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Fair Reading of Spelman's Critique of Plato's Belief

Spelman argues that because this implies that women cannot control their behavior, they do not have the reasoning capacity of men, and she notes that the dialogues "are riddled with misogynistic remarks" (51). That gives philosophical support for patriarchal social organization and metaphysics, as well as the full range of injustices that women have experienced throughout history.

As long as mind is associated with reason, reason with masculine experience, and mere physicality with biology-as-destiny females who have the same social standing as slaves and animals--and as long as Plato takes the trouble to distinguish between male and female capacities and experience--then it appears that the structures of philosophical discourse have rather a lot to answer for. Spelman's injunction to feminists to be cautious of the latent misogyny in valorizations of the mind is difficult to discredit. Yet as cogent as Spelman's argument may be, it does not so much dispose of mind-body metaphysics as enrich the discourse and critique of misogyny and lend structure and texture to the interpretative exercise. That is not only because of her selective reading of Plato but also because her interpretation of mind-body dualism is not the only possible one.

One feature of Spelman's textual selectivity can be seen in the fact that, at least in Jowett's translation of the Phaedo, the soul/mind is gendered as female (she) and not as either male (he) or neuter (it). Spelman also c


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Fair Reading of Spelman's Critique of Plato's Belief. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 21:00, October 25, 2014, from
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