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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Essay on Aristotle - His View on Women and their Role in the Society

Aristotle is known as one of the greatest philosophical thinkers of all time.  Along with Plato, his philosophy influenced may other philosophers including Saint Thomas Aquinas who is said to have “Christianized” his philosophy.  He is known as a brilliant philosopher, great political thinker, mathematician and even a scientist.

However, if he will be born today he may get the ire of many feminists because of Aristotle's views on women.  He once described women as subordinate, deformed male, and unfinished man.  He thought that women are born because of something that went wrong during the conception stage – the parents were either too young or too old or one or both of the parents were unhealthy.  Thus, he thought that women “are a deformity, but one which occurs in the ordinary course of nature.”

In addition, Aristotle's view on women noted the physiological characteristics of women are substantially different from male.  Nature has distinguished between men and women.  He described women as physiologically colder than men.  Because men are warm-blooded, he thought that men have a higher form of life compared to women.  He also thought that women are infertile men.  Aristotle considered it a deficiency for women to have lacked the ability to produce semen.  Aristotle also thought that the role of the women in child birth is limited to holding and taking care of the unborn child while the baby inherits the qualities of the men.

It should be stressed that this was only one of the views were Plato’s philosophy clashed with Aristotle’s philosophy.  Plato believed that notwithstanding the superficial differences men and women are essentially equal.  Thus, he proposed that all political offices should also be opened to women.  Because they both have the capacity to Reason, he thought that a woman can also lead a nation.

Because of the extent of his influence which lasted until after the Middle Ages, it is therefore not surprising that Western thought and tradition had adopted similar views toward women which was very unfortunate for all women.  St. Thomas Aquinas adopted the same view and thought that the role of women in procreation is very limited and it was the male who was responsible for his personality and character.

Perhaps, Aristotle's view on women was responsible why many women were denied certain rights and privileges throughout history.  In fact, before the 1960s many women were denied the right to vote.  For so many decades, only men were given the privilege to vote and this remained unquestioned until the feminists began to talk about it and speak against it.

While many have changed after the 1960s, many still harbor the same view as Aristotle towards women.  Many still think that it is unacceptable for a woman to run for public office and lead the country.  For many decades, women had to accept the role of being confined to the role of housekeepers and whose recognized skills were limited to maintaining the house.  For centuries, these beliefs were universally accepted in many nations and societies.  In fact, until now, many women still suffer from biases and prejudices.

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