Debate:Did Joan of Arc truly hear voices?

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Yes, I believe so as given:

  • She didn't have any holes in her personality so schizophrenia isn't very likely.
  • She was very practical (which was something missing from the nobility and The Church at this time period) and never had any flaws in her accounts they all fit perfectly into another, so I don't believe she was lying.
  • She didn't have one hallucination after another once, sometimes three times, a day which would be very unlikely. That would still not explain how these voices simply stopped after she denied to have them.

The only logical conclusion is that she did hear voices from The Archangel Michael delivering God's message.

--Working for Him 21:14, 17 February 2007 (EST)

or maybe she was lying, or, just as easily, engaging in hyberbole in an effort to inspire the soldiers--Criminology 17:40, 12 October 2009 (EDT)

I'm not very educated on the subject of Joan of Arc; did she claim that the voices came from Michael? If not, I see no reason to assume they did. They might have come from a demon or something (just another point of view...). At any rate, it seems that she really did hear voices one way or another. --BenjaminS 01:11, 18 February 2007 (EST)

Very, very interesting posting. But why would the Archangel take sides in the war concerning Joan of Arc? And why would divine voices drive her to lose and be viciously murdered? Did Jesus ever hear voices in this manner?
I don't have a clear opinion about this but do have these questions. (Be sure to mark this page as "Watched" so you can be alerted when it changes.)--Aschlafly 21:48, 17 February 2007 (EST)


I don't understand the reasoning here as to why schizophrenia "isn't very likely." Dpbsmith 22:06, 17 February 2007 (EST)
I think only severely ill schizophrenics hear voices, and Joan of Arc seemed far too productive to be suffering from a debilitating disease. I'm not an expert on this issue, but find it fascinating.--Aschlafly 22:32, 17 February 2007 (EST)
John Nash was "really crazy." Specifically, he experienced auditory, visual, and command hallucinations. He won a Nobel Prize in economics. (Unfortunately the excellent movie, A Beautiful Mind, while screenwritten by a man with great knowledge of schizophrenia and a desire to tell the "inner truth" of Nash's life, wrote what was basically a work of fiction about a John-Nash-like character... and I read the equally excellent biography of the same name before the movie and the movie has already blotted out most of the specific details I read in the book...) Dpbsmith 13:39, 18 February 2007 (EST)
It isn't clear to me what we mean by "truly hear" - I presume that means hear voices which were the result of external entities- not that the auditory sections of brains of schizophrenics do in fact light up under fMRI when they are hearing voices. Expanding on Dpb's comment- another relevant example would be Srinivasa Ramanujan an Indian mathematician who claimed that many of his results came from dreams in which he was visited by various hindu deities. I would point out that if one compares Joan of Arc to Ramanujan, there is far more evidence supporting Ramanujan's claims than Joan of Arc's; Ramanujan's results were generally correct (I'm not going to go into specifics because the details are quite complicated, but as far as I am aware, everytime Ramanujan specifcally credited a result to some form of divine revelation, it turned out to be correct). So we have one person making essentially testable claims and the other one not doing so. Now, I don't think anyone here wants to conclude that Ramanujan was getting actual revelations, a fortiori, neither was Joan of Arc. JoshuaZ 14:38, 18 February 2007 (EST)

I don't think we have any way to tell. There are 3 options,

  1. She was crazy. This is hard to figure out at this point.
  2. She was Lying. Impossible to tell
  3. She did hear voices. Also Impossible to tell.

--TimSvendsen 23:42, 17 February 2007 (EST)

Option #1 seems implausible to me. Really crazy people don't do great things like winning battles. Option #2 is a clever suggestion. I don't know how to rule it out, although I don't see why someone would lie. Non-believers claim the Apostles lied about the Resurrection. But why would someone lie to be put to death, as Joan of Arc and the Apostles were?--Aschlafly 23:55, 17 February 2007 (EST)

Option #1 is implausible simply because a crazy person would probably not have been capable of what she accomplished-- craziness is usually not an asset!

Option #2 is implausible for the reason stated by Aschlafly above-- she wouldn't have lied to get herself killed.

OPtion #3 seems to be the most logical.

