Advertisement

The Torn Robe of Philosophy: Philosophy as a Woman in The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

Chapter
  • 71 Downloads
Part of the Women in the History of Philosophy and Sciences book series (WHPS, volume 3)

Abstract

Symbolic figures like Sophia, Philosophia or Lady Reason represent feminine features in texts of the Western philosophical tradition that are often overlooked in their later interpretations. The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (480–524), one of the most widely read philosophical texts of medieval times, includes a dialogue between the imprisoned Boethius who awaits his death sentence and Philosophia, a feminine personification of philosophy. In my interpretation of Philosophia, I analyze how the practice of philosophy she and Boethius stage in this text consists of working with and reflecting on the difficult emotions he struggles with. This argument is based on how ancient meanings of the noun sophia include practical, embodied, and sensual knowledge and not only theoretical knowledge. My interpretation hence involves underscoring feminine elements of philosophical reasoning that includes embodiment and emotions. Philosophia resurfaces in many philosophical texts, such as in Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies (1405), one of the greatest feminist books of the middle ages, where Lady Reason teaches the author to help her trust her feelings and judgements about women.

References

  1. Arendt, H. (1978). The life of the mind. New York: Harcourt.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, H. (1982). In R. Beiner (Ed.), Lectures on Kant’s political philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. de Beauvoir, S. (2009). The second sex. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  4. Boethius, A. (1983). The consolation of philosophy. (V. E. Watts, Trans.). New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  5. Hehle, C. (2012). Boethius’ influence on german literature to c.1500. In N. H. Kaylor, & P. E. Phillips (Eds.), A companion to Boethius in the middle ages (pp. 255–318). Leiden, Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  6. Irigaray, L. (1985). Speculum of the other woman. (G. C. Gill, Trans.). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Irigaray, L. (1993). Sorcerer love: A reading of Plato, Symposium, Diotima’s Speech. In An ethics of sexual difference. (C. Burke, & G. Gill, Trans.) (pp. 20–33). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Jung, C. G. (2009). In S. Shamdasani (Ed.), The red book. Liber novus. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  9. Kaylor, N. H., & Phillips, P. E. (Eds.). (2012). A companion to Boethius in the middle ages. Leiden, Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  10. Liddel, H. G., & Scott, R. (1996). A greek-english Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  11. Nagel, T. (1989). The view from nowhere. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Nash-Marshall, S. (2012). Boethiusʼs influence on theology and metaphysics to the 1500 c. In N. H. Kaylor, & P. E. Phillips (Eds.), A companion to Boethius in the middle ages (pp. 163–192). Leiden, Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  13. Nye, A. (1989). The hidden host: Irigaray and diotima at plato’s symposium. Hypatia (1989), 45–61.Google Scholar
  14. de Pizan, C. (1999). The book of the city of ladies. (R. Brown-Grant, Trans.). London/New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  15. Schoeller, D., & Thorgeirsdottir, S. (2019). Embodied critical thinking: The experiential turn and its transformative aspects. philoSophia 9:1, 92–109.Google Scholar
  16. Shanzer, D. (2009). Interpreting the consolation. In J. Marenbon (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Boethius (pp. 228–254). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Stopczyk-Pfundstein, A. (2003). Sophias Leib. Der Körper als Quelle der Weisheit. Stuttgart: BOD.Google Scholar
  18. Thorgeirsdottir, S. (2020) Shame, vulnerability and philosophical thinking. Sophia , 59(1), 5–17.Google Scholar
  19. Tsakiridou, C. A. (1999). Philosophy abandons woman: Gender, orality and some literate pre-socratics. In E. Bianchi (Ed.), Is feminist philosophy philosophy? (pp. 234–263). Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Waithe, M. E. (1987). Diotima of Mantinea. In M.E. Waithe, (Ed.), A history of women philosophers (Vol. 1). Ancient women philosophers. Dordrecht Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland

Personalised recommendations