Professor Seth Jaffe Discusses Thucydides at Harvard and Bowdoin

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Professor Seth Jaffe at Harvard University

Professor Seth Jaffe at Harvard University

Political Science and International Affairs Professor Seth Jaffe recently participated in two academic events in the USA. On Monday, November 27, Professor Jaffe was invited by the Harvard University Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs for a Director’s Lunch on “Thucydides for the Citizen, Soldier, and Statesman.” He offered a synoptic presentation about how Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War is intended to educate its readers through its vicarious recreation of an ancient war, with a focus on the citizen, the soldier, and the statesman.

On Tuesday, November 28, Professor Jaffe gave a lecture at his alma mater, Bowdoin College, on “Peloponnesian Warnings? Thucydides and American Foreign Policy.” In the lecture, he drew on his original interpretation of Thucydides’ account of the causes of war to explore the Thucydides Trap argument about the “inevitability” of conflict between the United States and China. He then applied his reformulated Thucydides Trap to the US-China relationship in the age of Trump.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Professor Jaffe has a B.A. in Comparative Politics and Philosophy from Bowdoin College, an M.Sc. degree in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto. He has taught at both Bowdoin College and the University of Toronto, where he was the inaugural Bloom Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow in Classical Thought.

His research focuses on Classical Political Thought, International Relations, and the History of International Political Thought. Overall, he has wide-ranging research interests in Greek conceptions of human nature, which are political (or moral) psychologies, and more specialized interests in the phenomenon of political motion – war and civil war – as it was conceptualized by the writers and thinkers of the 5th and 4th Centuries BC in Greece. He is also interested in how classical frameworks can enrich contemporary debates in the social sciences. Professor Jaffe recently published the book Thucydides on the Outbreak of War: Character and Contest with Oxford University Press.