References

The Classics Pages
Includes a guided tour of Plato's Republic. I highly recommend this resource.

Historical Women of Philosophy
Women Philosophers from 600 BCE to 17th century CE.

Plato
Excellent essay by Richard Kraut from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Philosophy Talk: Plato
Listen to this excellent radio program and take notes. The segment is about one hour. The free Real Player is required for streaming audio.

Plato and Platonism
A concise introductory essay from the Catholic Encyclopedia

The Philosophy of Plato
An well-organized overview from the Radical Academy

The Republic, Book I
One of Plato's greatest and most influential works. This is a marked-up version of the Jowett translation.

The Republic: Study Questions
To think about and look for when reading Book I.

The Apology
The mind altering depiction of the trial of Socrates. really, this work changed the world and if you read it well it will change you too.

Works by Plato
25 of his dialogues and letters from the 1871 translation by Benjamin Jowett

Plato's Allegory Of The Cave: A Springboard For The Matrix
A clever interpretation of Plato's allegory in relation to a philosophical movie The Matrix

Noble lies and perpetual war
Danny Postel and
Shadia Drury discusses Plato and other political philosophers in the service of contemporary theory and practice. This piece is particularly useful as an instance of how ancient philosophy remains relevant. Whether Drury's critique of Leo Strauss and current politics is accurate is open to discussion.


 

Plato: Women in the Ideal State - Part VI
The Application

The Context >>The Problem >> The Distinction >> The Analogy >> The Principle >> The Application >> The Conclusion

From his argument and examples in Book V of The Republic, Plato has establish a principle of relevant differences;

"the opposition of natures should extend...only to those differences which affected the pursuit in which the individual is engaged." (Rep. 454c).

He then sets to the task of applying that principle to the question of whether women should follow the same pursuits (careers, activities, responsibilities) as men.

"And if the male and female sex appear to differ in their fitness for any art or pursuit, we should say that such pursuit or art ought to be assigned to one or the other of them; but if the difference consists only in women bearing and men begetting children, this does not amount to a proof that a woman differs from a man in respect of the sort of education she should receive; and we shall therefore continue to maintain that our guardians and their wives ought to have the same pursuits." (Rep. 454d-e).

Look back to the example that Plato uses as an analogy and you will see that the relevance of baldness/hairiness to cobbling is like the relevance of bearing/begetting to education. Neither of these oppositions of difference has any essential affect upon the pursuit in question. Both oppositions must be ruled as mere appearances by Plato's principle.

Unless someone can demonstrate an essential opposition of differences between men and women that is relevant to higher pursuits, then it follows that the relevant capabilities for all forms of education, all careers, and all levels of social responsibility are as potentially present in woman as they are in men. From this point Plato concludes that women should be able to serve in all functions of society, including the defense of the State and top political leadership.

Plato's reasoning is sound. Especially so since the possible grounds for refuting his conclusions are made clear (great thinkers always provide readers with the means to test and refute them). Still, most of Western history has rejected Plato's conclusions without honestly refuting his arguments. For me, this stands as stark testament to the grip that appearance has on our cultures throughout most of history. Plato's radical message remains powerful to the present: unless we reform our personal lives and our societal structures, we shall persist in a state of ignorance and injustice.

And yet, what of the naked women in the gymnasia?

The Context >>The Problem >> The Distinction >> The Analogy >> The Principle >> The Application >> The Conclusion

 

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