Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University 

Interests: Ancient Philosophy, Moral and Political Philosophy, Eighteenth-Century Philosophy, Philosophy and Literature, Metaphilosophy.

Before coming to Boston University in 1991, Charles L. Griswold (also known as Charles L. Griswold, Jr.) taught at Howard University. He has held visiting appointments at the Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (in 2004) and Yale University (in 1996, as Olmsted Visiting Professor). In 2010 he was appointed Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. His teaching and research have addressed various themes, figures, and historical periods.

Griswold’s current work in progress is a series of philosophical ruminations in podcast form on such topics as wonder, walking in nature, solitude, self-delusion, aging, philosophy, perfectionism, and happiness.  He also wishes to address the issues of form, content, and medium as reflected in various styles of philosophical writing as well as in the spoken word (including the podcast modality made possible by the internet).  Griswold hopes to broaden that tentative list to include a wide range of other topics.  The rumination on philosophy was discussed via Zoom with faculty and students of Duquesne University’s philosophy department on Sept. 11, 2020 and with those of the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) philosophy department on Dec. 4, 2020.  Griswold also presented a paper on self-forgiveness, guilt, and sorrow at a 2019 conference in Germany (see here).  Other topics about which he is currently thinking include surveillance and privacy.


books –

  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith: a Philosophical Encounter. Routledge, 2018 (available Fall 2017; paperback, Dec. 2019). This book draws and builds on my work on Rousseau and on Smith in an effort to construct a kind of conversation between them about aspects of what could be termed “the question of the self.”  For a review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (3.8.18), see here.  The podcast of a conversation about the book with Professor Jeffrey Church in The Political Theory Review is available here (interview dated 11.27.18).  Drafts of the book’s chapter on self-falsification, exchange, and freedom were presented at Boston College (as a Marshall Lecture), at a Smith conference at Yale University, at a conference at the University of Glasgow (plenary address), and elsewhere.
  • Forgiveness: a Philosophical Exploration. Cambridge University Press, 2007, simultaneous paperback and hardback publication.  (Third printing with corrections 2007, reprinted with corrections 2014).  “Author meets critics” panels on the book were held at a 2008 meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division (the exchange was published in Philosophia 38 (2010), and is on-line here), and at a 2oo8 meeting of the American Catholic Philosophical Association (the exchange was published in the 2008 ACPA Proceedings; my contribution is on-line here. A conference occasioned by the book took place at the University of Oslo (Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature) in April of 2008. The results, edited by C. Fricke, were published by Routledge in 2011 under the title The Ethics of Forgiveness (see here). For an exchange in Tikkun (March/April, 2008) about the book see here; for a review in the TLS (12.14.07) see here; for a review in the Times Higher Education book section (May 8, 2008), see here; and for a review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (6.19.08), see here. For relevant discussions with the author on various radio shows, see below.
  • Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment. Cambridge University Press, 1999, simultaneous paperback and hardback publication.
  • Self-knowledge in Plato’s Phaedrus. Yale University Press, 1986, paperback 1988. Reprinted with a new preface and supplementary bibliography by the Pennsylvania State University Press in 1996. Awarded the Franklin J. Matchette Prize by the American Philosophical Association.

edited/co-edited books –

  • Ancient Forgiveness: Classical, Judaic, and Christian (co-edited with David Konstan). Cambridge University Press, 2012.  This book is a collection of essays by eminent scholars on the nature and scope of classical (both Greek and Roman) as well as early Christian and Judaic conceptions of forgiveness (related notions such as mercy, clemency, pardon, reconciliation, and the like are also discussed).
  • Platonic Writings, Platonic Readings (ed.). Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1988, hardback and paperback. Reprinted with a new preface, supplementary bibliography, and corrections by the Pennsylvania State University Press in 2002.

