Doing Public Philosophy in the Middle Ages? On the Philosophical Potential of Medieval Devotional Texts

Res Philosophica 99 (2):241-274 (2022)
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Medieval and early modern devotional works rarely receive serious treatment from philosophers, even those working in the subfields of philosophy of religion or the history of ideas. In this article, I examine one medieval devotional work in particular—the Middle High German image- and verse-program, Christus und die minnende Seele (CMS)—and I argue that it can plausibly be viewed as a form of medieval public philosophy, one that both exhibited and encouraged philosophical innovation. I address a few objections to my proposal—namely, that CMS is neither public enough nor that it counts as proper philosophy—and I attempt to defend CMS’s public philosophical credentials in light of these objections. I conclude with a brief discussion of how devotional texts like CMS can help us do innovative public philosophy today.

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Amber L. Griffioen
Duke Kunshan University


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