The Torn Robe of Philosophy, From Mansplaining Lady Philosophy to Remembering her Wisdom

Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir

In contemporary philosophy it is commonly acknowledged that the body has been troublesome in the history of Western philosophy, with views ranging from contempt for embodiment and the sensuous to denial of the importance of the body for understanding the human being. Despite the advancing of the philosophy of the body in the 20th century allowing a richer understanding of the human being as embodied, the common view of the denial or contempt of the body in the history of philosophy remains. This becomes apparent in many contemporary interpretations of some classical and canonical texts of philosophy. In my reading of The Consolation of Philosophy, an early medieval text by Boethius, I will challenge this common view by discussing an example that can modify it. I will discuss how the body and the emotions are more present in this text than interpreters have grasped or admitted. Philosophical thinking is presented in this text as explicitly working with emotions and reflecting them. This happens in the dialogue between lady Philosophy and Boethius who has been sentenced to death. In my interpretation of the figure of Philosophy as a woman, I will argue how her figure represents traces of ancient notions of the noun sophia (wisdom) as embodied, sensual and practical knowledge and not only theoretical wisdom.