other publications (selected) –

  • “Being and Appearing: Self-falsification, Exchange and Freedom in Rousseau and Adam Smith,” in Adam Smith and Rousseau: Ethics, Politics, Economics, ed. M. P. Paganelli, D. C. Rasmussen, and C. Smith (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 185-213.  (This essay is drawn from ch. 4 of my book on Rousseau and Smith.)
  • “Genealogical narrative and self-knowledge in Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and the Foundations of Inequality among Men,” History of European Ideas, published online Dec. 17, 2015, and then in the journal’s print edition: vol. 42.2 (2016): 276-301, “Special Issue: Essays in Honour of Knud Haakonssen.”  Available here.
  • “Liberty and Compulsory Civil Religion in Rousseau’s Social Contract,”  Journal of the History of Philosophy, 53.2 (2015): 271-300. (Accepted for publication 12.12.13.)  Available via Project Muse here.
  • “Narcissisme, amour de soi et critique sociale. Narcisse de Rousseau et sa Préface,” in Philosophie de Rousseau, ed. B. Bachofen, B. Bernardi, A. Charrak et F. Guénard (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014), pp. 289-304 (trans. by C. Litwin). (pdf)
  • “The Nature and Ethics of Vengeful Anger,” Nomos LIII: “Passions and Emotions,” ed. J. Fleming (NYU Press, 2013), pp. 77-124. (pdf)  Reprinted with minor changes in Recht und Emotion II: Sphären der Verletzlichkeit, ed. H. Landweer and F. Bernhardt (Freiburg: Karl Alber, 2017), pp. 145-95; and in The Ethics of Anger, ed. C. D. Lewis and G. L. Bock (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020), pp. 9-49.
  • Review of T. Brudholm’s Resentment’s Virtue: Jean Améry and the Refusal to Forgive, N. Smith’s I was Wrong: the Meanings of Apologies, and L. Radzik’s Making Amends: Atonement in Morality, Law, and Politics; all for the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), Jan. 7, 2011, p. 28. (pdf)
  • “Socrates’ Political Philosophy,” in The Cambridge Companion to Socrates, ed. D. Morrison (Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 333-354. (pdf)
  • “Smith and Rousseau in dialogue: sympathy, pitié, spectatorship and narrative,” in The Philosophy of Adam Smith: Essays Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. V. Brown and S. Fleischacker, vol. 5 of The Adam Smith Review (Routledge, 2010), pp. 59-84. (pdf)
  • “Reading and Writing Plato,” Philosophy and Literature 32 (2008): 205-216. Article review of R. Blondell, The Play of Character in Plato’s Dialogues; K. Corrigan and E. Glazov-Corrigan, Plato’s Dialectic at Play: Argument, Structure, and Myth in the Symposium; D. Hyland, Questioning Platonism: Continental Interpretations of Plato; D. Nails, The People of Plato: a Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics. (pdf)
  • “Longing for the Best: Plato on Reconciliation with Imperfection,” Arion 11 (2003): 101-136.  Available via Jstor.
  • “Plato on Rhetoric and Poetry,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (first published 12/03, substantive revision 2/4/2016), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). On-line here.
  • “Philosophers in the Agora,” Perspectives on Political Science 32 (2003): 203-206. Commentary on M. Lilla’s The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics. A reply by Lilla to this and the other responses to his book is included in this issue of Perspectives.
  • “Comments on Kahn,” in New Perspectives on Plato, Modern and Ancient, ed. J. Annas and C. Rowe (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 129-144. (This commentary on C. Kahn’s “On Platonic Chronology,” included in the same volume, is a discussion of the case for any organization of Plato’s works according to (presumed) dates of their composition.)
  • “Irony in the Platonic Dialogues,” Philosophy and Literature 26 (2002): 84-106. (pdf)
  • “Relying on Your Own Voice: An Unsettled Rivalry of Moral Ideals in Plato’s Protagoras,” Review of Metaphysics 53 (1999): 283-307. (pdf)
  • E Pluribus Unum? On the Platonic ‘Corpus’,” Ancient Philosophy 19 (1999): 361-397. An exchange about this article between the author and Charles Kahn is published in Ancient Philosophy 20 (2000): 189-197.
  • Review of J. Gray’s Enlightenment’s Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age, Political Theory 27 (1999): 274-281.
  • “Platonic Liberalism: Self-Perfection as a Foundation of Political Theory,” in Plato and Platonism, ed. J. M. van Ophuijsen (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1999), pp. 102-134. Slightly different version published in French as “Le Libéralisme Platonicien: de la Perfection Individuelle comme Fondement d’une Théorie Politique,” in vol. 2 of Contre Platon, ed. M. Dixsaut (Paris: Vrin, 1995), pp. 155-195 (trans. by M. and J. Dixsaut).
  • “Adam Smith on Friendship and Love,” co-authored with D. J. Den Uyl, Review of Metaphysics 49 (1996): 609-637.
  • “Happiness, Tranquillity, and Philosophy,” Critical Review 10 (1996): 1-32. (pdf)
  • “Rights and Wrongs: Jefferson, Slavery, and Philosophical Quandaries,” in A Culture of Rights: The Bill of Rights in Philosophy, Politics and Law—1791 and 1991, ed. M. Lacey and K. Haakonssen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 144-214. (pdf)
  • Politike Episteme in Plato’s Statesman,” in Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, ed. J. Anton and A. Preus, vol. 3 (New York: State University of New York Press, 1989), pp. 141-67. (pdf)
  • “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Mall: Philosophical Thoughts on Political Iconography,” Critical Inquiry 12 (1986): 688-719. (pdf) Reprinted in Critical Issues in Public Art: Content, Context, and Controversy, ed. H. Senie and S. Webster (New York: Harper/Collins, 1992), pp. 71-100; and in Art and the Public Sphere, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (University of Chicago Press, 1992), pp. 79-112.
  • “Philosophy, Education, and Courage in Plato’s Laches,” Interpretation 14 (1986): 177-193.
  • “Plato’s Metaphilosophy,” in Platonic Investigations, ed. Dominic O’Meara (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1985): 1-33. Reprinted with some changes under the title “Plato’s Metaphilosophy: Why Plato Wrote Dialogues,” in Platonic Writings, Platonic Readings, ed. C. Griswold (New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1988), pp. 143-167. (pdf) French translation, with further changes, published as “La naissance et la défense de la raison dialogique chez Platon,” in La naissance de la Raison en Grèce, ed. J.-F. Mattéi (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1990), pp. 359-89 (trans. by B. Boulad and reviewed by A. and J.-F. Mattéi). Also reprinted in Plato: Critical Assessments, ed. N. Smith, vol. 1 (New York: Routledge, 1998): 221-252.
  • “The Ideas and the Criticism of Poetry in Plato’s Republic, Book 10,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 19 (1981): 135-150.  Available via Project Muse here.

