Remembering Peter Euben

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Remembering Peter Euben

The faculty, staff, and students of political science are saddened at the news of the passing of J. Peter Euben, beloved Research Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Kenan Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Ethics. 

Euben won five teaching awards across his career.  Writing for Duke Today, nearing his retirement, Peter reflected on his teaching.  "All this speaks to the importance of establishing a dialogue among the students and between them and me even in a class of 75. Of course, dialogue has become a cliché: who is against dialogue? But too many dialogues are covert monologues. My idea and practice of dialogue is more substantial in intent (if not in execution). It entails becoming a student of my students in order to become a better teacher of them and, just as important, having them see me do that." “He taught with humor and with love," Ruth Grant remembers, "and those of us who were his colleagues and students remain very much in his debt.” 

EubenOne of Peter's students, Nathan Jones, wrote fondly of his class experience.  "When Peter Euben recently died, Duke lost one of its finest professors. When I took the first incarnation of his now-well-known 'Living an Ethical Life' class during spring semester 2007, I expected conflict. The idea for the class was almost absurd: put a bunch of bright Duke kids from vastly different backgrounds holding vastly different convictions into a room together and make them read everything from Socrates to Nietzsche to the Book of Job. Then pull the pin out of the grenade and toss it into the center of the room with a question like 'What does goodness look like in a world without God?'"

Euben wrote and co-authored many books including The Tragedy of Political TheoryAthenian Political ThoughtDebating Moral Education, and Corrupting the Youth.