Nitze Senior FellowsSophie Delaunay
T. R. Reid
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
David E. Sanger
Edward P. Jones
Thomas Penfield Jackson
Benjamin L. Cardin
Paul H. Nitze Senior Fellow 2003-04
Josiah Ober, Professor of Classics, and of the Center for Human Values, Princeton University
Josiah Ober, the David Magie Class of 1897 Professor of Ancient History in the Department of Classics at Princeton University, and a member of the faculty at the University's Center for Human Values.
His books include:
- Fortress Attica: Defense of the Athenian Land Frontier, 404-322 B.C. (1985)
- Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens: Rhetoric, Ideology, and the Power of the People (1989)
- The Anatomy of Error: Ancient Military Disasters and Their Lessons for Modern Strategists, with Barry S. Strauss (1992)
- The Athenian Revolution: Essays on Ancient Greek Democracy and Political Theory (1996)
- Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule (1998)
- A Company of Citizens: What the World's First Democracy Teaches Leaders about Creating Great Organizations, with Brook Manville (2003)
Nitze Scholars read this last book for the NITZ 181-Leadership Tutorial in spring 2004.
On his three visits to St. Mary's, Professor Ober gave three talks (in addition to visiting with classes, meeting and dining with students and faculty, and even going on a charter fishing boat into the Chesapeake):
1. "Patriot or Traitor? Socrates and the Ancient Struggle between Political Criticism and Citizenship"
Can one criticize the government and still be considered a good citizen? Should a democracy discourage political dissent? Ober pointed out that in the United States there are the same opposing pulls that there were in ancient Athens of being a loyal citizen and being a critic of government policies. Using the trial of Socrates in 399 B.C.E. as an historical precedent, he argued that charges made at this trial are similar to some heard today and that, in Socrates' trial, criticism of the status quo was equated with treason. Ober further stated that, especially in times of new challenges, democratic societies must struggle to balance the toleration of political dissent with the need to keep the society intact and coherent.
2. "Democratic Imperialism: Back to the Future of an Oxymoron?"
In his talk, Ober discussed several issues about a democratic nation's desire to extend its authority and influence through acquisition of other territories: Does democracy somehow promote a tendency to imperialism? Would the new rule by a democratic nation be better or more harsh than existing home governments? What experiences can we look to in the ancient world to come to grips with the conditions of our own troubled world?
3. "Plato's Beautiful City: Happy Pigs, Freedom-Loving Donkeys & the Mystery of the Human Soul."
Plato's most famous and influential work, the Republic, inaugurated the western tradition of utopian thinking. Philosophers have sometimes felt that the utopian "beautiful city" described by Plato in this dialogue was more of a nightmare. In the course of this work, Plato contrasts his ideal city -- a simple, happy "city of pigs" -- with the real city of Athens, characterized by its pushy donkeys. Throughout there is a tension between the city as a possible society and as a model for the human soul. The dialogue insistently demands of us, as did Ober in his talk: could we live in the beautiful city? Would we really want to?
[Since his tenure as Nitze Senior Fellow, Professor Ober has moved, in 2006, to Stanford University, where he is currently the Constantine Mitsotakis Chair of Classics and Political Science. Since his year here, he as published two additional books:
- Athenian Legacies: Essays on the Politics of Going on Together (2005)
- Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens (2008)]