Josiah Ober

Mitsotakis Professor of Classics and Political Science, Stanford University

Fall 2019 Sather Lectures

The Greeks and the Rational: The Discovery of Practical Reason

September 19
Lecture 1. Gyges’ Choice: Rationality and Visibility
Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, 7:00pm

September 26
Lecture 2. Glaucon’s Dilemma: Origins of Social Order
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30pm

October 3
Lecture 3. Deioces’ Ultimatum: How to Choose a King
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30pm

October 10 - CANCELLED

October 17
Lecture 4. Cleisthenes’ Wager: Democratic Rationality
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30pm

October 24
Lecture 5. Melos’ Prospects: Rational Domination
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30pm

October 31
Lecture 6. Agamemnon’s Cluelessness: Reason and Eudaimonia
370 Dwinelle Hall, 5:30pm

Josiah Ober

More about Josiah Ober

After earning his PhD in History at the University of Michigan in 1980, Professor Ober took up positions at Montana State University (1980-1990) and Princeton University (1990-2006) before joining the faculty at Stanford, where he is currently Constantine Mitsotakis Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, with a joint appointment in Classics and Political Science as well as a courtesy appointment in Philosophy.  This transdisciplinary position well reflects the ambitious reach of Professor Ober’s scholarship, which ranges from ancient Greece to the contemporary world and across political and economic theory, cultural studies, philosophy, and the history of democratic institutions.

Professor Ober is the author of about 85 articles and a very long list of game-changing books, including Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens (Princeton, 1989), which won the Goodwin Award (for “best book of the year”) of the Society for Classical Studies (formerly American Philological Association); Democracy and Knowledge (Princeton, 2008), which was named “Best Book in Classics and Ancient History” by the Association of Academic Publishers, included in The Independent’s “Best Ten in History” list, and shortlisted for the Hessell-Titman Prize; The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece (Princeton, 2015), hailed as “a major restatement of our understanding of Classical Greece” and “like no other history of the ancient world”; and most recently Demopolis: Democracy Before Liberalism in Theory and Practice (Cambridge, 2017), based on the Seeley Lectures he delivered at Cambridge in 2015.  His numerous honors include fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Guggenheim Foundation; the 2016 Douglass C. North Research Award of the Society for Institutional and Organizational Economics; and the delivery of the Lee Lecture at Oxford (2008), the Inaugural Lecture in Humanities and Social Sciences for the Norwegian Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009), and the Townsend Lectures at Cornell University (2014). Not just a theorist of institutions, Professor Ober is also a dedicated practitioner who has served as Chair of Classics at Princeton (1993-2000), Chair of Political Science at Stanford (2010-2013), and President of the Society for Classical Studies (2009).