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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Philosophy, Science and the Sciences

Benjamin Wilck

Testing Definitions. Aristotelian Dialectic and Euclidean Mathematics

In my dissertation, I critically examine ancient philosophical and mathematical strategies to refute or to establish principles of mathematical proof, especially definitions. In particular, I explore the interrelations between the philosophical theory and the actual practice of mathematical definition. The focus of my research lies on Aristotle’s theory of definition in the Organon and on Euclid’s Elements.

CV

Benjamin Wilck is a doctoral candidate in the RTG Philosophy, Science and the Sciences and in the Graduate Program in Ancient Philosophy of Humboldt University Berlin. His doctoral supervisors are Professor Jonathan Beere (Humboldt University Berlin / Princeton University), Professor Stephen Menn (McGill University, Montréal), and Professor Benjamin Morison (Princeton University). After a successful career in high-performance swimming, Benjamin studied Philosophy, Cultural Studies, and Aesthetics in Berlin and Paris. In March 2014, he received a Magister Artium with honours from Humboldt University Berlin.

Research Interests

AoS

Ancient Philosophy (especially Ancient Logic, Dialectic, and Metaphysics); Ancient Mathematics

AoC

Philosophical Logic; Theory & History of Science; Metaphysics

Honours & grants

2017

Princeton University, VSRC at the Faculty of Philosophy, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

2014­–17

Doctoral fellowship, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

2014

Award from the Carl & Max Schneider Foundation for the M.A. thesis "Is Aristotelian Metaphysics a Science?"

2009

Université Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Erasmus student at the Faculty of Philosophy, funded by the European Union

2004

Prix Apollinaire for Extraordinary Achievements in French Literacy from the Robert Bosch Foundation

Academic teaching

Summer 2012

Undergraduate seminar "Introduction to the Theory of Forms in Plato and Aristotle (Academic Writing)" (co-taught with Jan Matthijs Menting) at the Department of Philosophy of University of Potsdam (Germany)

Winter

2011–12

Graduate seminar "Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics" (co-taught with Colin G. King) at the Department of Philosophy of Humboldt University Berlin (Germany)

Summer 2011

Undergraduate seminar "Introduction to Formal Logic" at the Department of Philosophy of Humboldt University Berlin (Germany)

Academic talks (selection)

  • "A New Solution to Aristotle’s Problem of Babbling", The 91st Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, University of Edinburgh, 14-16 July 2017, Edinburgh (UK)
  • "Mathematical Examples in Topics VI", Conference Aristotle’s Topics – The Central Books, Humboldt University Berlin, 7-8 July 2017, Berlin (Germany)
  • "A New Solution to Aristotle’s Problem of Babbling", 7th HU-KCL Graduate Philosophy Conference, King’s College London, 22-23 June 2017, London (UK)
  • "A New Solution to Aristotle’s Problem of Babbling", 61st Annual Congress of the Canadian Philosophical Association, Ryerson University Toronto, 28-31 May 2017, Toronto (Canada)
  • "What’s Odd About Euclid’s Definitions of Odd and Even? Aristotelian Dialectic and Ancient Arithmetic", Annual Conference of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, Ryerson University Toronto, 27-29 May 2017, Toronto (Canada)
  • "Sextus Empiricus’ Criticism of the Foundations of Ancient Mathematics", International Conference: Scepticism from Antiquity to Modern Times, University of Hamburg, Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies – Jewish Scepticism, 8-11 April 2017, Hamburg (Germany)
  • "How Many Noses Did Socrates Have? The definition of snub nose and a new solution to Aristotle’s problem of babbling", 5th Stockholm Philosophy Graduate Conference, Stockholm University, 28-29 April 2017, Stockholm (Sweden)
  • "A New Solution to Aristotle’s Problem of Babbling", Philsoc meetings, Princeton University, Department of Philosophy, 13 April 2017, Princeton (New Jersey, USA)
  • "How Many Noses Did Socrates Have? The definition of snub nose and a new solution to Aristotle’s problem of babbling", Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy Workshop: Argument in Ancient Thought, University of Chicago, 7-8 April 2017, Chicago (Illinois, USA)
  • "How Many Noses Did Socrates Have? The definition of snub nose and a new solution to Aristotle’s problem of babbling", 11th Southeast Graduate Philosophy Conference (SEGPC 2017), University of Florida at Gainesville, 17-18 March 2017, Gainesville (Florida, USA)
  • "How Many Noses Did Socrates Have? The definition of snub nose and a new solution to Aristotle’s problem of babbling", 49th Meeting of the North Texas Philosophical Association, University of Texas at Dallas, 31 March – 1 April 2017, Dallas (Texas, USA)
  • "How Many Noses Did Socrates Have? The definition of snub nose and a new solution to Aristotle’s problem of babbling", North Carolina Philosophical Society Conference 2017, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 24-25 February 2017, Wilmington (North Carolina, USA)
  • "How Many Noses Did Socrates Have? The definition of snub nose and a new solution to Aristotle’s problem of babbling", 20th Oxford Philosophy Graduate Conference, University of Oxford, 11-13 November 2016, Oxford (UK)
  • "Mathematical Babbling. Aristotle on definitions with repetitions", Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature (AMPAL) on Repetition in Ancient Literature, University of Oxford, 20-21 September 2016, Oxford (UK)
  • "Point, Line, Plane, and Priority", Dr. Joseph Bjelde’s Seminar on Aristotle’s Topics, Humboldt University Berlin, 21 July 2016, Berlin (Germany)
  • "Aristotelian Dialectic and the Ancient Greek Practice of Mathematical Definition", TOPOI & Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies, 2 June 2016, Berlin (Germany)
  • "Refutation of Mathematical Definitions in Aristotle’s Topics", 2nd Berlin-Munich Workshop, LMU München, 19-20 February 2016, Munich (Germany)
  • Comments on Marilù Papandreou’s "Artefacts and Substances", 1st Berlin-Munich Workshop, Humboldt University Berlin, 27-28 November 2015, Berlin (Germany)
  • "What’s Odd about Euclid’s Definitions of Odd and Even?", Avtonomi Akadimia, 8 October 2015, Athens (Greece)

 

Conference organization and co-organization

2012

Knowledge and Demonstrative Science: Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, April 14th-18th 2012, at Humboldt University Berlin (Germany)

Further academic activities

2011–14

Research assistant to Jonathan Beere, Chair for Ancient Philosophy and History of Knowledge at the Department of Philosophy of Humboldt University Berlin

2010–14

Administrative assistant to the President of Humboldt University Berlin, Professor Jan-Hendrik Olbertz

2010–11

Event management & public relations for the 200th anniversary of Humboldt University Berlin

Memberships

The Aristotelian Society
The Canadian Philosophical Association (CPA)
Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science (CSHPS)
European Society for Analytic Philosophy (ESAP)

Contact: benjamin.wilck3@gmail.com