Steven Smith – Defending Politics

11 August 2014 (Monday), 4.30pm - 6.00pm
Professor Steven Smith

Venue: RC4, Level B1, Seminar Rooms 1/2

In his latest book Political Philosophy Professor Smith asks: Who ought to govern? Why should I obey the law? How should conflict be controlled? What is the proper education for a citizen and a statesman? These questions probe some of the deepest and most enduring problems that every society confronts, regardless of time and place. Today we ask the same crucial questions about law, authority, justice, and freedom that Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Tocqueville faced in previous centuries. Steven Smith shows how works by the greatest thinkers illuminate the permanent problems of political life, and while we may not accept all their conclusions, it would be a mistake to overlook the relevance of their insights.

All on campus are welcome to join Professor Smith to engage with the broad questions raised in his writing; ; hosted by Professor Christina Tarnopolsky.

About Steven Smith

Steven B. Smith is the Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and has taught at Yale since 1984. He has served as Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science, Director of the Special Program in the Humanities, and Acting Chair of Judaic Studies and from 1996-2011 served as the Master of Branford College. His research has focused on the history of political philosophy with special attention to the problem of the ancients and moderns, the relation of religion and politics, and theories of representative government.

Professor Smith’s best known publications include Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism (1989), Spinoza, Liberalism, and Jewish Identity (1997), Spinoza’s Book of Life (2003), Reading Leo Strauss (2006), and The Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss (2009). His anthology, The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, was published in 2012 and his book of lectures titled Political Philosophy was published by Yale University Press in 2013.

Professor Smith has received several academic awards and prizes including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize given by Phi Beta Kappa, but is most proud of receiving the Lex Hixon ‘63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2009.

“I would never be so arrogant as to describe myself as a philosopher. At most I am a teacher of political philosophy. The term “philosopher” I reserve for people like Plato, Spinoza, and Hegel. At best, this is something that most of the rest of us can merely aspire to be.”

Professor Smith is a die-hard Yankees fan and hopes to be able to play for the team in the next life.