The son of a Scottish woman and a Greek father, he attended the American Robert College in Istanbul and studied at the Chicago Theological Seminary theology. In 1931 he earned his doctorate at Harvard University with Alfred North Whitehead on God as a metaphysical concept. After teaching for several years at Queen 's University in Kingston, Ontario, he went in 1948 at Cornell University. From 1955 to 1976 he was Professor Stuart of Philosophy at Princeton, then Mills Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley until 1987. In 1990 he received a grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Twice a Guggenheim Fellowship he was awarded; He also was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, corresponding member of the British Academy and a member of the American Philosophical Society. Vlastos died in 1991 before he could complete a new collection of essays on the philosophy of Socrates.
Vlastos carried much the revival of interest of the American philosophical world of Plato, along with John Lloyd Ackrill and GEL Owen. In particular, his interpretation of Socrates as one directed by positive beliefs thinker in Socrates: ironist and Moral Philosopher considered groundbreaking. As a Congregational Christian, he dealt primarily in the 30s with Christian- socialist alternative to the capitalist model of society, but said after the Second World War no longer publicly on this issue. Many students of Vlastos are now even eminent scholars in the field of ancient philosophy, such as Terence Irwin, Richard Kraut, Frank A. Lewis, Paul Woodruff and Alexander Nehamas.
Monographs and collections of essays own
- Christian Faith and Democracy, Association Press, 1939
- Platonic Studies, Princeton University Press, 1973, ISBN 0-691-07162-4
- Socratic Studies, Cambridge University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-521-44735-6
- Studies in Greek Philosophy Volume I: the Presocratics, Princeton University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-691-03310-2
- Plato 's Universe, Parmenides Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1-930972-13- X
- Towards the Christian Revolution - with R.B.Y. Scott, Willett, Clark & Company, 1936.
- Plato, a Collection of Critical Essays: I, Metaphysics and Epistemology; II, Ethics, Politics, and Philosophy of Art and Religion Anchor Books / Doubleday and Company, 1971