You are here

Alexander Nehamas

Edmund N Carpenter II Class of 1943 Professor in Humanities, Princeton University

Alexander Nehamas a leading scholar of classical studies has been Professor of Humanities and Comparative Literature at Princeton University since 1990. He has been a prominent writer and speaker on Greek philosophy the philosophy of art European philosophy and literary theory.

Nehamas began his studies at Swarthmore College where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1967. He earned his doctorate at Princeton with a dissertation on Plato’s theory of forms in the Phaedo. At Princeton he holds teaching posts in the Department of Classics, and since 2007 the Department of German. He was founding director of the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts (1999–2002) chair of the University’s Council of the Humanities (1994–2002) and director of its Program in Hellenic Studies (1994–2002). Before Princeton Nehamas was a professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania (1986–1990) and the University of Pittsburgh (1971–1986). He has held visiting appointments at the University of California in Berkeley and in Santa Cruz.

As a scholar Nehamas held both a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (1978–1979) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1983–1984). He has received teaching and scholarship awards from Princeton University; the National Polytechnic University Athens 2011; the Mellon Foundation; the International Nietzsche Prize; Academy of Athens; the PEN American Center; Phi Beta Kappa; University of Pennsylvania; and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Two Greek universities, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Athens, awarded him honorary doctorates and he gave Yale’s Tanner Lecturer in 2000.

His 2007 book Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art was named best scholarly book in philosophy by the Association of American Publishers. He was president of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division) from (2003–2004). In addition to advising several humanities departments in academia he has been on the editorial boards of American Philosophical Quarterly; History of Philosophy Quarterly; Ancient Philosophy; Journal of Modern Greek Studies; Arion; Skepsis; and Philosophy and Literature. He also has written for Review of Metaphysics; Philosophical Review; Critical Inquiry; Deukalion; New Literary History; Journal of Philosophy; International Studies in Philosophy; and The Harvard Review of Philosophy.

Many of his one-hundred journal articles and fifty book reviews have been reprinted often in anthologies. He also has produced several original book chapters encyclopedia entries and has edited four books. Nehamas has spoken widely in conferences and seminars on Plato, Nietzsche, and the role of beauty aesthetics poetry and tragedy in modern studies and in contemporary life. A former contributor to The New Republic, he also popularized philosophical topics on radio. His books include new translations of Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus as well as Virtues of Authenticity: Essays on Plato and Socrates (1999); The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault (1998); and Nietzsche: Life as Literature (1985).

  • —L. Witham