Abigail Breuker

Abigail Breuker is a third-year student in the Classical Studies PhD program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Languages and Philosophy from Agnes Scott College (summa cum laude, 2020) and a Master of Arts degree in Classical Studies from Columbia University (2021). Abigail’s interests lie in the field of Ancient Greek Philosophy, in particular in the works of Plato. Her undergraduate capstone project, “Contemplating Use: Two Accounts of Knowledge Acquisition in the Republic”, which argued that Plato poses a model of experiential learning in addition to learning through philosophical contemplation, won the 2020 Merle Grubbs Walker Philosophy Prize. Abigail’s MA thesis, “Neither Parts of the Face, Nor Parts of Gold: A New Way of Understanding the Unity of the Virtues in Plato’s Protagoras,” investigates the various ways of interpreting the unity of the virtues proposed in Plato’s Protagoras and offers a way of understanding the dialogue’s arguments by centering the notion that virtue is knowledge.

Abigail’s primary research interests lie in Platonic epistemology and ethics. Motivated by the desire to understand how we help one another learn, her dissertation project centers on identifying the characteristics Plato attributes to epistemically productive conversations. This work involves analyzing the norms of dialectic offered by Plato, and seeks to understand how both the characters of interlocutors and the methods they use contribute to productive dialogue. In her project, Abigail also examines the reception of these Platonic norms of dialectic in Aristotle’s Topics and how they might be applied in contemporary virtue epistemology.

Abigail is also interested in research connecting her work in ancient philosophy to the contemporary world. In November 2021, she participated in the Annual Meeting for Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World held at Columbia University. There, she presented a paper, now in review for publication, entitled “Centering Mercy: What Seneca’s De Clementia means for Institutional Justice,” in which she examined what it means for institutions, both ancient and modern, to claim justice as a central value.

At Agnes Scott, Abigail worked as a course tutor for courses in both ancient history and philosophy first-year seminars, and as a peer tutor in the Center for Writing and Speaking. At Columbia, Abigail has worked as a teaching assistant for courses in both the Philosophy and Classics departments. Specifically, she has been a TA for Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2021) and Introduction to Logic (Spring 2022), Intermediate Greek Prose (Fall 2022), and Aristotle (Spring 2023). She also serves as the 2022-2023 mentor for first and second year Classical Studies students. Email Abigail Breuker.