Response: Plato’s Republic

In this piece of Plato’s Republic, Socrates and Glaucon discuss a possible utopia. During the time period in which this was created, women were often treated as inferior to men. However, in this idea of a utopia, this is no longer the case. While Socrates states that women and men are very different in nature, he strongly believes that they should receive the same education as men, and that they should both be given equal opportunity. Socrates firmly believes that women and men are both equally gifted and should be able to use their strengths in their most suited position possible. “And if so, my friend, I said, there is no special faculty of administration in a state which a women has because she is a woman, or which a man has by virtue of his sex, but the gifts of nature are alike diffused in both; all of the pursuits of men are the pursuits of women…”

Socrates also takes into account the differences between individual women. “And one woman has a turn for gymnastic and military exercises, and another is unwarlike and hates gymnastics?…And one women is a philosopher and another is the enemy of philosophy…?” He continues to state that certain groups of people will be selected to work with others that have similar qualities and strengths. “And those women who have such qualities are to be selected as the companions and colleagues of men who have similar qualities and whom they resemble in capacity and in character? Very true.” Socrates discusses this utopia in a way that allows women and men to work together, something that was nearly unheard of during this time.

While I agree with Socrates on many of the points he states when referring to gender equality, once he begins to continue with his utopia, my disagreements begin. My main disagreement with Socrates is that he uses marriage and reproduction as a way to create the best possible offspring. “And how can marriages be made the most beneficial?…Now, I beseech you, do tell me, have you ever attended to their pairing and breeding?” Basically, Socrates plans on choosing a man and a woman that will create the “best” offspring. “And do you breed from them all indifferently, or do you take care to breed from the best only? From the best.” In this utopia, offspring are treated as objects that are used to create a stronger society, as opposed to children being born without any thought about “inferiority” to others.

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