These were Aristotle's beliefs about women

These were Aristotle's beliefs about women

Dr. Witt also considered Aristotle's views on motherhood. According to Aristotle's philosophy, mothers only give matter to their offspring, while fathers provide the form. In other words, a mom may create your body, but a dad is the one who gives you your innate humanness. Even worse, Aristotle described women as incomplete men — or, "as it were, a deformity." That belief about deformity led Aristotle to some unusual conclusions. For example, Aristotle apparently believed that women had fewer teeth than men — which is false, and pretty silly.

Overall, Aristotle's philosophy of gender can best be summarized by his assertion that "a woman is perhaps an inferior being." How courteous of him to include the word "perhaps," right?


Now, some may wish to brush aside Aristotle's sexist beliefs by saying that the philosopher was simply a product of his time. But one essay from the Journal of the History of Philosophy casts doubt on this notion. The essay, written by Dr. Nicholas D. Smith, points out that Plato's views on women were far more progressive than those of his student Aristotle. Plato believed that women and men had similar natures (apart from physical strength), and that both sexes should occupy similar roles in the state. Aristotle believed the opposite: Women were naturally inferior and ought to play a subservient, domestic role. Learning this, Aristotle's intentional break from his teacher's belief in gender equality becomes much more startling and objectionable.