some occasional pieces –

  • “On Forgiveness,” in “The Stone” series of The New York Times, published on-line on Dec. 26, 2010, and archived here.
  • “Happiness and Cypher’s Choice: is Ignorance Bliss?” in The Matrix and Philosophy, vol. III of a series “Popular Culture and Philosophy,” ed. W.T. Irwin. (Open Court, 2002), pp. 126-137.
  • “Attracting Blacks to Philosophy,” American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy 92.1 (1993), pp. 55-59.

In addition, Griswold has written on subjects such as the American Enlightenment. He has also published in such venues as The MonistRevue de Métaphysique et de Morale, Man and World, the Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, and in various edited volumes (including The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith). His work has been translated into French, German, and Italian.

In another register: Griswold discussed the topic of forgiveness on Philosophy Talk (hosted by Stanford philosophers Ken Taylor and John Perry, 2005); it is archived here. For another conversation about forgiveness and related notions with Griswold, on Australian National Radio (2008), see here. In 2009 he appeared on “Why? Philosophical discussions about Everyday Life,” broadcast by North Dakota public radio (archived here), as well as on a show on forgiveness broadcast by Connecticut Public Radio (archived here). In 2014 he was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for a show on forgiveness in the age of the internet (archived here), and by “The Takeaway” (a national radio show co-produced by Public Radio International and WNYC Radio, in collaboration with The New York Times and WGBH Boston) on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon (archived here). 

Fellowships and Grants (selected):

  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 2009/10
  • Cullman Center Fellowship (New York Public Library), 2009/10 (declined)
  • Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship, 2004/05
  • National Humanities Center Fellowship, 1989/90, 2009/10 (declined)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 1986/87
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 1984
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Director, Seminar for
    Secondary School Teachers, 1985
  • Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowship, 8/1989 – 12/1990
  • American Council of Learned Societies Travel Grants, 1987, 1990
  • Earhart Foundation Fellowship Research Grants, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1999, 2010

Teaching (partial list):

  • Spring 1998: contemporary virtue ethics
  • 1999/2000 academic year, team-taught seminar with Glenn Loury, supported by a Templeton Foundation grant. Enlightenment political theory (Sem. I), and its applicability to contemporary social and political issues, especially as relating to race and poverty (Sem. II)
  • Spring 2001: moral realism
  • Spring 2002: Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature
  • Spring 2003 and Spring 2004: seminar on the problem of reconciliation with imperfection (Platonic perfectionism being the point of departure)
  • Spring 2006: sympathy, empathy, and their ethical relevance (readings from Hume, Smith, Rousseau, and contemporary work)
  • Fall 2007: graduate seminar on Rousseau (with contrasting texts from Hume and Smith, as well as relevant contemporary readings on such topics as social contract theory; narrative; and the emotions)
  • Spring 2008: undergraduate seminar on the notion of narrative and its possible usefulness in understanding the idea of the unity of one’s life. Readings from Plato and Aristotle through MacIntyre, Velleman, and Goldie.
  • Fall 2008: graduate seminar on narrative
  • Fall 2010: the emotions (undergraduate seminar)
  • Fall 2011: graduate seminar on the emotions
  • Fall 2012: undergraduate seminar on Rousseau and the Enlightenment (with discussion of Hume, Smith, and numerous contemporary sources). Similar seminar, Spring 2015.
  • Spring 2013: undergraduate course, “Wealth, Ethics, and Liberty.”
  • Spring 2014, 2016, and later: undergraduate seminar on the political problem of religion
  • Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017: freshman honors seminar on anger and related emotions (Kilachand Honors College)

Griswold’s graduate level teaching at Boston University has also included courses on various Platonic dialogues. His undergraduate teaching has included introductory and mid-level courses in ethics, political philosophy, and the history of modern philosophy.

In 2014 he was the recipient of a Neu Family Award for Excellence in Teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences (Boston University).

Griswold’s professional service has included membership on the committees of the Stanford Humanities Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities evaluating applications for Fellowships. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Ancient Philosophy and Theoria, and was a member of the Advisory Council of B.U.’s Institute on Race and Social Division. His service to Boston University has included chairing the philosophy department. He has served as a member of the University Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure (UAPT) committee (2011-13); as departmental Director of Graduate Studies; and as departmental Director of Fundraising and Alumni Outreach.  During the 2020-22 academic years he is a member of the Academic Freedom Committee of BU’s Faculty Council.

As department Chair at BU, Griswold helped land substantial gifts to the department (for some further information, see here).