- Political Theory
George Kateb, Doctor of Humane Letters
George Kateb is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics Emeritus at Princeton. An influential political theorist with an international reputation, he is a champion of democratic individuality and a critic of its many challengers. He is the author of "Utopia and Its Enemies" (1963); "Political Theory; Its Nature and Uses" (1968); "Hannah Arendt: Politics, Conscience, Evil" (1984); "The Inner Ocean: Individualism and Democratic Culture" (1992); "Emerson and Self-Reliance" (1994); "Patriotism and Other Mistakes" (2006); and "Human Dignity" (2011).
Kateb came to Princeton in 1987 after 30 years on the faculty at Amherst College. At Princeton, he was a dynamic lecturer and a legendary adviser of graduate students. He served as director of the Program in Political Philosophy and was a member of the executive committee of the University Center for Human Values, of which he also served as director. In 1997, he was awarded Princeton's Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities. He retired from the faculty in 2002. Kateb has been president of the New England Political Science Association and vice president of the American Society of Political and Legal Philosophy. He was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has served on the editorial boards of the leading journals in his field.
The foremost American theorist of democratic individuality, he writes in the tradition of Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman. A voice for a spirited and self-critical democratic liberalism, he is a defender of the dignity of the human person, a celebrant of democratic self-expression, a critic of convention and complacency. In brilliant lectures and intense seminars, he taught political theory by example, criticizing his own ideas as rigorously as those of the great writers of the canon. And while living the values of an Emersonian individualist, he has been a University citizen of the highest order.