The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Paul B Woodruff


ProfessorPhD, Princeton

Professor of Philosophy; Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies
Paul B Woodruff

Contact

Interests


Ancient philosophy, early Greek philosophy, aesthetics, democracy, virtue ethics, Socrates, Plato

Biography


Well-known for his influential articles on Socrates and Plato, Professor Woodruff has also published a critical edition of Plato's Hippias Major (1982) as well as translations of Plato’s Ion (1983) and (with Alexander Nehamas) Symposium (1989) and Phaedrus (1995). He has also written on topics in aesthetics and ethics and translated works by Euripides, Sophocles, and Thucydides. His recent publications include The Necessity of Theater (Oxford University Press, 2008), The Ajax Dilemma (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue (2d Edition, Oxford University Press, 2014). He has contributed to The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy (1999), A Companion to Aristotle (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), Cambridge Companion to Ancient Skepticism (2010), A Companion to Sophocles (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), and The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Aesthetics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015). He has been Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and has twice directed NEH seminars on ancient philosophy.  He is currently writing a book on the role of higher education in preparing students for leadership.

Original Books


Plato: Hippias Major

Plato: Hippias Major

Paul Woodruff

Plato: Hippias Major
1982
Hackett Publishing Company

 

First Democracy; The Challenge of an Ancient Idea.

The Necessity of Theater: The Art of Watching and Being Watched

The Ajax Dilemma; Justice, Fairness and Rewards

Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue


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Edited Books


Facing Evil; Light at the Core of Darkness

Facing Evil; Light at the Core of Darkness

Paul Woodruff, Harry A. Wilmer

Facing Evil; Light at the Core of Darkness
1988
Open Court Press

 

Early Greek Political Thought from Homer to the Sophists

Early Greek Political Thought from Homer to the Sophists

Paul Woodruff, Michael Gagarin

Early Greek Political Thought from Homer to the Sophists
1995
Cambridge University Press

 

Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy

Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy

Paul Woodruff, Nicholas D. Smith

Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy
2000
Oxford University Press

 

Loyalty. Nomos LIV

Loyalty.  Nomos LIV

Paul Woodruff, Sanford Levinson, and Joel Parker

Loyalty. Nomos LIV
2013
New York University Press

 


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Translations


Plato: Two Comic Dialogues (Ion and Hippias Major)

Plato: Symposium

Plato: Symposium

Paul Woodruff, Alexander Nehamas

Plato: Symposium
Apri 1989
Hackett Publishing Company

 

Thucydides on Justice, Power, and Human Nature

Plato: Phaedrus

Plato: Phaedrus

Paul Woodruff, Alexander Nehamas

Plato: Phaedrus
1995
Hackett Publishing Company

 

Euripides Bacchae

Euripides Bacchae

Paul Woodruff

Euripides Bacchae
1998
Hackett Publishing Company

 

 

Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus

Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus

Paul Woodruff, Peter Meineck

Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus
2001
Hackett Publishing Co

 

Sophocles: Antigone

Sophocles: Antigone

Paul Woodruff

Sophocles: Antigone
2000
Hackett Publishing Co.

 

Sophocles: Theban Plays

Sophocles: Theban Plays

Paul Woodruff, Peter Meineck

Sophocles: Theban Plays
2003
Hackett Publishing Co.

 

Sophocles: Four Tragedies

ophocles: Four Tragedies

Paul Woodruff, Peter Meineck

ophocles: Four Tragedies
2007
Hackett Publishing Co.

 

Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles: The Electra Plays

Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles: The Electra Plays

Paul Woodruff, Peter Meineck, and Cecilia Eaton Luschning

Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles: The Electra Plays
2009
Hackett Publishing Co.

 


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Selected Articles


"Socrates on the Parts of Virtue," Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 2, New Essays on Plato and the Pre-Socratics, Roger A. Shiner and John King-Farlow, eds., 1977, 101-116.  Repr. In Prior, 1997.


 "Socrates on Ontology: The Evidence of the Hippias Major," Phronesis, XXIII (1978), 101-117


 "Rousseau, Moliere, and the Ethics of Laughter," Philosophy and Literature, 1 (1977), 325-336


 "What Could Go Wrong with Inspiration?  Why Plato's Poets Fail," in Julius Moravcsik and Philip Temko, eds., Plato on Beauty, Wisdom, and the Arts.  Totowa, New Jersey:  Rowman and Littlefield, 1982, 137-150


 "Justification or Excuse: Saving Soldiers at the Expense of Civilians," Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume VIII (1982), 159-176


 "Didymus on Protagoras and the Protagoreans," Journal of the History of Philosophy  XXIII (1985), 483-497


