Universiteit Leiden

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Bob van Velthoven

PhD candidate

B.R.W. van Velthoven MA
+31 71 527 6476

Bob van Velthoven is a Ph.D. candidate in Greek literature. His research focuses on the emergence of economic reflections and economic theory in the works of Socratic philosophers of the fourth century BCE.

More information about Bob van Velthoven

Fields of Interests

  • Classical Greek Literature
  • Socratic Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Economics
  • Economic Rationality
  • Tyrants and tyranny

My PhD research (supervisors: Tazuko van Berkel and Ineke Sluiter) aims at reconstructing a fourth-century discourse on ‘economic’ theory between Socratic authors, such as Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle, with an interest in their reactions to minor Socratics (in particular their engagement with the genre of oikonomia literature) and responses to them by pseudepigraphic authors (Pseudo-Plato’s Hipparchus; Pseudo-Aristotle’s Oeconomica). In this reconstruction, I focus on two questions.

First of all, I examine how the authors of these economic theories conceive human nature: is mankind presented as a self-interested individualistic maximizer of his pleasure, such as the modern-day conception of the Homo Economicus, or do the aforementioned authors qualify their methodological economic man differently? While analyzing these ancient conceptions of economic rationality, I pay a special interest in the role of the figure of the ancient Greek tyrant. On the one hand, he is presented as a greedy maximizer and a Greek cultural equivalent to the Homo Economicus, and is thus used as an example of bad, antisocial, economic behaviour. On the other hand, the figure of the tyrant is often employed flexibly and can be ‘reformed’ to exemplify other attitudes to economic thinking.

Secondly, I examine how different knowledge practices produce various types of economic knowledge. Focusing on the differences between the multiple genres in which economic knowledge is conveyed, such as Socratic dialogue, anecdotes, technical treatises, and moral admonitions (Hausvaterliteratur). I am interested in how these different genres relate to the broader genre of oikonomia literature. Moreover, I am interested in how many of the works discussed seem to employ a form of ambiguity or irony to facilitate discussing economic topics. 

My research is part of the NWO VIDI Project ‘From Homo Economicus to Political Animal.’ 

PhD candidate

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Griekse T&C

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number A0.32



No relevant ancillary activities

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