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Res Philosophica

Volume 99, Issue 2, April 2022

Amber J. Griffioen
Pages 241-274

Doing Public Philosophy in the Middle Ages?
On the Philosophical Potential of Medieval Devotional Texts

Medieval and early modern devotional works rarely receive serious treatment from philosophers, even those working in the subfields of philosophy of religion or the history of ideas. In this article, I examine one medieval devotional work in particular—the Middle High German image- and verse-program, Christus und die minnende Seele (CMS)—and I argue that it can plausibly be viewed as a form of medieval public philosophy, one that both exhibited and encouraged philosophical innovation. I address a few objections to my proposal—namely, that CMS is neither public enough nor that it counts as proper philosophy—and I attempt to defend CMS’s public philosophical credentials in light of these objections. I conclude with a brief discussion of how devotional texts like CMS can help us do innovative public philosophy today.