New Voices in the History of Philosophy

Medieval Women and the Contemplative Tradition: Interview with Christina Van Dyke

July 31, 2021

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.

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