Feminism and Ancient Greek Philosophy

Authored by: Adriana Cavarero , Robert Bucci

The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138795921
eBook ISBN: 9781315758152
Adobe ISBN:


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Describing the birth of the universe, Plato stated in the Timaeus (Plato 1997: 1245, 42b) that, as human nature was of two kinds, the superior race would hereafter be called man and the inferior race woman. More precisely, according to him, woman was created when the prototype of man, having lived an unrighteous life, passed into another, lesser life and returned as a woman. After having defined man as zoon logon echon—a rational animal—Aristotle affirmed in the Politics (Aristotle 1988: 19, 1260a) that, while the slave is wholly lacking the deliberative element of logos, the female has it but that it lacks authority: that is, women lack rationality. These are two significant examples of the various sexist and misogynistic aspects that characterize ancient philosophy and expose it as an expression of a patriarchal society in which the human being, broadly understood, is modeled on the male sex only. Consequently the female sex is characterized as a kind of being that is not fully human and that is deficient, inferior, and for this reason subordinate.

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