Item description for The Concept of Woman: The Aristotelian Revolution, 750 B.C. - A.D. 1250 by Prudence Allen...
Overview A careful and well-written historical study of the thinking about women in the Western world. It provides a sympathetic justification for some feminist intuitions that, at this point, are not well grounded philosophically. It will be well received by those who respect the difficulties feminism points to but see the exaggerastion and false directions it is going in.
Publishers Description This pioneering study by Sister Prudence Allen traces the concept of woman in relation to man in more than seventy philosophers from ancient and medieval traditions.The fruit of ten years' work, this study uncovers four general categories of questions asked by philosophers for two thousand years. These are the categories of opposites, of generation, of wisdom, and of virtue. Sister Prudence Allen traces several recurring strands of sexual and gender identity within this period. Ultimately, she shows the paradoxical influence of Aristotle on the question of woman and on a philosophical understanding of sexual coomplemenarity. Supplemented throughout with helpful charts, diagrams, and illustrations, this volume will be an important resource for scholars and students in the fields of women's studies, philosophy, history, theology, literary studies, and political science.
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.27" Width: 6.31" Height: 1.29" Weight: 1.9 lbs.
Release Date Jun 1, 1997
Publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN 0802842704 ISBN13 9780802842701
Availability 0 units.
More About Prudence Allen
Sister Prudence Allen is the former chair of the philosophy department at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy in Alma, Michigan. She has spent more than twenty-five years engaged in research on the concept of woman in relation to the concept of man in philosophy.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Concept of Woman: The Aristotelian Revolution 750 Bc-Ad 1250?
Too much info leads to distortion of Aristotle Dec 10, 2004
Sr. Prudence Allen provides a broad study of the philosophy of sex identity from the beginnings of philosophy until 1250 AD. The study argues that over the centuries, three basic ways of viewing the relationship between the genders has emerged; viz., sex unity, sex polarity, and sex complementarity. Her thesis is that Aristotelian philosophy, which held to sexual polarity, became ingrained in Western thought as a result of Aristotle's texts becoming required reading in 1255 at the University of Paris. This Aristotelian "revolution" is responsible for the ethos of male dominance that has permeated the West.
Yet Allen's thesis exceeds the evidence by both overlooking some complementary aspects of Aristotle's thought while misunderstanding and/or exaggerating others.
The first problem is Allen's categorization of the sexual categories themselves. The distinction between polarity vs. complementarity does not seem to be an exhaustive or useful one. Why? Complementarity presupposes some polarity; it presupposes that there is a lack in one thing in which an excellence of another thing can fulfill it. In other words in order for there to be complementarity there must be polarity - that is, a difference where one is superior to the other, at least in some respect, before there can be an completion of what is lacking, and because of this faulty categorization, the "polarity" side of Aristotle's thought is exaggerated to the detriment of his "complementary" side in order to make him "fit" into the polarity position.
The second red flag that will manifest to the alert reader is an apparent bias against Aristotle. She is quick to attribute to the father of logic the most basic of informal fallacies. Without any effort at alternative reconciliations, Aristotle is often said to have been "begging the question" at the drop of a hat. Moreover, Allen's depiction of Aristotle's thought and its consequences poison the well by being permeated with loaded language. To take some examples, Aristotle thinks men and women are involved in a "mutual hostility" and "he concluded that male and female are opposite in a hostile way" , giving "sex polarity the power to eventually dominate all of western philosophy", etc. This phraseology gives the mistaken impression that Aristotle sees the genders as locked in a sort of war of ongoing antagonism. But Aristotle did not view men and women in combat, but quite the opposite speaks of the "natural friendship between man and woman.
Finally, Allen overlooks the complementary nature of the Aristotelian form/matter composition and its analogous application to men and women. Nothing is more complementary for Aristotle than form and matter, they go together tighter than peanut butter and jelly or white on rice.
In the end, Allen is too quick to attribute complementarity to Hildegard of Bingen - she should have accorded more credit to Aristotle.
Weighty but readable genius Dec 2, 1998
If you read one book on the philosophy of sexual identity, make it a book by Prudence Allen.