Online Talk on Ancient Women Philosophers, 2 December

Philiminality Oxford is delighted to announce a talk (online) on “Ancient Women Philosophers: Key Findings and Methodological Considerations” by Katharine O’Reilly and Caterina Pellò. In this talk (full abstract below), they will discuss their exciting forthcoming book, Ancient Women Philosophers: Recovered Ideas and New Perspectives.

The talk is jointly organized by Philiminality Oxford and the Oxford Philosophy Faculty’s Women’s Student Representative, Lara Scheibli.


The talk will take place on Zoom on Thursday 2 December, from 12 noon to 1.30pm GMT. (Registration required – see below.)


Despite the common misconception that ancient philosophy was the domain of male thinkers, ancient sources suggest that women engaged in philosophical activity. However, with the sole – and highly debated – exception of the Pythagorean women, no direct evidence and no writings by these thinkers have survived. We are left with a list of names and records of their lives in the works of male authors. Our book Ancient Women Philosophers: Recovered Ideas and New Perspectives aims to retrieve the thought of ancient women philosophers and carve out a place for them in the canon. The book includes chapters on a vast array of philosophers, stretching from eighth century Indian philosophers to the Cyrenaic philosopher Arete, and from the Neoplatonist scientist Hypatia to the Chinese writer Ban Zhao.

In this talk, we plan to discuss source issues and survey the methodological strategies we can use to approach the evidence. We shall consider questions such as: What limiting factors prevent us from learning more about these women’s ideas? How can we engage with the available sources philosophically? Can fictional characters teach us anything about real women philosophers? And what can we learn from biographical and literary accounts? To what extent does it matter that these thinkers are women? Is there a different female voice in ancient philosophy? And ultimately, what counts as philosophy in antiquity?

About the speakers:

Katharine O’Reilly studied ancient philosophy at the University of Toronto, King’s College London, and Oxford (D.Phil, 2019). She is currently an Assistant Professor at X University (formerly Ryerson) in Toronto. Her primary research areas are ancient moral psychology, Hellenistic ethics, and methodological issues in the study of ancient women philosophers.

Caterina Pellò studied ancient philosophy in Durham and Cambridge, where she wrote a thesis on women in early Pythagoreanism. She is currently an Associate Lecturer at University College London and a Fellow of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies. Her primary research areas are Presocratic philosophy, ancient Greek biology, and the study of women in the history of philosophy.


To register and receive Zoom details, please complete this form:

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at philiminality.ox[at] or to contact Lara (lara.scheibli[at] 

The Organizers

Lea Cantor & Alesia Preite (Philiminality Oxford)

Lara Scheibli (Graduate Women’s Rep)

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