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Ways of Knowing
Record Type: Review   ID: 726

Hadewijch and Her Sisters: Other Ways of Loving and Knowing

Milhaven, John Giles

 This is a book on feminist epistemology unlike many others in that it links ways of knowing with ways of loving, as expressed in the writings of four 13th century women and 11 contemporary religiously-oriented women. He compares the two, and concludes that the values they have in common are not religious. They are common human experience: "All the women drew on their human experience to answer a basic, human question: what kind of loving and knowing is supremely worthwhile in itself, a primary, irreplaceable component of human living?" (p. ix). They all honor "mutual and embodied" ways of knowing and loving, ways they find to be "uniquely precious and essential to human life" (p. x), even though these ways have been belittled by their cultures, medieval and modern. Millhaven feels, however, that today's feminists, though they use the terms "mutual" and "embodied" do not go as far as they might in explicating the foundation of the experience. He draws heavily on the writings of the medieval women for evidence of the foundation, admitting his sample is very small, yet insisting that the evidence he found "yields promising hypotheses for broader testing." He contrasts the forms of knowing and loving of the women thinkers with the "thoroughly self-sufficient and disembodied ideal knowing and loving" of influential male Christian theorists. Contemporary feminists are acutely aware, unlike their medieval counterparts, "that to espouse embodied mutuality as a supreme human goal is to take a different road from that of traditional Western thought" (p. xii).
Publisher Information:Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993. 171p. Bibl: 159-168; Chap. notes: 147-157; Index: 169-171
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