FEMINISTS CRITIQUE ON ARISTOTLE GENDER PERSPECTIVE
1.0 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Since time immemorial, people have held the view that men are superior to women. This vision of male supremacy is clearly reflected in all traditional families and societies to an extent that even women were made to accept that they are inferior nature.
Over centuries, men and women have so internalized this culture of male supremacy, that even when a woman is known to be in possession of the actual power, especially in a family where the woman has the economic power the man would still be expected to assert his authority proudly as the captain of the family ship and the Lord of the society. From the above background men by nature cling to authority and learn to lord it over women.
Meanwhile, the awareness of certain biological advantages like physical force convinces men that they are endowed with supremacy nature and the right to control women to their own advantage.
In early time, men used because of their intellectual capabilities to justify their supremacy. One of the most influential defence of men is to be found in Aristotle’s writings, where he argues for the justifiability of slavery and the domination of women. Using the analogy of the soul and body, Aristotle argued that men are born to rule women, just as the soul which is superior rules the body and reason rules passion, men should rule woman. For Aristotle, “the male is by nature superior; and the female inferior ; and the one rules and the other is ruled”
Aristotle was making his argument from the point of ancient biology, he felt free to universalize the inferiority of women. In another instance he went further saying that women represent a defaced human nature. The female he argued is “a mutilated male”
The topic “feminists critique on Aristotle’s gender perspective” is really apt within the global crusade for women liberation and empowerment. This crusade can be seen both in the civil societies and among individuals. The core question is should women be treated as persons with right, dignity and voice within the community? They should be acknowledged as citizens members of the civil society. In recent times, there has been an incessant cry on the plight of women in the society, due to this cry that some feminists took as a duty to fight for the unhealthy treatment of women which was traced right from Aristotle’s writings.
1.1 A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF ARISTOTLE
Aristotle was born in Stagirus in 384 B.C His father was a physician and it was no doubt from interest in biology. At the age of seventeen, Aristotle went to Athens to study and there he joined Plato’s academy and remained for over twenty years a pupil of Plato, studying under him in the academy. After Plato’s death, Aristotle left the academy and began to develop his own philosophy. He eventually founded his own institution, the lyceum, where he lectured and carried out a lot of scientific research. The members of this school frequently help academic discussions while walking up and down on ambulatory, and this earned them his name peripatetic, and the school became known as the peripatetic school. Aristotle’s main interest beside philosophy was in the empirical sciences, especially biology. Aristotle was invited to Macedon in 343 B.C by Philip, King of Macedon to educate his son Alexander who was then about thirteen years old. Aristotle thus became the tutor of the Alexander the Great.
Aristotle wrote books on a variety of subjects, logic, physics, metaphysics, ethics, politics, psychology, biology, Aesthetics and Rhetoric. His works on logic are collectively known as Organon, those on physics include De Caelo and De Generatione et corruptione. His works on psychology include the De Anima and biological works include his History of Animals his famous work metaphysics is a collection 0f lectures that were considered difficult to understand. His works on Ethics include the famous Nichomachean Ethics and Magna Moralia. His politics was based on a study of 158 different constitutions including the constitution of Athens.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Some men up till recent times have not found the situation of women’s predicament as a problem. They are in most cases not concerned with the plight of women. Even in learning about women, men are not interested, they have accepted this situation as normal and any contrary situation is considered as abnormal. Women are valued in most cases only for their outward appearances and services they render to men’s passions. It is worthy noting that the women who suffer this unhealthy treatment are our mothers, sisters, in-laws, wives and daughters.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The courage for this topic came from two sources, the first is the personal experience of how people ignore women and regard them as inferior to men and a belief that it is important to seriously what people have said about women. Women are still in many places treated as non persons, inferior, second class citizens and weak gender. The second source was an increasing awareness of and interest in what seemed to be some central tensions in feminist thinking and in the relationship between these tension and philosophical theories.
I am to explore some of these tensions and in particular to look at these which centre on the idea of a specifically female philosophical perspective. Women have wanted autonomy and have appealed to philosophical theories to express this, but some women have also argued that many conceptions of autonomy are male defined. They have wanted equality with men and have fought against their exclusion from theories put forward by men and my journey in this topic is to make necessary effort to identify and discuss what seem to me to be central tension in feminist thinking and the way in which these have involved both a use and a critique of philosophical theories against gender equality.
1.4 SCOPE OF STUDY
In this work emphasis will be based mainly on certain violent practices committed against women especially African women. Some of the various ways in which women have suffered violence will be explored both from the societal circle and that of the individual.
The method to be employed in this research work be expository, evaluative and practical. On expository part, I shall expose some of men’s actions that affect women physically and psychological. It will be evaluative, since I am going to evaluate certain tensions in the feminists thinking and the relationship between these tensions and philosophical theories. Finally, it will be practical since some research work is experimental and deals with the observable facts of our daily life as Africans.
Meanwhile, this work is divided into five chapters; in chapter one, general introduction on the nature of the work. In chapter two, literature review on the topic from different philosophical theories. In chapter three, Aristotle’s theories on soul and body as an analogy used in as position of women and men also in his theory of women and slavery, in the subsection of the chapter, the effect of the above theories on women. In the fourth chapter is the ideology of feminism and types of feminism, also in the subsection of the chapter, is strategies for justice on women. Lastly, in the fifth chapter is the evaluation of the whole work and conclusion of the whole work.