Aristotle's views on women
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Aristotle's views on women influenced later Western thinkers, who quoted him as an authority until the end of the Middle Ages, and are thus an important topic in women's history. He saw women subject to men, but higher than slaves. In Chapter 12 of his Politics he writes “The slave is wholly lacking the deliberative element; the female has it but it lacks authority; the child has it but it is incomplete”  (1260a11)
Differences between male and female
Aristotle believed that nature ordained not only physical differences between male and female but mental differences as well. His followers may even take many items in his list of sex-specific "mental characteristics" as fine examples of his observational powers. By comparison to man, he argued, woman is "more mischievous, less simple, more impulsive ... more compassionate[,] ... more easily moved to tears[,] ... more jealous, more querulous, more apt to scold and to strike[,] ... more prone to despondency and less hopeful[,] ... more void of shame or self-respect, more false of speech, more deceptive, of more retentive memory [and] ... also more wakeful; more shrinking [and] more difficult to rouse to action" (History of Animals, 608b. 1-14). Moreover, in accord with his society's custom of allowing girls and women to eat only half as much as boys and men, he added that woman "requires a smaller quantity of nutriment" (History of Animals, 608b. 14)  Aristotle wrote extensively on his views of the nature of semen but seemed to struggle with the concept of what a woman actually was and how her body functioned. His views on how a child's sex is decided have since been abandoned.
He wrote that only fair skinned women, not darker skinned women, had a sexual discharge and climaxed. He also believed this discharge could be increased by eating of pungent foods. Aristotle thought a woman's sexual discharge was akin to that of an infertile or amputated male's. He concluded that both sexes contributed to the material of generation, but that the female's contribution was in her discharge (as in a male's) rather than within the ovary.
His idea of procreation was an active, ensouling masculine element bringing life to a passive female element.
While Aristotle reduced women's roles in society, and promoted the idea that women should receive less food and nourishment than males, he also criticised the results: a woman, he thought, was then more compassionate, more opinionated, more apt to scold and to strike. He stated that women are more prone to despondency, more void of shame or self-respect, more false of speech, more deceptive, and of having a better memory.
Modes of Rule
Aristotle supported the laws that meant a woman's personal wealth automatically became her husband's. According to Aristotle, there were different "ways" or modes (tropoi) of rule, including despotic, royal, and political rule. "Political rule" is of those who are free and equal, who tend in their nature to be on equal terms and to differ in nothing. And Aristotle thought that a husband and wife should live under political rule, the rule suitable to those who are free and equal. Aristotle nevertheless thought that women should not leave the female quarters of the house, and by his death the health of women in Athens had deteriorated, and they were living on average 10 years less than males with elevated rates of death through child-birth.
As for the differences between husband and wife, Aristotle says that these "always" consisted in external appearances, in speeches, and in honors. Aristotle advocated that, should a husband lose money and his reputation, a wife was to refrain from complaint and to attribute this to sickness, ignorance or accidental errors. He thought that, sometimes but not always, males were leaders, or, both the male and the female have the deliberative capacity of the soul, but he thought that in the female it lacked authority.
On a Good Wife, from Oikonomikos, c. 330 BCE
Therefore it befits not a man of sound mind to bestow his person promiscuously, or have random intercourse with women; for otherwise the base-born will share in the rights of his lawful children, and his wife will be robbed of her honor due, and shame be attached to his sons.And it is fitting that he should approach his wife in honor, full of self-restraint and awe; and in his conversation with her, should use only the words of a right-minded man, suggesting only such acts as are themselves lawful and honorable. Aristotle's thought that a wife was best honored when she saw that her husband was faithful to her, and that he had no preference for another woman; but before all others loves, trusts her and holds her as his own. Aristotle wrote that a husband should secure the agreement, loyalty, and devotion of his wife, so that whether he himself is present or not, there may be no difference in her attitude towards him, since she realizes that they are alike guardians of the common interests; and so when he is away she may feel that to her no man is kinder or more virtuous or more truly hers than her own husband.
Aristotle wrote that in Sparta, the legislator wanted to make the whole city (or country) hardy and temperate, and that he carried out his intention in the case of the men, but he overlooked the women, who lived in every sort of intemperance and wealth. He added that in those regimes in which the condition of the women was bad, half the city could be regarded as having no laws.
Equal weight to female and male happiness
Aristotle gave equal weight to women's happiness as he did to men's, and commented in his Rhetoric that a society cannot be happy unless women are happy too.
On children, he said, "And what could be more divine than this, or more desired by a man of sound mind, than to beget by a noble and honored wife children who shall be the most loyal supporters and discreet guardians of their parents in old age, and the preservers of the whole house? Rightly reared by father and mother, children will grow up virtuous, as those who have treated them piously and righteously deserve that they should."
- "Aristotle: Politics [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]". Iep.utm.edu. 2005-07-27. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
- Contributed by: BARBARA A. PARSONS. "Aristotle On Women". Gem.greenwood.com. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
- Generation of Animals, II, 728a
- Generation of Animals, I, 728a
- Generation of Animals, VI, 728a
- Aristotle on woman
- History of Animals, book IX, part 1
- Politics, 1252a7f., 1254b2-6, 1255b16-20
- Politics, 1255b20, 1259b4-6; see also Book III, 1277b7-9
- Politics, I, 1259a39-b1
- Politics, 1259b6-10
- The Politics and Economics of Aristotle, Edward English Walford and John Gillies, trans., (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1908)
- The Politics of Aristotle, Book 2 Ch. 9, trans. Benjamin Jowett, London: Colonial Press, 1900
- Tuana, Nancy (1993). The Less Noble Sex: Scientific, Religious and Philosophical Conceptions of Women's Nature. Indiana University Press. pp. 21, 169. ISBN 0-253-36098-6.
- Church Fathers, Independent Virgins, Joyce E. Salisbury, 1992