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Josiah Ober


Professor of Classics
Professor of Political Science
PhD University of Michigan 1980

Contact Information: 

Email: jober@stanford.edu
Office: Encina West 100
Mailcode: 2145

Office Hours: 

Mondays 2:00-3:30 in Room 403 W Encina, or by appt.


Josiah Ober holds the Constantine Mitsotakis Chair in the School of Humanities and Sciences. He divides his time and academic appointment between the Departments of Classics and Political Science, and has a courtesy appointment in Philosophy. He writes and teaches courses on various topics conjoining Greek history, classical philosophy, and political theory and practice. His most recent books are Democratic Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens (Princeton, 2008) and Athenian Legacies: Essays on the Politics of Going On Together (Princeton, 2005). In addition to his ongoing work on the politics of knowledge and innovation, he is developing projects on rational cooperation in the Greek world on the relationship between democracy and dignity.

Josh has authored or co-authored a number of other books, including Fortress Attica (1985), Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens (1989), The Athenian Revolution (1996), Political Dissent in Democratic Athens (1998). His writing for popular audiences includes The Anatomy of Error: Ancient Military Disasters and Their Lessons for Modern Strategists (1990 with Barry Strauss), A Company of Citizens: What the World's First Democracy Teaches Leaders about Building Great Organizations (2003 with Brook Manville). He has held residential fellowships at the National Humanities Center, Center for Hellenic Studies, Univ. of New England (Australia), Clare Hall (Cambridge), Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, and Univ. of Sydney; research fellowships from the ACLS, NEH, and Guggenheim; and has been a Visiting faculty at University of Michigan, Paris I-Sorbonne 2000, and UC-Irvine. Before coming to Stanford he taught at Montana State University (1980-1990), and Princeton University (1990-2006).

political science department address

Department of Political Science
100 Encina Hall West 
616 Serra 
Stanford CA 94305-6044


"Aristotle's natural democracy." Published in R. Kraut and S. Skultety (eds.), Aristotle's Politics: Critical Essays Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield 2005), 223-243. (PDF)

"Philosophy, History and Democracy." review of article by John R.Wallach, The Platonic Political Art: A Study of Critical Reason and Democracy. (PDF)

"A Judicious Study of Discernible Reality." review of article by G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, Athenian Democratic Origins and Other Essays, edited by David Harvey and Robert Parker. (PDF)

"'I Besieged that Man.' Democracy's Revolutionary Start." Published in K. Raaflaub, J. Ober, and R. Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (University of Calfornia Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles), 83-104. (PDF)

"Solon and the Horoi: Facts on the Ground in Archaic Athens"

"Law and Political Theory"

"Toward Open Access in Ancient Studies The Princeton-Stanford Working Papers in Classics University."

"Thucydides and the Invention of Political Science"

"From Epistemic Diversity to Common Knowledge: Rational Rituals and Cooperation in Democratic Athens"

"Natural capacities and democracy as a good-in-itself"

Current Projects: 
Rational Cooperation in Classical Greek Political Thought
The Emergence of Cooperation

Selected Publications