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

Jan Gerhold

Dissertation Project

In my dissertation project I examine the relationship between mathematics and dialectic in the educational program in Plato’s Republic. My doctoral supervisors are Prof. Jonathan Beere (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Prof. Benjamin Morison (Princeton University).

The central question of my dissertation project is why the Socrates of Plato’s Republic puts forward the view that the potential philosopher-rulers should study mathematics extensively as a preparation to dialectic. Why should, say, knowing facts about triangles or squares be relevant as a preparation for knowing what justice or goodness is? Or why should engaging in mathematical reasoning be helpful for engaging in the type of reasoning characteristic of dialectic? In order to answer these questions, I not only examine the relevant Platonic texts but also draw on certain ancient Greek mathematical texts.


Jan Gerhold is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and a doctoral student in the Research Training Group ‘Philosophy, Science and the Sciences’. In 2016, he received a M.A. in philosophy from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin with a thesis on Plato’s methodology. In 2012, he received a B.A. in philosophy from Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg with a thesis on Neoplatonic commentaries on Aristotle’s Categories. In 2011, he studied philosophy as a visiting student (Erasmus) at the Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV); in 2017, as a doctoral student, he spent a semester at Princeton University as a visiting student research collaborator.