Minorities and Philosophy


15 December 2022
15:00 - 17:00
MS Teams and Ravensteynzaal (Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, Utrecht University)

Book presentation: “Ancient Women Philosophers: Recovered Ideas and New Perspectives” by Caterina Pellò and Katharine O’Reilly

UU’s History of Philosophy Colloquium, together with MAP, invites you to the book presentation Ancient Women Philosophers: Key Findings and Methodological Considerations by Caterina Pellò (Nottingham) and Katharine O’Reilly (Toronto) that will be published by Cambridge University Press.

History of Philosophy Colloquium

Caterina Pellò
(Nottingham University)

“Ancient Women Philosophers: Key Findings and Methodological Considerations”



Despite the common misconception that ancient philosophy was the domain of male thinkers, ancient sources suggest that women engaged in philosophical activity. However, almost no direct evidence and no writings by these thinkers have survived. Our book Ancient Women Philosophers: Recovered Ideas and New Perspectives aims to retrieve the thought of ancient women philosophers and carve out a place for them in the canon. It includes chapters on a vast array of philosophers, stretching from eighth-century Indian philosophers to the Cyrenaic philosopher Arete, and from the Neoplatonist scientist Hypatia to the Chinese writer Ban Zhao. In this talk, we plan to discuss source issues and survey the methodological strategies we can use to approach the available evidence. We shall consider questions such as: What limiting factors prevent us from learning more about these women’s ideas? How can we engage with the available sources philosophically? Can fictional characters teach us anything about real women philosophers? And what can we learn from biographical and literary accounts? To what extent does it matter that these thinkers are women? Is there a different female voice in ancient philosophy? And who counts as a philosopher in antiquity? We argue that the study of ancient women philosophers has a special value for our understanding of the history of philosophy. While at first daunting, this unique set of thinkers and the available evidence both enrich our insight into the methodology of the history of philosophy and re-introduce philosophical contributions which would otherwise be lost.

About the speaker:
Caterina Pellò is a Teaching Associate in Philosophy at Nottingham University. She specialises in the history of philosophy, especially ancient Greek philosophy. Her research focuses on two areas: the study of ancient women philosophers and the ancient Greek philosophical and medical theories of life. She is currently writing a book on the Pythagorean women in the series Cambridge Elements: Women in the History of Philosophy and co-editing a volume titled Ancient Women Philosophers: Recovered Ideas and New Perspectives for CUP.


This is a hybrid event. To attend online, please register here.

Due to the limited capacity of the room, to attend in person please send an email to c.cecconi@uu.nl by the 14th of December.


If you have questions about this event, please contact Chiara (c.cecconi@uu.nl).