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Democracy and Knowledge:
Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens
Josiah Ober

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]

ADDITIONAL REVIEWS:

"Josiah Ober's book is a remarkable contribution to classical Greek history, social theory, and political philosophy. It advances understandings within each field and shows why these disciplines should be in more conversation with one another."--Gerald Mara, Cambridge Journals

"The book is written in a very accessible style and it should be of interest to a wide range of scholars working in the are of ancient history, political science and democratic theory."--Zsuzsanna Chappell, Political Studies Review

"[This book is] very much worth reading, if for no other reason than for the extremely rich and interesting historical detail to be found. . . . In this respect, [the] author live[s] up to [his] justly earned reputation as [a] great political historian."--Frank Lovett, Perspectives on Politics

"[T]he book is well worth the read. The attempt to cross disciplinary boundaries is refreshing. Moreover, Obe''s analysis offers a valuable contribution to democratic theory."--Emma Cohen de Lara, Acta Politica

"[Ober] makes a detailed and stimulating case. This is a book which has much to offer to both scholars of Athenian democracy and democratic political thought."--Peter Liddel, European Legacy

ADDITIONAL ENDORSEMENTS:

"In this pathbreaking work, Josiah Ober draws on the full array of modern social science to explain the amazing success of Athenian democracy. He argues persuasively that the Athenians were able to overcome problems of collective action through the efficient aggregation and use of knowledge, as when Cleisthenes created new tribes that brought together citizens from different parts of Attica. The striking vignettes and episodes from Athenian history conjoined with sophisticated theoretical analyses make for utterly compelling reading. It will enrich social science no less than the writing of ancient history. Since the work of Paul Veyne, there has been nothing like it."--Jon Elster, Collège de France

"A fresh, intellectually daring proposal by the George Grote of our times: democracy is not just an ethically desirable political form, but potentially unsurpassed as a source of innovation, public learning, and the application of publicly useful knowledge."--John Keane, professor of politics at the University of Westminster and the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin

"Josiah Ober introduces Athens to students of institutional design and institutional design to students of Athens in an exercise of trailblazing scholarship and analysis. The book will become a standard reference in both areas of investigation."--Philip Pettit, Princeton University

"Democracy and Knowledge looks at Athenian democracy from a quite new angle by taking on a question that has not previously made the transition from political and social science to ancient world studies. No one has even asked how in practice the Athenians aggregated their knowledge to make sensible decisions. There is no treatment of classical Athens or, to my knowledge, of the working of any democracy, comparable to this."--Robin Osborne, University of Cambridge

"This is a terrific book. Ober applies modern social science to explain and make sense of Athenian institutions, and offers strong and compelling discussions of many issues. The two central lines of argument--the role and structure of knowledge and the incentive or game structures of the interactions of citizens in politics--are at the core of understanding these issues, and yet they are seldom brought together in this way."--Russell Hardin, New York University

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File created: 10/28/2014

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