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The attitudes of ancient philosophers toward women

Institute of Philosophy and Theology of Society of Jesus
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  • Philosophy
  • Political Science


The ancient philosophers were not concerned with the question of women but they did express their attitudes and had problems with them. At that time, women were more involved in literature than philosophy. In such a historical context, disturbed relations between men and women were evident. In ancient Greece, men belittled "women's work" and concerned themselves with "higher" matters: politics, wars, commerce, philosophy etc. Attitudes toward women were illustrated through statements and asides by pre-Socratic philosophers. Regarding the attitudes of Socrates, Aristotle and Plato concerning women, the author notes that Aristotle's assertions on the subject had a marked influence upon Thomas Aquinas and his followers during the scholastic period of philosophy. Essentially, man is considered a more perfect image of God than is woman. Through a review of opinions held by certain contemporary philosophers, the author arrives at some answers. Peter Wust discusses the differences between anima and animus. Edith Stein considers women to be created for a special purpose. Tatjana Goričeva cautions against an unrealistic understanding of women. Jorg Splett states that a human should be understood as a person while the body is only the means of one's presence in terrestrial reality. Thus, men and women are merely two forms for the existence of the same entity.

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