Cornelius Agrippa and Renaissance feminism at the BPH blog

H. C. Agrippa – occult, sceptical, and feminist philosopher of the Renaissance.

The BPH/Ritman Library’s blog has an article-length post up by my good friend and colleague Joyce Pijnenburg, on the Renaissance humanist and “occult philosopher” Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and his lesser known treatise on the nobility  of women. I remember being fascinated by this work when I first “discovered” Agrippa in my late teens – back then it was an eye-opener for me to find that the man who had been embraced by modern occultists as “their” intellectual patron, primarily for his Three books of occult philosophy (and the spuriously attributed Fourth book), had also produced works of sceptical philosophy (De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarum et artium), as well as a work that might classify as “Renaissance proto-feminism”. Agrippa is certainly more interesting than he’s often made into.

Joyce takes a closer look at this little-explored Renaissance feminist current, and transposes it  with certain contemporary issues discussed by Slavoj Žižek (whom, I must confess, I generally see as a stand-up comedian rather than a philosopher – some sharp observations, much hyperbole, and a lot of hilarity). The article  is entitled “Does woman exist? Agrippa von Nettesheim and Slavoy Žižek on Women and (their) Presence”. As an additional teaser before you go and read the whole thing, here’s the abstract: