive of the idea; he gives credit to those who shape events through their actions, and his book The Hero in History is devoted to the role of the hero and in history and influence of the outstanding persons.[21]

In the introduction to a new edition of On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History, David R. Sorensen notes the modern decline in support for Carlyle's theory in particular but also for "heroic distinction" in general.[22] He cites Robert Faulkner as an exception, a proponent of Aristotelian magnanimity who in his book The Case for Greatness: Honorable Ambition and Its Critics, criticises the political bias in discussions on greatness and heroism, stating: "the new liberalism’s antipathy to superior statesmen and to human excellence is peculiarly zealous, parochial, and antiphilosophic."[23]

Before the 19th-century, Pascal begins his Three Discourses on the Condition of the Great (written it seems for a young duke) by telling the story of a castaway on an island whose inhabitants take him for their missing king. He defends in his parable of the shipwrecked king, that the legitimacy of the greatness of great men is fundamentally custom and chance. A coincidence that gives birth to him in the right place with noble parents and arbitrary custom deciding, for example, on an unequal distribution of wealth in favor of the nobles.[24]