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PhD candidate on Economic thinking in the Socratic authors and Aristotle

Wetenschappelijke functies, PhD-posities
Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
02 februari 2021
01 april 2021

Nog 31 dagen om te solliciteren

Leiden University, The Faculty of Humanities, is looking for a

PhD candidate on Economic thinking in the Socratic authors and Aristotle 

Project description
We are looking for an excellent, highly motivated, enterprising and enthusiastic PhD candidate to join the project team. 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, Aristotles 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?

The thesis will consist of four or five case studies. Candidates are invited to submit a research proposal containing the design of one case study (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) around these questions. In their proposal, they should outline their suggested approach, main research question, and expected original contribution to the field.

The Vidi-project “From Homo Economicus to Political Animal. Human self-understanding in ancient Greek economic reflection”

The PhD candidate will be working on a subproject within the Vidi research project From Homo Economicus to Political Animal. Human Self-understanding in Ancient Greek Economic Reflection, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, and directed by dr. T.A. (Tazuko) van Berkel (assistant professor in ancient Greek language and literature at Leiden University).

From Homo Economicus to Political Animal is a research project that seeks to offer a revisionist account of the history of economic thinking in ancient Greece that explores the anthropologies (views on human nature) presupposed and produced by Greek economic texts, and the specific knowledge forms that shape these anthropologies. At the core of the project there are three fundamental questions:

  1. What are the central concepts, questions and principles that the ancient Greeks thought were economic, i.e. pertaining to the ways in which human beings interact with their natural and social environment for the provisioning of their livelihoods?
  2. Who or what is the ancient Greek equivalent of Economic Man: what kind of anthropologies are implied and propagated by ancient Greek economic reflection? How do particular anthropologies inform and shape key economic concepts?
  3. What kind of knowledge is economic knowledge in the ancient Greek world? What kind of discursive practices are producing, shaping and reproducing ancient economic thought?

The project will consist of three components that each explore the intersections of these three questions, focusing on Classical philosophical texts (PhD), Hellenistic philosophical texts and utopian discourse (postdoc), and ancient Greek folk economics (PI; Tazuko van Berkel). For more information on the Vidi-project, see the project website.

Key responsibilities

  • Completion of a PhD thesis within four years (1.0 FTE) or five years (0.8 FTE);
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s) and events organized by the research group;
  • Participation in knowledge utilization activities;
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in the training programme of the local Leiden Graduate School, the LUCAS Institute and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meeting of the Leiden Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the LUCAS (PhD) community;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment, subject to progress and demand.

Selection criteria

  • A RMA, MA or MPhil degree in Classics, held by time of appointment, with an MA thesis of high quality with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment;
  • Ability to finish the proposed PhD research within the allotted time;
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Excellent competence in ancient Greek and English, as well as reading competence in French, German and Italian;
  • Interest in philosophy (both ancient and modern) and social sciences (e.g. economic theory, sociology of knowledge);
  • Taste for interdisciplinary research;
  • Independent thinker, team player.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Humanities is a unique international centre for the advanced study of languages, cultures, arts, and societies worldwide, in their historical contexts from prehistory to the present.  Our faculty is home to more than 6,000 students and 800 staff members. For more information, see the website of Humanities.

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of the seven Research Institutes of the Faculty of Humanities. LUCAS is dedicated to ground-breaking research that explores the multifaceted relationships between the arts and society.

Terms and conditions
PhD project, 4 years (1.0 FTE), starting date 1 September 2021 or sooner. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation. A part-time (0.8 FTE) appointment is also possible; the full duration of the appointment will in that case be 5 years. Salary range from 2,395.- to 3,061.- gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale P, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information, see the website.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

More information about this position and the Vidi-project may be obtained from Tazuko van Berkel, email t.a.van.berkel@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Information about the selection procedure and about LUCAS can be obtained via Mariska de Groot, email im-lucas@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

To apply for this vacancy, please submit your application via our online system, by clicking on the blue button at the top of this page. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents in a single PDF file (not zipped), quoting the vacancy number:

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees (no reference letters; N.B. please list these in your PDF rather than entering them into the system);
  • Transcript of records;
  • Research proposal of 1500 words for one case study (out of 4 or 5). This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • Copy of relevant diploma.

Only applications received no later than April 1st 2021 can be considered. Interviews will take place in the week of April 19-23. For candidates living abroad interviews may be held through an online platform; depending on Dutch government measures for Covid19 the same may apply for candidates living in the Netherlands.


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