This paper will argue that female mystics, namely, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Teresa of Avila, were philosophers. Like most women of the medieval era, they had little education and almost no opportunity to rise above the private sphere. Despite these limitations during their lifetimes their achievements were vast and, in our own times, have been recognised as the first female Doctors of the Church. Through their mystical union with God, they demonstrated in both word and deed that Christian mysticism is not solely faith based but that it also needs and uses reason, albeit as an experience derived from and sustained in faith. However, Aristotle’s arguments infer that woman lacks the capacity to reason in the way that man can, which, if true, means that women cannot do philosophy. Theological arguments about the first Eve, as expounded by Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo, maintain this Aristotelian claim. Nonetheless, Catherine and Teresa found a channel to rise above these derogatory views: their mystical writings and life’s works are in themselves proof positive of the philosophical ability of woman.

About the Author

I'm a student at University of Notre Dame Australia in the second of a three year Bachelor of Philosophy degree.