Plato vs Aristotle's View of Women

1405 Words Oct 7th, 2005 6 Pages
Women: Counterparts or Subordinates Women are often overlooked in how they add to society. However, they are a crucial part in defining relationships, roles, and families, all which contribute their share to forming a society. In order to understand what distinct part they play, let us first look at Plato's views of women, in which equal chance between the sexes give women the potential to achieve, similar to men. Aristotle, whom we will next look at, believes the contrary, that women are subsidiary to men due to natural characteristics. Let us then look into how both Plato's and Aristotle's views of society are constructed by their apparent beliefs of women. For Plato, gender is such a minute detail that for the most part it can be …show more content…
Humans, therefore, naturally couple into heterosexual reproducing pairs. As a result, households are formed. The household is ruled by the male, who is justly the dominant member of the family because "women … lack authority (Bk I Ch 13, 12)." The household is comprised of the male head, female counterpart, children, as well as slaves. Slaves are considered part of the household because, "he is someone else's when despite being human, he is a piece of property; and a piece of property is a tool for action that is separate from its owner (1254a, 13)." So in Aristotle's city, it is close to impossible for a woman to make any kind of upward mobility or progress, due to an inborn flaw which lacks the spirited part of the soul. Men therefore dominate not only the family, or household, but also the society. Aristotle's city reflects the facts according to nature, that males are dominant.
I believe that Plato tries to dismantle society by taking a step back and looking at it, as a whole, so he doesn't miss any part or place too much emphasis on a particular part. Plato sees women oppressed by their gender as a social construct, a product of society. For this reason, in Plato's ideal city, women are given their fair chance. Plato's question, concerning into which society one would want to be raised, and similarly John Rowles' "original position" ask what basic truths one would want in his/her society. These questions expect an idealistic…