Edmund N. Carpenter II Class of 1943 Professor in the Humanities Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature, Princeton University
“I am an aesthete; that is the one ‘sin’ I confess to. If I do have a public message, it is that aesthetic facts—beauty, style and elegance, grace and connectedness—are crucial to life.”
— Alexander Nehamas in an interview with David Carrier in Bomb Magazine, 1998
Alexander Nehamas is an internationally known philosopher whose broad range of scholarly interests include classical Greek philosophy, aesthetics, and literary theory. Recently he has addressed the question of why beauty has been discredited as a philosophical notion and has championed aesthetic values. He is author of Virtues of Authenticity: Essays on Plato and Socrates (1999) and Nietzsche: Life as Literature (1985), which is considered a classic, as well as translator of Plato’s Symposium (1989) and Phaedrus (1995). Nehamas is particularly interested in Nietzsche’s integration of life and philosophy in the creation of self, which he calls the “art of living.” He links this philosophical practice to a model that comes from classical Greece, and in his book The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault (1998) he examines the influence of this Socratic tradition on later philosophers, including Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault.—Katz Lectures in the Humanities
Alexander Nehamas’ answer to the Philosophy Bites question, “What is philosophy?”
“I can’t answer that question directly. I will tell you why I became a philosopher. I became a philosopher because I wanted to be able to talk about many, many things, ideally with knowledge, but sometimes not quite the amount of knowledge that I would need if I were to be a specialist in them. It allows you to be many different things. And plurality and complexity are very, very important to me.”
Passages from various sources – Humanities at Stanford
What is Art? Radio interview on Philosophy Talk
What is Beauty? Radio interview on Philosophy Talk
The Gifford Lectures 2008 – video of six lectures on friendship.
Beauty – a conversation with Alexander Nehamas, 15 February 2011.