Introduction to Volume 2, Issues 1–2

In: Journal of the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists
Luka Boršić Institute of Philosophy, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia

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Ivana Skuhala Karasman Institute of Philosophy, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia

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Volume 2 of the Journal of the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists consists of one double issue. The first part of volume 2 continues the work started in volume 1: in it the reader will find texts that further explore different facets of women’s contribution to philosophy in the past, with consequences for the present. As in its predecessor (volume 1, issue 2), the order of the texts is organized chronologically, stretching from Christine de Pizan in the late Middle Ages to the French Enlightenment and the post-Enlightenment of Émilie du Châtelet and Sophine Germain, respectively.

The second part of volume 2 is the first themed issue of the Journal of the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists: it is dedicated to women philosophers of Southeastern Europe. This issue is a result of a many-years-long collaboration between the Centre for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists at the University of Paderborn, led by its director and the main editor of this journal, Ruth Edith Hagengruber, and the Research Center for Women in Philosophy, founded by the guest editors of this volume, Luka Boršić and Ivana Skuhala Karasman, at the Institute of Philosophy in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2019. Within the scientific project “Croatian women philosophers in the European context”, funded by the Croatian Science Foundation, the Research Center for Women in Philosophy organized two conferences: “Women Philosophers in Southeastern Europe—Past, Present and Future” in 2020, and “Collecting the Heritage: Southeastern European Women Philosophers” in 2022. Except for Zeynep Direk’s and Anita Dremel’s, the texts in this part represent some of the contributions presented at those conferences.

The special focus on women philosophers in Southeastern Europe means gathering and exchanging information on past and present women philosophers in Southeastern Europe as well as perspectives on the future of women in philosophy in this region. This project has two premises. First, while research on women philosophers in the rest of Europe and the world has been underway in the last few decades—at least there has been a significant growth in the number and quality of scholarly texts on American, British, French, German, and Italian women philosophers—there is little scholarly information available on women philosophers of Southeastern Europe. Second, due to linguistic barriers, and the Western lack of interest in getting acquainted with texts in “different” languages, works of many women philosophers of the region are still not known to the rest of the world. We hope that this issue of the Journal of the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists will contribute to changing this.

The region of Southeastern Europe is problematic from many perspectives. It was the region in which the famous Theodosian border cut the oikoumene into two parts, resulting in two different historical and cultural developments: Western Europe and Eastern Europe. The region is marked by a variety of perspectives and historical tensions: the Christian Europe vs. the Ottoman Empire, the Catholic “West” vs. the Orthodox “East”, communism vs. the transition to capitalism, the nineteenth-century desire to unite vs. the late twentieth-century desire to split, life at the border vs. the magnetism of the centre, the periphery of the cultural world vs. authentic and independent cultural identity, shame vs. pride. The list could go on.

In this part we have contributions from the following countries: Croatia, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Turkey. The order of the texts is different from the previous issues: we did not follow the temporal line but rather the geographic: starting from the westernmost country in the list (Croatia), we moved eastwards to Turkey.

The first part of the volume opens with Elisabeth Mairhofer’s text “‘Take the Pickaxe of Your Understanding and Dig!’ Christine de Pizan’s Early Formulation of Kant’s Sapere Aude”. In it Mairhofer argues that Christine de Pizan (1364–1431) advocated for the use of one’s own reason, which can free one from confusion, immaturity, and faith in authority, thus preventing the uncritical adoption of other people’s opinions, centuries before the Enlightenment. Despite this, citations of the postulate “Have the courage to use your own understanding” still mainly attribute it to Kant rather than de Pizan. This exemplifies just one more disregard for women’s contribution to fundamental philosophical thought, thus making Christine de Pizan share the fate of many women whose works have not received and still do not receive the same attention as those of male authors, even though they contain truly groundbreaking ideas.

Within the text titled “Teresa’s Demons: Teresa of Ávila’s Influence on the Cartesian Skeptical Scenario of Demonic Deception”, Jan Forsman undertakes an analysis of the correlation between Descartes’s Meditations and El Castillo Interior, by the Spanish mystic, nun, and saint Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582). Forsman posits that the impact of Teresa of Ávila on Descartes is discernible in the skeptical narrative of demonic deception, wherein the meditator confronts the challenge of distinguishing veracity from the deceptive semblances crafted by malevolent entities. The demonological discourses prevalent in the 1500s provided both Teresa of Ávila and subsequently Descartes with the opportunity to depict their deceivers as not merely diverting but also formidable adversaries, posing a challenge that is arduous to overcome.

In the aftermath of Locke’s Essay, James O. Young argues in his text “Catharine Trotter Cockburn on Moral Knowledge” that Catharine Trotter Cockburn (1679–1749) combined Locke’s empiricism with naturalism, an approach that differed from those of other empiricists (Hutcheson, Hume, and Clarke). She held that moral good is natural good that is cognizable empirically, just as any other matters of natural fact are known: empirically. In her approach, Young agues, Cockburn’s position was not only unusual for its time but also ahead of its time.

