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    Fabianinkatu 24 (P.O. Box 4)
    00014 University of Helsinki

    Tel. +358 2 941 21735



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Ritva Palmén

Andersson A photoPhD (Theology, Philosophy of Religion), University of Helsinki

Room 332

Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
P.O. Box 4
FIN-00014 University of Helsinki

Tel +358-(0)2941 23054
Email  ritva.palmen (AT) helsinki.fi

Research interests

  • Philosophical psychology
  • Emotions
  • Medieval and renaissance studies
  • Systematic theology
  • Philosophy of religion


Current research

The Salutary Power of Negative Emotions in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Dr. Palmén’s research project explores the accounts of the so called negative emotions in medieval and renaissance sources. The goal of the study is to move beyond the simple positive-negative polarity and explore the complexity of pleasant and painful emotions in the history of philosophical psychology. She will argue that medieval and renaissance theories of emotions recognize also positive dimensions of certain negative emotions and indicate their possible beneficial effects on person’s behavior and cognition.  The study will focus to three different “negative” emotions, namely, fear, shame, and sorrow.

The research aims will be achieved by systematically investigating primary sources of medieval and renaissance writings (e.g., Thomas Aquinas, Dante Alighieri, Coluccio Salutati) and by exploring specific philosophical concepts and the implications of these from those texts. Although emotions have their undeniable biological and physiological bases, the research builds on the assumption that emotions are essentially connected to various historically and culturally grounded systems of shared meanings which may change according to different contexts. The resulting understanding of the cultural modelling of emotions and their changes will facilitate modern discussions of emotions by offering a more nuanced and historically informed view of the affective dimension of human reality.