Photo of Jonathan Lear
Jonathan Lear Office: Foster 503 Office hours: Thursdays, 1:30-3:30, Foster 505 Phone: (773) 702-8407 Email
John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, Philosophy, and in the College


Jonathan Lear is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy. His work focuses on the philosophical understanding of the human psyche—and the ethical implications that flow from us being the kind of creatures we are. He trained in Philosophy at Cambridge University and The Rockefeller University where he received his PhD 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); A Case for Irony (2011); and Freud (2015); His most recent book is Wisdom Won From Illness: Essays in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Harvard University Press, 2017). He is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award. In 2014, he was appointed the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and continues in that role currently. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society.


"We will not be missed!," The Point, 2021 (Link)

"Transience and hope: A return to Freud in a time of pandemic," International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2021 (Link)

"Gettysburg Mourning," Critical Inquiry, 2018 (PDF)

"The difficulty of reality and a revolt against mourning," European Journal of Philosophy, 2018 (PDF)

Wisdom Won From Illness: Essays in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017)

Freud, 2nd ed. (New York and London: Routledge, 2015)— listed as the "top" book on psychoanalysis by The Guardian.

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009); rev. by Sebastian Junger in Time Magazine (July 12, 2010)

A Case for Irony (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011)

Therapeutic Action: An Earnest Plea for Irony (New York: Other Press, 2003)

"Inside and Outside the Republic," Phronesis 37, no. 2 (January, 1992) (Link)

“Katharsis,” in Phronesis, 1988; reprinted in Aristotle’s Poetics, ed. Amelie Rorty (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992)

Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)

Aristotle and Logical Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980)


To hear interviews with Jonathan Lear, click here