Roman Family Director

Jonathan lear

Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society; John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy

Jonathan Lear ( is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy. He trained in Philosophy at Cambridge University and The Rockefeller University where he received his Ph.D. in 1978. He works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Socrates to the present. He also trained as a psychoanalyst at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. His books include: Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006), Aristotle and Logical Theory (1980), Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (1988); Love and Its Place in Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis (1990), Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul (1998), Happiness, Death and the Remainder of Life (2000), Therapeutic Action: An Earnest Plea for Irony (2003), Freud (2005), and A Case for Irony (Harvard University Press, 2011). His most recent book is Wisdom Won From Illness (Harvard University Press, 2017). He is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award, a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Philosophical Society.

Curriculum Vitae

The following is a selected list of research articles by Jonathan Lear. For a complete list, please see his Curriculum Vitae or contact him at

  • “The Freudian Sabbath,” in Hegel on Philosophy in History (James Kreines and Rachel Zuckert eds., Cambridge University Press, 2017)

  • "The Fundamental Rule and the Fundamental Value of Psychoanalysis," Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association (June, 2015) 

  • "Waiting with Coetzee," Raritan, Vol. 34, no. 4 (2015)
  • "Rosalind's Pregnancy," Raritan, Vol. 34, no. 3 (2015)
  • "Integrating the Non-Rational Soul," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 114, (2014)
  • "The Ironic Creativity of Socratic Doubt," MLN: Modern Language Notes, (128:5, 2013) 1001-1018
  • "The Call of Another’s Words," in The Humanities and Public Life (ed. Peter Brooks, Fordham University Press,  2014)
  • "Wisdom Won From Illness: The Psychoanalytic Grasp of Human Being," International Journal of Psychoanalysis (2014)
  • "Mourning and Moral Psychology: The Work of Hans Loewald," Psychoanalytic Psychology (2014)
  • "The Illusion of a Future: The Rhetoric of Freud's Critique of Religious Belief."  In: On Freud's 'The Future of an Illusion (M.K. O'Neil and S. Akhtar eds., London: Karnac, 2009) (PDF)
  • "Technique and Final Cause in Psychoanalysis: Four Ways of Looking at One Moment," International Journal of Psychoanalysis (PDF)
  • Allegory and Myth in Plato's Republic (PDF)
  • Jumping from the Couch: An Essay on Phantasy and Emotional Structure (PDF)
  • Socratic Method and Psychoanalysis (PDF)
  • The Ethical Thought of J.M. Coetzee, Raritan (PDF)
  • Psychoanalysis and the idea of a moral psychology: memorial to Bernard Williams' philosophy, Inquiry, Volume 47, Issue 5 October 2004 , pages 515 – 522 (Link)
  • “Give Dora a Break!”, in Erotikon: Essays on Eros Ancient and Modern, ed. S. Bartsch and T. Bartscherer, University of Chicago Press, 2005 (PDF)
  • Avowal and Unfreedom. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Volume 69, Number 2, September 2004, pp. 448-454(7) (Link)
  • Inside and outside the Republic. Phronesis Volume 37, Number 2 / January, 1992 (Link)
  • On Reflection: the legacy of Wittgenstein’s later Philosophy, Ratio Volume 2 Issue 1 Page 19-45, June 1989 (Link)
  • The Disappearing 'We' (with B. Stroud). Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 58 (1984), pp. 219-258 (Link)
  • Moral Objectivity. Objectivity and Cultural Divergence, Cambridge University Press, 1984 (PDF)
  • Ethics, Mathematics and Relativism. Mind, New Series, Vol. 92, No. 365 (Jan., 1983), pp. 38-60 (Link)
  • Aristotle's Philosophy of Mathematics. The Philosophical Review, Vol. 91, No. 2 (Apr., 1982), pp. 161-192 (Link)
  • Leaving the World Alone. The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 79, No. 7 (Jul., 1982), pp. 382-403 (Link)
  • Aristotelian Infinity, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 80, (1979 - 1980), pp. 187-210 (PDF)
  • Aristotle's Compactness Proof. The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 76, No. 4 (Apr., 1979), pp. 198-215 (Link)
  • Sets and Semantics. The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 74, No. 2 (Feb., 1977), pp. 86-102 (Link)
  • The Introduction Of Eros: Reflections On The Work Of Hans Loewald. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:673-698 (Link)
  • Working Through the End of Civilization. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 88:291-308 (Link)
  • The idea of a moral psychology: The impact of psychoanalysis on philosophy in Britain. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 84:1351-1361 (Link)
  • "Philosophy and Bear Mace" (Link)

PHIL 28210/38209. Psychoanalysis and Philosophy. This course shall read the works of Sigmund Freud. We shall examine his views on the unconscious, on human sexuality, on repetition, transference and neurotic suffering. We shall also consider what therapy and "cure" consist in, and how his technique might work. We shall consider certain ties to ancient Greek conceptions of human happiness - and ask the question: what is it about human being that makes living a fulfilling life problematic? Readings from Freud's case studies as well as his essays on theory and technique. Course for Graduate Students and Upper Level Undergraduates. Winter 2018.

PHIL 53501. Special Topics in Philosophy of Mind: Imagination. What is imagination, and what functions does our power of imagination have in our lives? The seminar will approach these general questions via more specific ones such as the following: What are the relations between imagining, perceiving, remembering, and dreaming? Does our capacity for imagination play a role in enabling us to perceive? Does imagining something involve forming a mental image or picture of that thing? If not, how should we conceive of the objects of imagination? What is the nature of our engagement with what we imagine, and how does this engagement explain our ability to feel emotions such as fear, pity, and sympathy for imaginary beings? What is the role of imagination or fantasy in structuring our understanding of ourselves and our relations to other persons? Is there such a thing as the virtuous state of the power of imagination? Readings will be drawn from various classic discussions of imagination - e.g., Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Freud, Wittgenstein, Sartre - and from some contemporary sources. Graduate students in Philosophy & Social Thought only, except with permission of instructor. Co-taught with Matthew Boyle, Autumn 2017.