Aristotle's Politics

Averroes and Alfarabi on Gender and the State

The Alfarabi and Averroes texts take unique approaches to topics discussed by Aristotle in Politics and by Plato in his Republic. It is important to understand these approaches in relation to each other because it is the similarities and differences between all four texts that provide the reader with a real understanding of what "good" government was perceived to be during those time periods. While contemporaries Alfarabi and Averroes both have ideal states in mind, their differences lie in what each considers the appropriate means through which to achieve them.

With regard to the body and soul, women and men have differences and similarities that are inconsistent among the philosophers. Plato approaches the physical differences by saying, "in these duties the lighter part must fall to the women, because of the weakness of their sex" (Plato 155). In her article "The Philosopher and the Female in the Political Thought of Plato," Arlene Saxonhouse writes, "Socrates makes his apology by suggesting that men and women differ only as much as bald men differ from those with long hair, that is, superficially and not with regard to their natures" (Saxonhouse 71). Plato also refers to their unique...

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