 "The Skeptical Side of Plato's Method," Le Revue Internationale de Philosophie  156-157 (1986),  22-37


 "Expert Knowledge in the Apology and the Laches: What a General Needs to Know," Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, Volume III (1987), 79-115


 "Engaging Emotion in Theater: A Brechtian Model in Theater History," Monist, issue entitled "Aesthetics and the Histories of the Arts, ed. by Anita Silvers, Vol. 71 (1988),  235-257


 "Aporetic Pyrrhonism," Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy,  VI (1988), 139-68


 “Pathei Mathos: the Thought That Learning is by Ordeal,” Medical Humanities Review 5 (1991), 7-23


 “Virtue Ethics and the Appeal to Human Nature,” Social Theory and Practice 17 (1991), 307-35


 "Eikos and Bad Faith in the Paired Speeches of Thucydides," Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy  Volume X (1994), pp. 115-45


 "The Paradox of Comedy," Philosophical Topics 25 (1997), 319-35.


 "Socrates and Political Courage."  Ancient Philosophy 27 (2007).  Pp. 1-14.


 “Euboulia:  How Might Good Judgement Be Taught.”  Lampas: Tijdschrift voor Classici 41.3 (2008).  Pp. 252-62. 


 "Aristotle on Character, or, Who is Creon?"  Journal of Aesthetics and Arts Criticism  67.3 (2009).  Pp. 301-309. 


 “Lighting up the Lizard Brain:  The New Necessity of Theater.”  Topoi 30.2 (2011).  Pp. 151-55.  


 “Compassion in Chorus and Audience.” Didaskalia 8 (2011): 185-88.


“Theater as Sacrament.”  Ramus, Critical Studies in Greek and Roman Literature 42 (2013): 5-22.


 “What is the Question in the Hippias Major?”  Philosophical Inquiry: International Quarterly, 39 (2015): 73-79.


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Invited Chapters


"Plato's Earlier Epistemology," in Greek Epistemology, Cambridge University Press, ed. by Stephen Everson, 1990, 60-84.  Repr. in Hugh Benson, Essays on Socrates, Oxford University Press (1992).


 “Aristotle on Mimesis,” in A. Rorty, ed., Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics  (Princeton University Press) 1992, 73-95


 "Rhetoric and Relativism," in A.A. Long, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1999.  Pp. 290-310.


 "Socrates and the Irrational," in Smith, Nicholas D.  and Woodruff, Paul, eds. Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy (Oxford: University Press, 2000).  Pp. 130-50.  Translated and abridged for Pierre Destrée, ed., L' Ethique de Socrate, ***.


 “Natural Justice,” in Caston, Victor, and Graham, Daniel W., eds. Presocratic Philosophy; Essays in Honor of Alexander Mourelatos.    Aldershot:  Ashgate, 2002. Pp.  195-204


 "Justice in Translation: Rendering Tragedy" In Gregory, Justina, ed. A Companion to Greek Tragedy.  Malden, Massachusetts and Oxford:  Blackwell Publishing, 2005.  Pp. 490-504.


 "The Shape of Freedom: Democratic Leadership in the Ancient World."  In Joanne Ciulla, Terry L. Price, and Susan E. Murphy, editors, The Quest for Moral Leaders: Essays in Leadership Ethics.  New Horizons, 2005.


 “Socrates Among the Sophists," in Sara Rappe and Rachana Kamtekar, eds.,  A Companion to Socrates.  Oxford:  Blackwell, 2005.  Pp. 36-47.


 “Early Greek Legal Thought,”  (with Michael Gagarin), in Fred D Miller, Jr, with Carrie-Ann Biondi, eds. A History of the Philosophy of Law from the Ancient Greeks to the Scholastics.  Volume 6 of A Treatise of Legal Philosophy and General Jurisprudence.  Dordrecht:  Springer, 2007.  Pp. 7-34. 


 "The Sophists."  With Michael Gagarin.  In Patricia Curd and Daniel Graham, eds., Oxford Handbook to Presocratic Philosophy.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2008.  Pp. 365-82.


 "Aristotle's Poetics: The Aim of Tragedy.” In Georgios Anagnostopoulos, ed., A Companion to Aristotle.  Malden, Massachusetts and Oxford:  Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.  Pp. 612-27.


 “Sophocles’ Humanism.” In William Wians, ed., Logos and Mythos: Philosophical Essays in Greek Literature.”   Albany, N.Y., SUNY Press, 2009.  Pp. 233-53.   


 “Pyrrhonian Modes.”  Richard Bett, ed., Cambridge Companion to Ancient Skepticism. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. 208-31.


