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Author: Jana Schultz

Abstract

In his Vita Isidori, Damascius emphasizes the important contribution women have made towards the prosperity of Neoplatonic schools, both as being actively involved in philosophical practices and as wives or mothers who promoted the philosophical careers of their male relatives. However, women are also presented as inferior in value simply due to their being female, and they are construed as an—at least potential—obstacle to philosophical progress. My paper will shed light on this tension by examining Damascius’ ideal of the male-female relationship as it is mirrored in his presentation of gendered metaphysical principles such as Limit and the Unlimited. This is a complementary relationship in which the male part is superior and dominant. The female-connoted principles are indeed active, powerful and necessary—without them no secondary beings could arise—but they are also potentially dangerous since they tend towards chaos. Nevertheless, Damascius does not deny women the ability to attain virtue, but he presents two ways in which women can live a virtuous life, namely (i) by transcending femaleness and being actively involved in philosophical practice or (ii) by becoming devoted wives and mothers. The second—and in Damascius’ description more usual—way demands that women not only be virtuous, but also that they adjust themselves to the needs of their husbands in order to reach complementary relationships.

In: Women and the Female in Neoplatonism
In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
THE CONTRIBUTORS / DIE AUTOREN Nicholas R. Baima Nathan Bauer Thomas C. Brickhouse Travis Butler Stefan Büttner Moritz Cordes Tsarina Doyle Terence Irwin Péter Lautner Nathan Rothschild Petter Sandstad Nicholas D. Smith Katja Maria Vogt Michael Wreen
Volume Editors: Jana Schultz and James Wilberding
Sosipatra, Hypatia, Macrina: some of the most famous female philosophers of antiquity were connected to Neoplatonism. But what does it mean to be a woman philosopher in late antiquity? How is the inclusive nature of the Neoplatonic schools connected to their ethical, political, and metaphysical ideas? What role does the religious dimension of late Neoplatonism and the role of women as priestesses play in understanding Neoplatonic women philosophers?
This book offers thirteen essays that examine women and the female in Neoplatonism from a variety of perspectives, paying particular attention to the interactions between the metaphysics, psychology, and ethics.
In: Women and the Female in Neoplatonism