In her text “Feeling Happiness, Feeling Science: Diffractive Readings of Émilie Du Châtelet’s and Sophie Germain’s Philosophical Writings”, Maria Tamboukou delves into the philosophical writings of Émilie Du Châtelet (1706–1749) and Sophie Germain (1776–1831) “through a diffractive lens”. Specifically, Tamboukou examines their approach to happiness, both as a theoretical concept and as a lived experience. Her thesis posits that their understanding of happiness transcends the gendered norms and discourses prevalent during the long duration of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For Du Châtelet and Germain, happiness is intricately linked to the joys and pleasures of knowledge, understanding, living, and creativity. While feelings play a central role in both women’s theory of happiness, they manifest along distinct trajectories within the broader philosophical history of emotions and affects. Despite their original and unique contributions, these perspectives remain largely absent from the today’s ethical discourse.

The second part of the volume opens with Anita Dremel’s text, “Epistemic Injustice and Feminist Education: The Case of the Centre for Women’s Studies in Zagreb.” Dremel describes the role of the Centre for Women’s Studies in Zagreb in promoting women’s studies. Besides describing the history and function of the cws, the research discusses the educational aspect of this institution from the perspective of feminist epistemology. The contribution uses not only the documents of the cws but also relies on semi-structured interviews with women actively involved in the work of the cws.

The text “The Contribution of Croatian Women Philosophers to the Study of Croatian Philosophy” by Luka Boršić and Ivana Skuhala Karasman consists of three main sections. The first section provides a brief overview of some of the distinctive features of Croatian philosophy. In this part the authors discuss some specificities of forming the concept of “national philosophy” in Croatia. The second section introduces five Croatian women philosophers who have made significant contributions to studies of Croatian philosophy, mostly the history of Croatian philosophy. Summaries of their works are presented, together with an assessment of their impact on the development of the study of the history of Croatian philosophy. The third and final section explains why Croatian women philosophers have played a more prominent role than their male counterparts in advancing the research on national philosophy.

Katerina Kolozova’s text “Against Embodiment: Subjectivity Viewed from a Materialist Perspective” presents a different approach. Rather than a presentation of some aspect of the history of Macedonian women philosophers, the text itself is a contribution of a prominent Macedonian women philosopher. In the text, Kolozova argues that Luce Irigaray’s use of Marx’s theory of value production, the ontology, and the dialectics of value form uses the same structure as the famous M-C-M (money – commodity – money) formula. Kolozova argues that this formula may be transposed into the formula P-C-P (phallus – commodity/femininity – phallus). Kolozova argues alongside with Irigaray, who breaks down this logic to the subject/object dialectic whereby the object is the product of the subject precisely because it is stripped of any agency. Considering the amalgamation of object, physical, female, absence of agency, defined by its opposition to subjectivity, reason, and agency, is one and the same thing, Irigaray contends that Reason is always already masculine, male.

Dimka Ivanova Gicheva-Gocheva, in her text “The Tide Is Turning: More and More Philosophizing Women in Bulgaria”, focuses on the history of the University of Sofia, the oldest and largest university in Bulgaria until recently, and the place where the inclusion of female scholars is most evident. Gicheva-Gocheva provides statistics on the number of women who studied and taught at this university since its foundation, as well as in other institutions in the last three decades. She concludes that more women intellectuals are participating in the academic and cultural life of Bulgaria, and that they have more opportunities for employment than in the previous century. The text is a valuable for richness of information on women philosophers in Bulgaria.

Kateryna Karpenko’s text “The Struggle of Ukrainian Women for the Right to Higher Education: Historical and Philosophical Receptions of Liudmyla Smoliar” examines the work of Liudmyla Smoliar (1958–2004), a Ukrainian historian and a leading scholar of the Ukrainian women’s movement. Smoliar devoted herself to exploring the historical, socio-cultural, and artistic aspects of Ukrainian women’s quest for higher education. Her works reveal the historical and philosophical dimensions of this struggle, which can be better understood through Gadamer’s concept of the fusion of horizons between the author and the reader. Smoliar’s texts invite us to engage with the past and the present, and to expand our horizons with each new interpretation.

In her text “Ioanna Kuçuradi: The Ideal of Turkish Modernity in Turkish Philosophical Humanism”, Zaynep Direk examines how, in the twentieth century, philosophical anthropology and value theory emerged as foundational pillars of Turkish modernity within the philosophical discourse. Notably influenced by the philosophical perspectives of Nicolai Hartmann and Max Scheler, the Turkish philosopher Takiyeddin Mengüşoğlu, alongside his disciple Ioanna Kuçuradi (born 1936), laid the groundwork for an academic tradition referred to as “Turkish Philosophical Humanism”. This philosophical orientation emphasizes the imperative of structuring constitutional law to facilitate the flourishing of citizens as individuals, thereby safeguarding the intrinsic value of the human being. This study analyses Ioanna Kuçuradi’s philosophical and political activities. The inquiry focuses on the challenges she encountered amid the political pressures on academia in Turkey, exploring her personalism and value theory as lenses through which she reflected upon her own experiences.

We thank all the authors for their exciting contributions and welcome further contributions which will broaden our horizons. And we especially thank Ruth Edith Hagengruber and Mary Ellen Waithe for inviting us to be guest editors of this exciting journal!

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