The Woman Question in Plato's Republic (Hardback)
  • The Woman Question in Plato's Republic (Hardback)
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The Woman Question in Plato's Republic (Hardback)

(author)
£65.00
Hardback 248 Pages / Published: 07/08/2017
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In this book, Mary Townsend proposes that, contrary to the current scholarship on Plato's Republic, Socrates does not in fact set out to prove the weakness of women. Rather, she argues that close attention to the drama of the Republic reveals that Plato dramatizes the reluctance of men to allow women into the public sphere and offers a deeply aporetic vision of women's nature and political position-a vision full of concern not only for the human community, but for the desires of women themselves.

Publisher: Lexington Books
ISBN: 9781498542692
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 553 g
Dimensions: 240 x 157 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
In this remarkable book, Townsend (visiting professor, classics, Loyola Univ., New Orleans) takes on the task of providing a detailed analysis of the "woman question" in Plato's Republic and, specifically, Plato's proposal that the best of the women share in all of the tasks of the guardians and philosopher rulers of the perfectly just city-state. The proposal is considered laughable (thus labeled the "First Wave"), not only by the interlocutors in the dialogue but by most readers through the centuries. Townsend's approach differs from most accounts of Plato's text in two ways: first, she takes his proposal as serious, albeit with elements of humor, satire, and irony; second, she weaves into the discussion a rich account not only of the lives of "ordinary women" in ancient Greece but also of the paradigms of womanly "divinity" of the goddesses of Greek mythology (Athena, Bendis, Artemis, and others), many of whom are dramatic characters in Plato's dialogues. In taking this descriptive approach, Townsend is able to paint a more complete picture of women in Plato's Republic and explain why Plato thought women were crucial for the successful rule of philosophy itself. Excellent notes and bibliography. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. * CHOICE *
[Townsend's] work provides a deeply thought-provoking account not only of Plato (drawing on both Republic and Laws) but also of gender roles in contemporary societies.... Townsend's book should be required reading not only for classicists and ancient philosophy scholars but also for political theorists and people interested in gender studies more broadly. She demonstrates entirely persuasively that Plato is grappling with some central and still unresolved questions about gender roles and about the relationship of private to public life. * Hedgehog Review *
Women are key to the reading of Plato's Republic, according to Mary Townsend in her challenging new book. . . . Townsend's book captures in a multitude of ways that have not previously been proposed the pervasive presence of the female in the Republic, forcing the reader of the dialogue--and of her book--to acknowledge that women indeed ought to be brought out of the shadows. . . Townsend writes in her Introduction that she does not necessarily expect to persuade all her readers; rather, she intends to engage and provoke. Here, she succeeds admirably. * Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy *
A rich and delightful book. Townsend shows that women, not some abstract idea, but women in full-erotic, tough, wild, and playful-are the beating heart of Plato's Republic. Her discussion of Bendis, Artemis, and the connection between hunting and Socratic philosophizing is particularly fresh and exciting. Townsend's wholesome understanding of political life is informed by a unique and eclectic range of readings, from Xenophon and Ovid to Vicki Hearne and Stanley Rosen. I'll be mining the notes for years to come. -- Jacob Howland, University of Tulsa
Mary Townsend confronts Plato's most controversial text, casting light on its unheard-of vitality and attractiveness vis-a-vis the question of woman-woman's desire, political role, biological function, and philosophical involvement. In a study at once disarmingly deft, original, and emancipated from ideological constraints, she dares to take seriously the `plans for women' laid out in the central books of the Republic. In this way, the dialogue opening with the celebration of a nocturnal Thracian goddess is exposed in its relevance to contemporary feminist thinking and, in general, to the task of holding open the question of sexuality, politics, and difference. -- Claudia Baracchi, University of Milan

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