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

Jan Dreßler

Thesis: Perceptions of Philosophy in Classical Athens

The arrival of philosophy and the art of rhetoric in 5th and 4th century Athens has left its mark on the city’s cultural life as well as on classical culture in general. The process was, however, accompanied by a sometimes heated discussion about the dangers the new education was expected or supposed to have for the community. This critical discussion cannot be dismissed as mere comical mockery, or be reduced to underlying political conflicts alone. In Athens, the new education’s implications for the communal life of the polis were for the first time discussed in front of a larger public. The first in-depth reconstruction and analysis of this discourse has been the aim of my PhD thesis.

The dissertation was successfully completed in 2012.

A summary of the dissertation was published in the journal eTopoi:  “Gefährlich und nutzlos? Kritik an Philosophie und Rhetorik im klassischen Athen“, in: Volume 2 (2012/2013), eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies, 2 (Apr 2013), 165–186.

The results of the dissertation were published as a monograph in the series “Beiträge zur Altertumskunde”: Jan Dreßler, Wortverdreher, Sonderlinge, Gottlose. Kritik an Philosophie und Rhetorik im klassischen Athen, Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 331, Berlin u. Boston: De Gruyter 2014.


Jan Dreßler (1981) studied Ancient History, Modern History and English Philology at the Humboldt-Universität and in Toulouse, France and graduated with an MA in 2009. From 2009 to 2012, he was a Doctoral Fellow of the Excellence Cluster Topoi. He received his PhD in 2013 with his thesis on the perception of philosophy and rhetoric in classical Athens. In 2013, he was a Visiting Researcher in the Excellence Cluster Topoi with a project on Roman ideas about the origins of culture. His research focuses mainly on ancient intellectual history in its historical setting.
You can find further information on the Topoi website.