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

Ronja Hildebrandt

Description Research Project: In my dissertation project, I am pursuing the question of how Aristotle defends philosophy against critics such as his contemporary Isocrates. I believe that such a study is both historically and systematically interesting. It is historically interesting because it sheds light on how Aristotle positioned himself against his opponents in the question of what philosophy is and why we should study it. Furthermore, it is systematically interesting because views similar to Isocrates’ still linger on today, even if maybe not first and foremost among philosophers: namely views along the line that philosophy should prepare for the practical life and that philosophy as Plato or Aristotle taught it is hardly useful for this life. Can Aristotle be a guide to a response to such critics?

The project has the following three parts: A first part introduces Isocrates’ criticism against the way Aristotle (and others) understood and valued philosophy. In the second part of my dissertation, I try to determine what Aristotle understands as philosophy – because if we want to understand why and how Aristotle defends “philosophy”, we first need to understand what he means by this term. Finally, I discuss Aristotle’s arguments in defence of philosophy. My focus will be on arguments from Aristotle’s Protrepticus since this work was designed as a defence of and an encouragement towards philosophy. In the Protrepticus, we find arguments for the intrinsic and the extrinsic value of philosophy, and I will discuss both kinds of arguments.


Since October 2014: Doctoral Program in Philosophy, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

2011 -2015: M.A. of Philosophy, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

2012-2013: Erasmus Mundus Exchange Student. University of Nottingham.

2008-2011: B.A. of Philosophy. Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Contact: ronja.hildebrandt@gmail.com