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Aristotle’s Views on Women, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1347

Essay

The argument I have chosen for critical discussion is Aristotle’s views on women. Aristotle claimed that women are incomplete if comparing to men. He stated that they are subordinates, deformed or unfinished men, being inferior to males in the terms of physical power and mental abilities. Philosopher’s main arguments supporting his views on women were that, first of all, females do not produce semen that is actually considered to contain a human being in it. He stated that women are passive during the reproduction process, while men are active and dominatingly productive. Thus women do only have value of an instrument, carrying the children and keeping the house, while the men form children’s future personality and nature, providing his/her soul and qualities to inherit.

Given this background, the target of this essay is to demonstrate that Aristotle’s theory is not worth considering as a scientific position. I personally have a strong position of denying Aristotle’s arguments as those worth considering as scientific statements. I believe Aristotle was completely wrong and his ideas suffer from an obvious lack of sufficient proofs. I do not believe that in the nature of things females are considered to be a dominated, minor sex. Moreover I maintain that women have an extremely important role in the processes of conception, child-bearing and child birth.

First Supporting Argument: I state that while Aristotle was truly concerned about the nature of things and was obviously thinking hard over the roles of human beings in the world of ours, the philosopher did poorly in providing specific evidences and testing his theories in practice.  Aristotle was concerned about existence in its most fundamental condition. He did not apply his logic to lifelike situations, using pointless objects and metaphors when explaining the laws of genetic heredity on the examples of the chickens or the horses that had no direct application to a society made up of intelligent human beings (O’Flaherty). He used a narrow sight when making up his theories, regarding only a small part of society – his closest surroundings consisting of scientists and philosophers who where evidently represented by men at those times. His professional and political environment did not include women, which made it easier to speculate on the subject.  Surely, the philosopher did knew women, and had even been married to two, but had he ever faced a women at least close to being equal to a man? I guess not, and consequently, his ignorant approval of the patriarchal society of his time predisposed him to promote the biological theories about women that he did. What Aristotle failed to understand when interpreting his theory of females as deformed males was that outside of his philosophical world of men existed a much more far-reaching network of people comprised of individuals of various social classes, material security, levels of education and well-being, including a great number of women and children. Even recognizing the existence of the mentioned network of people, he seemed to lack understanding of the processes he wasn’t truly familiar with, meaning the complex and extremely crucial role of women so obvious in the ordinary families composed of narrow-minded people who were not thoughtful about the essence of things, but just accepted them as the only possible reality.

Second Supporting Argument: I claim that if being analyzed from a different perspective, Aristotle’s  theory of woman being a ‘soil’ and man being a ‘sewer’ can be interpreted in favor of woman. In fact it is actually at variance with his idea of assigning a greater importance to male’s role in the reproduction process than to that of female. If compared, the roles of sower and soil do truly differ according to their rate of significance, yet role of soil being more important than that of a sower. While sower does no more than plants the seed and waters it occasionally, soil provide the seed with sufficient nutrients and elements of life, giving it possibility to grow and develop into a healthy plant. The seed takes its roots within the soil. Seed and soil are strongly connected, seed’s existence being dependant on constant interaction with soil. Obviously, there’s just no comparison between the importance of sower and soil in seed-growing process, which wrecks Aristotle’s major support for own theory.

First Objection: One might argue that no matter what Aristotle failed to consider, his theories operated finely for centuries to come. For hundreds of years women has been indeed dominated by men, occupying minor positions in the society, their role being constantly discriminated, though in different ways.  Aristotle’s theories seem to work, since women failed to prove their equality to men for many years that have had certain impact on the state of affairs. Aristotle might be right as women’s significance and intelligence equal to those of men appeared to be something truly difficult to demonstrate. Development of the support for establishing female role in society to be the same substantial as the one of a man took a lot of time, which is probably due to women’s defectiveness, not inflexibility of social order.

Second Objection: If considering male and female reproduction roles not comparing them to “sower” and “soil”, man’s role is more important indeed in the initial stage. Male’s semen is active and is truly the one to produce life; it is an irreplaceable source of all living. The role of a man as of a sexual partner is more active than the one of a woman.

First Refutation: Social order does not define the true essence of things. I believe that mentioned phenomenon can be attributed not to the nature of things, but to the system of patriarchy that for many years had a strong hold on society. No matter what society prefers to accept as true, it is not woman biology, but this system that has permitted men to domineer. Because women accepted the norms of men being superior and dominant as true, they allowed themselves to become a minor sex, not resisting men’s pressure and strive for superiority. Only when women found courage to fight against unreasonable inequality and unjust treatment did they stepped out of the closed circuit of male domineering and set themselves free. Basing own arguments on the community laws accepted by patriarch society does not prove to be convenient and scientifically weighty.

Second Refutation: Strong connection between a mother and a child is undeniable. Man’s biological role in the reproduction process ends before the actual process starts, while women goes through each stage of child’s evolution into life, providing child’s future health and normal development. For nine months women’s body serves as a child shelter and source of life. Mother’s and her child’s organisms becomes one and co-operate for months. Stating that role of women in reproduction is less important that the one of mane is an absolute nonsense

In the present paper I have discussed an issue of Aristotle’s views on women. I refused to agree with Aristotle’s belief of men’s superiority over women. I have stated that, firstly, Aristotle’s sight is too narrow; he doesn’t apply his ideas to practical situations, building judgments on observation of man-dominated philosophical surroundings he belongs to. Secondly, I argued that if looking at his theories from a slightly different angle, they might appear to be not supportive, but contradictory to his own ideas. I have listed two possible objections to my arguments, first of which is that society has indeed proved to be men-dominated for ages, and second of which is that men’s crucial role in reproduction is undeniable. I consequently refute these claims stating that, first of all, women’s oppression is due to patriarchal system, not to their biological defectiveness, and secondly, that doubting women’s great importance in all stages of child reproduction process is absurd and demeaning.

Works Cited

“Aristotle: On a Good Wife, from Oikonomikos, c. 330 BCE”.  Ancient History Sourcebook. 3 Apr. 2009. <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/greek-wives.html>.

“Greek Philosophy on the Inferiority of Women”. Women Priests Internet Library. 3 Apr. 2009.<http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/infe_gre.asp>.

Matthews, Gareth B. “Gender and Essence in Aristotle.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy.Supplement to Vol. 64. June 1986.  3 Apr. 2009.

O’Flaherty, Sean. “Aristotle: The First Scientist. 2001. 3 Apr. 2009. <http://www.philosophy.sean.tripod.com>.

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