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Benjamin Wilck M.A.


Ancient Philosophy (APhil)


Humboldt University Berlin
Research Training Group
Philosophy Science and the Sciences
Hannoversche Straße 6
10115 Berlin


2014 – 2022
Doctoral Candidate in Philosophy, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
Doctoral supervisors: Jonathan Beere (Humboldt University Berlin) & Benjamin Morison (Princeton University)

Magister Artium degree (equals a combined B.A. + M.A.) in Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Humboldt University Berlin.

Awards and Fellowships

Trends in Classics Poster Prize by De Gruyter

Doctoral scholarship by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Visiting fellowship at Princeton University funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

2014 ­– 17
Doctoral scholarship by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

M.A. thesis award by the Carl & Max Schneider Foundation

Erasmus Exchange Student Scholarship at Sorbonne University Paris-1 by the European Union

For more information, please visit https://benjamin-wilck.org

Testing Definitions. Aristotelian Dialectic and Euclidean Mathematics

In my dissertation Euclid’s Philosophy, I argue that Euclid’s philosophical views pertaining to the ontology and epistemology of mathematical objects can be reconstructed from his mathematical practice in the Elements, and, in particular, from the ways in which he formulates his mathematical definitions. While Euclid does not expressly formulate a philosophical theory, he implicitly––yet systematically––introduces ontological distinctions and conceptual hierarchies.

In Chapter 1 “The Types of Definitions”, I reconstruct Euclid’s ontology of mathematical objects. While the general ontological theory adopted in the Elements resembles that of Aristotle in many respects, Euclid does not employ Aristotle’s terminology, or indeed, any philosophical terminology at all. Instead, as I show, Euclid systematically uses different types of definition to distinguish between metaphysically different kinds of mathematical object.

In Chapter 2 “The Order of Definitions”, I reconstruct Euclid’s aspects of epistemology of mathematical objects. In particular, I show that Euclid systematically uses ordered sequences of definitions to introduce conceptual hierarchies among the different kinds of mathematical object he distinguishes. In addition, I argue that the fact the Euclid regularly defines a term before using it in the definition of another term discloses a crucial requirement for scientific definitions: one term can enter the definition of another only if the former is conceptually more fundamental than the latter.

Euclid’s Kinds and (Their) Attributes. History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 23(2):362–397.

Can the Pyrrhonian Sceptic Suspend Belief Regarding a Scientific Definition?. History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 23(1):253–288.