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Plato on Women: Revolutionary Ideas for Gender Equality in an Ideal Society By Haral ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Plato on Women:

Introduction

Reading Plato

“Plato is not the man to dabble in abstract theories and principles; his truth-loving mind has recognized and represented the truth of the world in which he lived, the truth of the one spirit that lived in him as in Greece itself. No man can overleap his time, the spirit of his time is his spirit also; but the point at issue is, to recognize that spirit by its content.”

Hegel [1837]1975/II, 96

Plato (ca. 427– ca. 347 BCE), the “preeminent Greek philosopher” (Kraut 1995, 619), has been extensively studied. A major field of Plato’s comprehensive work is his political philosophy, which is multifaceted and multidimensional. The discourse on gender issues forms an integral part of it. In this context, one is surprised to notice that Plato’s elaborations have been interpreted in quite contrasting ways. For instance, Plato has been referred to as a “patriarchal” writer by some feminists (e.g. Barbara Freeman 1988) while others characterize the philosopher’s approach to gender issues as “unambiguously feminist” (Gregory Vlastos 1994). How can such contradictions in evaluation be explained in light of the huge amount of literature that has been produced to highlight Plato’s intellectual input? Is it that the content on which certain scholars focus is