For Research. For Berlin.

Publications of the Einstein Research Group “Bewegung als Prinzip”

Due to the Einstein Foundation’s generosity and support, members of the research group surrounding Visiting Fellow Neville Morley have published award-winning research.

Thanks to Einstein Foundation’s support, Dr. Seth N. Jaffe, Visiting Scholar of the research group “Bewegung als Prinzip,” surrounding Einstein Visiting Fellow Neville Morley, and Hans Kopp, coordinator of the group, were able to publish the results of their research in important venues. Both Jaffe’s and Kopp’s research deals with the Athenian historian Thucydides, the ancient writer whose monumental work is the main intellectual focus of the research project: Thucydides describes the war between Athens and Sparta in 431 to 404 B.C. as the “greatest motion” in all of history, and the research group asks how this concept can help to analyze ancient ideas about political and social transformation.

Seth N. Jaffe’s manuscript, which was completed during his time in the research group, and which profited immensely from the team’s common undertakings, has just been published under the title Thucydides on the Outbreak of War: Character and Contest by Oxford University Press. The book deals with a perennial question, as analyzed by Thucydides: why do great power wars take place, and how “inevitable” are they? In his political psychological study of Thucydides’ first book, the one surrounding the origins of the war, Jaffe shows how the History’s account of the outbreak of the war ultimately points toward the opposing characters of the Athenian and Spartan regimes, disclosing a Thucydidean preoccupation with the interplay between nature and convention. The political thought of Thucydides, Jaffe argues, proves bound up with his distinctive understanding of the interrelationship of particular events and universal themes. This is one of the reasons why Thucydides’ analysis is still important and even relevant after 2400 years.

Hans Kopp’s book Das Meer als Versprechen is the revised version of his PhD thesis, submitted in 2015 and awarded the prestigious Bruno-Snell-Preis of the Mommsen-Gesellschaft as the best thesis in Classics for 2017. The book has just been published, with generous support from the Einstein Foundation, with Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, as the first volume of Thoukydideia, a new series devoted exclusively to the study of Thucydides and published as part of the group’s broader research efforts. Kopp’s book deals with sea power in Thucydides, since the historian’s work is often interpreted as a kind of manifesto on the importance of maritime might. However, as Kopp’s analysis demonstrates, Thucydides focus is much more on the seductive power of maritime strength. Instead of advertising or condemning such power, he offers important insights about the discrepancy between its actual possibilities and the attractive promises of those who ignore the limits of what is possible in their attempt to convince others through persuasive speech.

In their final form, both books would not have been possible without the generous support of the Einstein Foundation. And both will be valuable as a stimulus to the group’s common research moving forward.