This is just a variant of the classic trilemma about Jesus (Lord, Liar or Lunatic). Now, it isn't as fallacious as in the Jesus case (there are probably 3 or 4 problems in the Jesus case that don't apply here(very OT, so I'm not going to go into that)) and it isn't as much attempting to take advantage of cultueral reverance as the classic trilemma. However, it is still just as weak- both Dpb and I have given examples of essentially crazy people who were able to do that sort of thing and as I pointed out, if anything, the evidence supporting Ramanujan is far stronger than that for Joan of Arc. Now, I don't think anyone here is going to run off and become Hindu... (incidentally, #2 isn't as implausible as it seems, people often get caught up in their lies, and may very well believe in a cause enough to lie for it and then die for it). JoshuaZ 23:47, 18 February 2007 (EST)
O goodness... I'm trying to remember... wasn't there was a terrible case, one of the famous Victorian "fasting girls" that claimed not to require any nourishment... they lived off the air, or something. Many of them were exposed as cheating in some way. But there was, I think, one of them that agreed to be put under conditions where cheating was difficult (no visits from family members or something like that) and starved to death rather than admit to a lie.
Click click: yes, [1]. Search on "Sarah Jacob" in that article. Or google on Sarah Jacob Welsh fasting girl. Dpbsmith 05:54, 19 February 2007 (EST)

There is a great book about Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. I beleive she did actually hear voices. If she was lying, would she go to the point of death because she was lying? Then that would be saying she was lying AND she was crazy. There were many investigations made by the Vatican and the Pope of the time (I cant remeber his name) and found that what she spoke was true, therefore canonizing her and proclaimed a Saint and patron of France. Now you should read more on this if you are intrested. Joan of Arc by Mark Twain --Will N. 13:33, 18 February 2007 (EST)

  • When the Church canonized her, did they make any judgement on the reality of her voices? I.e. does the Catholic Church take a position on this point? Not a rhetorical question, I haven't studied it and have no idea. (Most of what I "know" about Joan of Arc is from Shaw's play, not exactly a reliable source...) Dpbsmith 15:23, 18 February 2007 (EST)
I don't know the answer to Dpbsmith's question, but it seems to me that canonization would implicitly require a determination that the person was not lying, and not crazy. That said, I thought the Catholic Church should have considered canonizing Terri Schiavo, but I found resistance by some to the suggestion of canonizing someone in her state. I don't see any reason not to.--Aschlafly 16:04, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Um, what? Schiavo wouldn't meet the basic standards for canonization. Among other problems, there is the serious theological issue that she didn't do anything but was essentially passive in the entire matter. (And incidentally, it is hard to argue that under current Catholic theology continuing to feed her was at all required or even good). Finally, canonization requires the reporting of miracles related to the individual in question. No miracles related to Schiavo have occurred. JoshuaZ 19:02, 18 February 2007 (EST)

The Catholic Church believes that she did hear voices. I have read many books and she is one of my favorite saints. Most know her because she fought the British in the Hundred Years War and her burning at the stake for heresy and witchcraft; condemn to death by Pierre Cauchon Bishop of Beauvais. He was a very bad bishop as most know and was actually forgiven by Joan and her mother. But i do believe that she did hear voices. --Will N. 18:16, 18 February 2007 (EST)

"She didn't have any holes in her personality so schizophrenia isn't very likely." This is the first time I've seen somebody cite not being schizophrenic as proof someone heard voices in their head. Barikada 23:48, 4 March 2008 (EST)

George Bernard Shaw's take

For what it's worth:

Joan's voices and visions have played many tricks with her reputation. They have been held to prove that she was mad, that she was a liar and impostor, that she was a sorceress (she was burned for this), and finally that she was a saint. They do not prove any of these things; but the variety of the conclusions reached shew how little our matter-of-fact historians know about other people's minds, or even about their own. ... the seers of visions and the hearers of revelations are not always criminals. The inspirations and intuitions and unconsciously reasoned conclusions of genius sometimes assume similar illusions. Socrates, Luther, Swedenborg, Blake saw visions and heard voices just as Saint Francis and Saint Joan did. If Newton's imagination had been of the same vividly dramatic kind he might have seen the ghost of Pythagoras walk into the orchard and explain why the apples were falling. Such an illusion would have invalidated neither the theory of gravitation nor Newton's general sanity. What is more, the visionary method of making the discovery would not be a whit more miraculous than the normal method. The test of sanity is not the normality of the method but the reasonableness of the discovery. If Newton had been informed by Pythagoras that the moon was made of green cheese, then Newton would have been locked up. Gravitation, being a reasoned hypothesis which fitted remarkably well into the Copernican version of the observed physical facts of the universe, established Newton's reputation for extraordinary intelligence, and would have done so no matter how fantastically he had arrived at it.
In the same way Joan must be judged a sane woman in spite of her voices because they never gave her any advice that might not have come to her from her mother wit exactly as gravitation came to Newton....

Dpbsmith 19:17, 18 February 2007 (EST)

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