Doctor Virtualis 15: Mystics and Knowledge

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Università degli Studi di Milano
contact email:

The most fundamental question from which this journal’s number arise is the following: is it possible to compare the specific attitude of a line of medieval mysticism thought with some aspects of contemporary thought? Which are important in particular?

A first element concerns the typical model of monastic reflection of the 12th century, in which the mystical perspective, with a strongly metaphorical language, drafts a cognitive itinerary in which the subject assimilates itself to the known object (dynamics that is illustrated with the analogy of the relationship between the lover and the loved).

In this perspective, in the context of monastic thought of the 12th century, seems relevant the School of Saint Victor and the Cistercian world, which present some aspects of originality with which get again the tradition starting from a new “humanistic” sensitivity and could be compared with other philosophical proposals of the period.

The tight ratio with the themes that are typically philosophical appears especially in the theories of knowledge closely connected to the Augustinian tradition and, more generally, to the Neo-Platonic tradition (Corpus Areopagiticum and Scotus Eriugena, for example).

 Among the others topics of medieval origin that are present in the reflections of contemporary age, one can observe a conception of the mysticism like an affective knowledge and of the metaphorical language like a fundamental method of expression.

The following are the issues, among others, to which one tries to find an answer.

 1) Which are the aspects of the Augustinian teaching that survive in a period in which it is deeply discussed by the diffusion of the new Aristotelian texts and by the centrality progressively attributed to the logic? One could think, for example, to a relevant author like John of Salisbury, which testifies the disagreement between Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter of Abelard.

 2) Which are the ideas that appear in this meaning from a historical-philosophical reflection like that of Mario Dal Pra, with a particular reference to Scotus Eriugena and John of Salisbury?

 3) Does the use of language in monastic thought, which allows examining in depth the role of metaphor, permits an opening to contemporary questions? One can think, for example, to some reflections that are recently developed also with reference to the modern and contemporary philosophy (Lakoff, Johnson, Hofstadter among others).

 4) Beginning from the great teaching of J. Leclerq about the love of learning as a decisive feature of monastic tradition, can one go further to deepen the place of mysticism both in the contemporary theological thought and in that, as it were, “secular”? In either cases, this could likely have a function of alternative to the Neo-Scholastic tradition, in which the great scholars of history of medieval philosophy of the 20th century recognise themselves.



  • Abstract submission (6-8000 chars): 15th September
  • Abstract acceptance: 30th September
  • Paper submission: 31st January