Sunday, April 10, 2016
When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? Stanford University classicist and political scientist, Josiah Ober, will discuss how a reexamination of democracy’s origins sheds light on its values and limitations in contemporary politics.
Combining a history of Athens with contemporary theories of collective action and rational choice developed by economists and political scientists, Josiah Ober will examine Athenian democracy’s unique contribution to the ancient Greek city-state’s remarkable success, and demonstrate the valuable lessons Athenian political practices hold for us today. He will argue that the key to Athens’s success lay in how the city-state managed and organized the aggregation and distribution of knowledge among its citizens. Josiah Ober will reveal how ancient Greek politics can help us transcend the democratic dilemmas that confront the world today.
Professor of Political Science and Classics, Stanford University
Josiah Ober, Mitsotakis Professor in the School of Humanities and Science, works on historical institutionalism and political theory, focusing on the political thought and practice of the ancient Greek world and its contemporary relevance. He is the author of a number of books mostly published by Princeton University Press, including “Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens” (1989), “Political Dissent in Democratic Athens” (2008), “Democracy and Knowledge” (2008). He has also published about 75 articles and chapters, including recent articles in “American Political Science Review,” “Philosophical Studies,” “Hesperia,” “Polis,” and “Transactions of the American Philological Association.” His new book on “The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece” will appear in Spring 2015, from Princeton UP. It documents and explains the remarkable Greek efflorescence of ca. 800-300 BCE, the Macedonian conquest of the late fourth century, and the persistence of economic flourishing into the Hellenistic era.
Introductory Remarks By Dr. Jonathan Elmer
Jonathan Elmer is the Marilynn Thoma Artistic Director of the Chicago Humanities Festival. He is also professor of English at Indiana University, Bloomington (IU), and Director of the College Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI). He earned a BA from Yale University and a PhD from University of California, Berkeley. He has published widely on all periods of American culture and literature, and on figures as various as Thomas Jefferson, Richard Wright, and Jeff “the Dude” Lebowski. He is a leading expert on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, and his current research explores how the notion of “play” fundamentally transformed the art, culture, and business of the 20th century.
This program is made possible by a generous donation from Grecian Delight Foods and the Parthenis Families.
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