Ermioni Prokopaki

Ermioni Prokopaki
Teaching Fellow in the Humanities
Stuart Hall, Room 231-C (Autumn 2023 and Winter 2024)
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter: Tuesdays, 3:00 - 5:00 pm
PhD, University of Chicago, 2022; BA, Vassar College, 2015
Teaching at UChicago since 2023
Research Interests: Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy; Philosophy of Mind; Epistemology; History of Analytic Philosophy; Philosophy of Language

Ermioni Prokopaki received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2023 and her BA from Vassar College in 2015. She works primarily in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy with a focus on Plato's epistemology and Plato's epistemic psychology. She has advocated for a dynamic conception of knowledge, according to which the knower is defined by her ongoing commitment to the value of truth. In her present work, she examines whether the practice of knowledge and philosophy may be fruitfully compared to the practice of mathematical commensuration. Her other major philosophical interest lies in the History of Analytic Philosophy and, in particular, the work of Wittgenstein and Ryle. 

Recent Courses

PHIL 20128 Mathematics in Plato

This course explores the role that mathematics plays in Plato's philosophy with a special focus on the concept of incommensurability. We will be reading Platonic dialogues in which mathematical practice figures prominently and our goal will be to inquire into the ways that mathematical practice is similar to philosophical practice and the ways it can serve as a useful exemplar. We will also inquire into the ways that mathematics falls short of philosophy, which will give us a better sense of what the philosophical goals are. Finally, we will consider the challenges presented by mathematical incommensurability and we will investigate the ways that this concept is appropriated by Plato for philosophical purposes.

Texts will include: Meno, Republic 5-7, Timaeus, Theaetetus, Statesman. We will read some secondary literature on Plato (e.g. S. Menn, H. Benson, T. Echterling) and on the mathematics of the time (W. Knorr, J. Klein) but not every time. (B)

No mathematical background required, no prior familiarity with Plato required, no Greek required.

2023-2024 Spring
Philosophy of Mathematics

PHIL 29200-03/29300-03 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Plato’s Theaetetus

Plato’s Theaetetus asks the question “What is knowledge?” and examines three definitions, none of which survives Socrates’ refutation. In this class, we will be reading Plato’s text closely, aiming to understand what those definitions propose and why they fail. This text is a crucial source for Platonic epistemology and has been central in debates about the development of Plato’s thought on issues that range from the Theory of Forms to the philosophy of mind. The dialogue’s focus on our perceptual faculty gives it a place in contemporary philosophical debates about the role perception plays in the intellectual life of a human being. Some such debates that we will touch on in this class pertain to the rationality of the body, the nature of empirical cognition, and the possibility of objectivity. The dialogue’s discussion of propositional unity recalls the philosophy of logical atomism prevalent in the early 20th ce., a comparison which we will explore directly. The Theaetetus is also home to Plato’s infamous argument on the impossibility of false judgment and the comparison of the Socratic method to the craft of midwifery, as well as the image of the mind as aviary. Readings in secondary literature will draw from the philosophy of perception, particularly in its relation to judgment in the 20th and 21st centuries and, more generally, from topics in the philosophy of mind (include: McDowell, Stroud, Anscombe, Kern, Ryle); and from scholarship in ancient philosophy (include: Burnyeat, Fine, Cooper, McDowell, Lee, Nussbaum, Owen, Ryle). Interestingly, some of our authors belong in both categories. Officially about knowledge, in substance about human reason, a little bit about mathematics, and – perhaps – ultimately about ethics, the Theaetetus is one of Plato’s most puzzling and fascinating dialogues!

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Open only to intensive-track and philosophy majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2020-2021 Winter