 "Socrates and the New Learning," in Donald R. Morrison, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Socrates.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2010.  Pp. 91-110.


 “The Philoctetes of Sophocles,” in Kirk Ormand, ed., A Companion to Sophocles.  Hobeken:  Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.  Pp. 126-140. 


 “Justice as a Virtue of the Soul,” in Rachana Kamtekar, ed., Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Supplementary Volume:  Virtue and Happiness; Essays in honor of Julia Annas,  2012.  Pp. 89-101.


 “Spectator Emotions,” in John Deigh, editor, On Emotions: Philosophical Essays. New York:  Oxford University Press, 2013. (Essays published in honor of Robert Solomon) Pp. 59-75.  


 “Euboulia as the Skill Protagoras Taught,” in Johannes M. van Ophuijsen, Marlein van Raalte, and Peter Stork, eds. Protagoras of Abdera: The Man, His Measure.  Leiden and Boston:  Brill, 2013.  Pp. 179-193. 


 “Performing Memory: In the Mind and on the Public Stage.”  In Peter Meineck & David Konstan, eds., Combat Trauma and the ancient Greeks.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.  Pp. 286-99. 


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“Mimesis.”  In Pierre Destrée and Penelope Murray, eds.,The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Aesthetics. Oxford:  Wiley-Blackwell.  Pp. 329-40.


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Videos


NOW with Bill Moyers: Paul Woodruff on Reverence

Watch video here.

Paul Woodruff on Reverence

The capacity for awe in the face of the transcendent: that is how Paul Woodruff, one of America’s foremost interpreters of Plato and other venerable thinkers of ancient Greece, defines reverence. In this program, Bill Moyers and the author of Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue examine this crucial yet frequently misunderstood and misapplied concept and its implications for the world today. Topics include the nature of the transcendent, hubris versus humility, the reciprocal relationship between justice and reverence, tyranny and terrorism as failures of reverence, the vital link between reverence and politics, and the surprising realization that religion is not always reverent.


Game Changers Excerpt: Paul Woodruff

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Game Changers Excerpt

In his book "The Ajax Dilemma," Paul Woodruff uses a parable from classical Greece to shed light on a very contemporary business dilemma: how to reward outstanding players without damaging the team. Tapping into his experience as a boss, a professor, an officer and an employee, Woodruff uses his broad perspective to issue an intriguing call for a compassionate approach to fairness.


Paul Woodruff: The Ajax Dilemma

Watch video here.

The Ajax Dilemmat

How should we distribute rewards and public recognition without damaging the social fabric? How should we honor those whose behavior and achievement is essential to our overall success? Is it fair or right to lavish rewards on the superstar at the expense of the hardworking rank-and-file? How do we distinguish an impartial fairness from what is truly just?

Prof. Paul Woodruff builds his answer to these questions around the ancient conflict between Ajax and Odysseus over the armor of the slain warrior Achilles.


LHN - Paul Woodruff's Ethics & Philanthropy Course

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LHN - Paul Woodruff's Ethics & Philanthropy Course

In the Spring of 2012 Dr. Paul Woodruff, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, created a new semester-long opportunity for first-year students at UT Austin. This brand new signature course explores ethics and the art of philanthropy. See how these UT students began changing the world before their first full year of college was even over.


Book Discussion on First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea

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The Challenge of an Ancient Idea

Paul Woodruff talked about his book First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea, published by Oxford University Press. He wrote about the theory and practice of ancient Athenian democracy, including freedom from tyranny, the rule of law, the wisdom of citizens, and general education. He also talked about the roots of American democracy and the degree to which it borrowed principles employed in Athenian politics. Following his remarks he answered questions from the audience.


Paul Woodruff, Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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Paul Woodruff, Wednesday, February 12, 2014

For his Athenaeum lecture, Professor Woodruff examines a particular strand of ethics in ancient Greek thought. The wisdom literature of ancient Greece developed over a period of four centuries, disseminating from epic poetry (such as Homer) to variant forms of literature such as tragedy, lyric poetry and the prose histories of Classical Greece. Despite its dispersion in a variety of literature, this tradition for explaining ethics to a wider audience maintained a common understanding of what constituted "the good life". Plato, on the other hand, rejected this common approach to explaining ethics and Professor Woodruff's lecture will tease both what tragedy taught a Greek audience about ethics and how and why Plato rejected this tradition.


BYU Forum Address: Paul Woodruff (1/25/05)

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Paul Woodruff (1/25/05)

University of Texas at Austin Professor Paul Woodruff speaks to Brigham Young University students. He talks about the difference between respect and reverence and teaches that we need to emphasize reverence in our lives.