Steven Smith

Steven Smith's picture
Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science and Professor of Philosophy


Steven B. Smith received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has taught at Yale since 1984 and is the Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science. He has served as Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science, Director of the Special Program in the Humanities, and Acting Chair of Judaic Studies and from 1996-2011 served as the Master of Branford College. His research has focused on the history of political philosophy with special attention to the problem of the ancients and moderns, the relation of religion and politics, and theories of representative government.
His best-known publications include Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism (1989), Spinoza, Liberalism, and Jewish Identity (1997), Spinoza’s Book of Life (2003), Reading Leo Strauss (2006), and The Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss (2009), Political Philosophy (2012), and Modernity and its Discontents (2016) which recently came out in paperback.  You can read about this book and the introductory chapter on the publication page.

Most recently, he has co-edited with Joshua Cherniss The Cambridge Companion to Isaiah Berlin (2018) and is working on a new book In Defense of Patriotism

He is also the Co-Director of Yale’s Center for the Study of Representative Institutions (YSCRI) that focuses on the theory and practice of representative government in the Anglo-American world.
He has received several academic awards and prizes including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize given by Phi Beta Kappa, but is most proud of receiving the Lex Hixon ‘63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2009. He is a die-hard Yankees fan and hopes to be able to play for the team in the next life.


115 Prospect Street, Rosenkranz Hall, Room 315

1(203) 432-5263


  • Ph.D., University of Chicago



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