Remembering Peter Euben

The faculty, staff, and students of the Kenan Institute for Ethics 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.

Peter Euben was one of KIE’s founding faculty members, as well as the architect and inaugural director of the Ethics and Society Certificate program.

“Peter brought his remarkable spirit to the Kenan Institute in the early days and helped to shape it,” said Ruth Grant, Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics. “He taught with humor and with love. And those of us who were his colleagues and students remain very much in his debt.”

Dr. Euben received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1968 and had a 34-year career teaching at UC Santa Cruz before coming to Duke in 2002 to become the Kenan Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Ethics, a newly created post. He specialized in ancient, modern, and contemporary political thought; literature and politics; political education; democratic culture and politics; and the politics of morality.

“My heart sank when I heard the news. I met Professor Euben during my freshman year when I took his class on ‘Challenges of Living an Ethical Life,’” said Poorav Rohatgi (T’10). “From that moment until I graduated Duke (and off and on after then), he was my close mentor, always teaching me how to improve my critical thinking and writing skills and encouraging me to pursue the professional passion that burned within me. I will never forget his patient teaching style, his genuine feedback, his not-so-subtle humor, and, of course, his iconic mustache. He will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Peter Euben was the author of The Tragedy of Political Theory, Corrupting Youth, and Platonic Noise; editor of Greek Tragedy and Political Theory; and co-editor of Athenian Political Thought and the Reconstitution of American Democracy. He received fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the National Humanities Foundation, and was a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University.

Read “This is Ethics? An Idiosyncratic Guide” by Peter Euben from DukeToday, May 2010.