This article turns to the neglected pedagogical concept of ingenium in order to address some shortcomings of the admiration-emulation model of Linda Zabzebski’s influential exemplarist moral theory. I will start by introducing the problem of the admiration-emulation model by way of a fictional example. I will then briefly outline the concept of ingenium such as it appears in a Renaissance context, looking particularly at the pedagogical writings of Juan Luis Vives (1492/3–1540). This will set the stage for the next part, look- ing at how early modern philosopher Benedict Spinoza (1632–1677) adopts a Vivesian notion of ingenium, adjusting it so as to fit into the setting of his political theory. Next, I will turn to Spinoza’s use of the concept of ingenium in relation to his portrayal of exemplary persons, offering a pedagogical model of moral exemplarism that can counter same of the perceived problems of the admiration-emulation model as it highlights the necessary fallibility of efficient exemplars as well as acknowledges the socio-political dimension of emotions. Finally, I will lay out some preliminary consequences for educational theory, hoping to offer a way of reconciling moral exemplarism with a more realistic pedagogical and psychological framework.