The Platonic and Aristotelian Views on the Role and Status of Women in Society

The Platonic and Aristotelian Views on the Role and Status of Women in Society

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Women’s rights and societal roles have varied throughout history. Yet, a common theme that is notable across many times and cultures is the notion that women are inferior to men. In ancient Greece, the opinion toward women followed this trend, and women were often overlooked in how they could contribute to society. It was rarely considered that the traits women share could be of use beyond their household duties. In this essay I will analyze the Platonic and Aristotelian views on the role and status of women. Although Plato and Aristotle had distinct beliefs on what women could contribute to the collective well being of society, they shared similar opinions about the genuine status that women had in comparison to men. The Platonic view advanced the idea that secluding women to the home was counter-productive to the community as a whole. As such, women should be afforded roles that stretched beyond the boundaries of the home for the benefit of the community. The Aristotelian view, contrastingly, believed that the natural characteristics of women, which deemed them physically and intellectually inferior to men, made the home their proper place within society. In this essay I will advance the view that through the logic constructed by both Plato and Aristotle it follows deductively that women not only have a place outside of the home but their distinctive nature can add something of value to many areas of society.

A Platonic View Toward Women: A Community of Women and Children
It is sometimes contended that Plato was a feminist, but his concern for women did not stem from an interest in women’s rights, but rather the usefulness women could contribute to the benefit of the community. Meaning, society would receive...

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...oes not follow logically that women are intellectually inferior. The nature of women that emanates from their traditional role as mothers and caregivers can in fact not only be sufficient but necessary for the optimal functioning polis. The compassion and consideration that emanates from the nature of women could be the true keystone in wholesome state, and the highest form of collective well being that Plato and Aristotle searched for.

Works Cited

Aristotle. The Politics. Trans. T.A. Sinclair. Rev. ed. Trevor J. Saunders. New York:
Penguin classics, 1957. Print.

Bloom, Allan (1968, revised 1991). The Republic of Plato. Translated, with notes and an
interpretive essay. New York: Basic Books.

Magnusson, Warren. “Ancient and Medieval Political Thought.” Political Science 300A.
University of Victoria. British Columbia, 4 Jan. 2012 – 21 Mar. 2012.

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