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. This will set the stage for the next part, looking at how early modern philosopher Benedict Spinoza 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 some 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.