It’s time for the second episode of New Voices in Philosophy. In this episode, Olivia Branscum talks with Christina Van Dyke, professor emerita of philosophy at Calvin University, about women philosophers in the medieval Latin west. We discuss the contemplative and mystical traditions of philosophy in the middle ages, which focused on an engaged, practical search for truth rather than the abstract arguments that dominated other philosophical traditions. Many women medieval philosophers – such as Julian of Norwich, Angela Foligno, Catherine of Siena, Hadewijch, Margaret Ebner, and Hildegard von Bingen – were writing in the contemplative and mystical traditions, so recovering their work involves learning about different philosophical forms and genres. We also talk about the value of being yourself when pursuing academic philosophy.
Madeleine Birdsell provided research for this episode. To listen to this episode, please visit our podcast page.
We hope you enjoy! Thanks for listening.
Works by Medieval Women Philosophers Mentioned in the Episode
Julian of Norwich, Shewings: Revelations of Divine Love. Available in modern English from Paulist Press and W.W. Norton & Co.
Angela Foligno, Il Libro della Beata Angela da Foligno (Book of Visions and Instructions). Complete works available in English translation from Paulist Press.
Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue of Divine Providence. Catherine also wrote numerous letters and prayers that remain extant. The Dialogue is available in English translation from Newman Press. An English-language anthology of her main ideas (drawn from the Dialogue, selected letters, and prayers) is available from ACMRS (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies).
Hadewijch composed poems, letters, and a visionary text. Complete works available in English translation from Paulist Press.
Margaret Ebner, Offenbarungen (Revelations). Available in English translation from Paulist Press.
Hildegard von Bingen was a relatively prolific author. Several of her best-known treatises are listed below, all of which can be found in translation.
Scivias (Know the Ways), available in English translation from Paulist Press.
Liber Vitae Meritorum (Book of the Rewards of Life), available in English translation from Garland.
Liber Divinorum Operum (Book of Divine Works/Book of the Operations of God), available in English translation from The Catholic University of America Press.
Physica, available in English translation from Healing Arts Press.
Causae et Curae (Causes and Cures), available in English translation from MedievalMS.
Other Texts Mentioned in the Episode
The Cambridge History of Medieval Philosophy, ed. Robert Pasnau in association with Christina Van Dyke.
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
Articles by Christina on medieval contemplative philosophy:
"From Meditation to Contemplation: Broadening the Borders of Philosophy in the 13th-15th Centuries" (for Pluralizing Philosophy’s Past – New Reflections in the History of Philosophy, eds. A. Griffioen and M. Backmann, Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming)
“Taking the ‘Dis’ out of ‘Disability’: Martyrs, Mothers, and Mystics in the Middle Ages” (for Disability in Medieval Christian Philosophy and Theology, ed. S. Williams, Routledge Press)
“Medieval Mystics on Persons: What John Locke Didn't Tell You,” for Persons: a History, ed. A. Lolordo (Oxford Philosophical Concepts Series, Oxford University Press, 2019), 123-153.
“The Phenomenology of Immortality,” The History of the Philosophy of Mind.Vol. 2: Philosophy of Mind in the Early and High Middle Ages, ed. M. Cameron. (London: Routledge, 2019), 219-239.
“‘Many Know Much, but Do Not Know Themselves’: The Centrality of Self-Knowledge in the Affective Medieval Contemplative Tradition” in Consciousness and Self-Knowledge in Medieval Philosophy: Proceedings of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics Volume 14, eds. G Klima and A. Hall (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018), 89-106.
“What has History to do with Philosophy? Insights from the Medieval Contemplative Tradition” in Philosophy and the Historical Perspective, ed. M. Van Ackeren, Proceedings of the British Academy, Oxford University Press, 214 (2018) 155-170.
“Self-Knowledge, Abnegation, and Fulfillment in Medieval Mysticism,” Self-Knowledge, ed. U. Renz (Oxford Philosophical Concepts Series, Oxford University Press, 2016) 131-145.
“Mysticism,” in The Cambridge History of Medieval Philosophy, eds. Pasnau and Van Dyke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) 720-34.
For information on Christina’s forthcoming book about women medieval contemplatives (and other fun stuff!), visit https://www.cvdphilosopher.net/.
Olivia Branscum is a PhD student in Philosophy at Columbia University. She is co-producer of the New Voices podcast