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Why did Plato think women could be legitimate political guardians?

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Why did Plato think women would make legitimate political guardians? By Sarah Kennedy Word count: 2823 To Plato the role of the state, or republic, was to create a philosophical utopia within a community, this republic was to achieve this through many different factors. Plato himself despised democracy, "Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty." [1] He instead wanted to have a hierarchical government at the head of which would be a 'philosopher king' and under him the government would consist of well trained philosophers who would guide, protect and rule the state and it's people. Everyone in Plato's utopian state was of an equal status, whether they were rich, poor, man, woman or child, Plato argues that for his utopia to work the people of the state have to act as one community each with their own personal job suited to them, if someone doesn't perform their job then the state would crumble but if everyone performed their jobs and to their best efforts then what could be achieved would be a harmonious state where everyone could co-exist happily. As mentioned at the very top and with the key role within Plato's hierarchical society was of course, 'The Philosopher King' This person was to make all the decisions and would of course make the right decisions, for him or even her to come to such a high position of power they would have to be able to 'perceive the truth' or in other words the good or the best decision for everyone within the Republic. The Philosopher King would become almost like a God themselves and their duties included contemplating the good, the world of harmonious ...read more.


Plato believed this because he believed the men and women who were training to be guardians would be of equal status in knowledge for example, even if they were of different gender, Therefore they shouldn't be treated differently because of their sex but in a difference of talent, "Differentiation in treatment between one guardian and another should be based on difference of talent, not on difference of sex" [6]. As well as equality and being treated the same Plato wanted the guardians to share all the same ideals whether they were male or female, this also included their political views, if guardians had different ideas and especially political views then how could they run a state effectively if they all wanted something different or believed something completely opposite to what they were trying to uphold? It wouldn't be a utopia but a state of chaos. Therefore to have them all think alike they would obviously have to be educated exactly the same in precisely the same fields or differences and conflicts would easily arise on how was best to govern, on who would be the best to rule, what was best for the people and other ideas that a guardian was meant to represent and uphold. Women also took part in precisely the same sports as men and also warfare, they had to be equally as fit as they're male counterparts or how else would they be able to perform their duties as good as the men or perform the same duties? "We shall have to train women also then in both kinds of skill, and train them for war as well, and treat them the same way as men" [7] Plato expected women to stand side by side with the other ...read more.


Plato believed, that if women were taught something other then how to bring up a family and were taught in precisely the same way then how could they two sexes have any differences? To conclude Plato believed women could be legitimate political guardians because he believed that they could perform the same job as men if they had the same education and were treated the same and he believed they would be able to the guardian role in the first place because everyone had a slot within a community and without them working towards protecting and ruling the community his idea's would never work and the Republic would never exist or survive. "The best course is for the men and women to receive the same education, share children, and co-operate in the guarding of the rest of their fellow citizens...whether it involves staying within the community or going out to war. The women should help in the guarding and hunting, as female dogs do. They should share everything as much as the can, and this will not only be the best course of action for them, but is also not incompatible with their nature, as compared with masculinity, and is the kind of partnership which nature intended for the two sexes" [10] [1] Benjamin Jowett, The Dialogues of Plato, Great Books of the Western World, Encyclopaedia Britannica, pp. 409-413 [2] Plato "The Republic" 540a (Oxford Edition) [3] Plato "The Republic" 455b (Oxford Edition) [4] Plato "The Republic" 451e (Oxford Edition [5] Plato "The Republic" 451e (Oxford Edition [6] Plato "The Republic" 540c5-9 (Oxford Edition) [7] Plato "The Republic" 452a (Oxford Edition) [8] Plato "The Republic" 468a (Oxford Edition) [9] Plato "The Republic" 457d (Oxford Edition) [10] Plato "The Republic" 466c/b (Oxford Edition) ...read more.

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