Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Economic thinking in the Socratic authors and Aristotle

This subproject of 'From Homo Economicus to Political Animal' analyzes Greek economic thinking in late 5th- and 4th-century philosophical circles.

2021 - 2025
Tazuko van Berkel
NWO Vidi NWO Vidi


We are looking for an excellent, highly motivated, enterprising and enthusiastic PhD candidate to join the project team. Job description and information for applicants can be found here.

Subproject description

The PhD candidate will analyze economic thinking in late-5th- and 4th-century philosophical circles. This is a period that witnessed the emergence of oikonomia-literature (e.g. Xenophon’s Oeconomicus, the now lost peri oikonomias texts by Antisthenes and Xenocrates, Aristotle’s Politics I). The thesis will study selected topics from this oikonomia-literature in the broader philosophical and systemic contexts in which they functioned: texts from the Socratic circle (Aeschines of Sphettus, Antisthenes, the pseudo-Platonica), Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle. How do these thinkers understand the phenomenon of “money”? How are phenomena such as “gain” and “acquisitiveness” evaluated? What are their views on labor, property, utility? But also, what kind of theories of human nature are presupposed by these economic ideas: how do dominant conceptions of human rationality, body-soul dualism or freedom feed into economic ideas? And what kind of knowledge is this economic knowledge? How do specific discursive practices (e.g. thought experiments, dialectics, utopian discourse) shape specific economic ideas?

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