Published Humanitas, Volume XXXV, Nos. 1 & 2, 2022
Women’s liberation is a concept that is almost always found at the heart of revolutionary thinking. Plato, devising the ideal state in which all perform work according to inborn ability and hold goods in common according to the dictates of justice, very soon discovers that marriage and the nuclear family are hindrances to the perfectly just republic. Plato’s plan for abolishing the traditional family pertains to the guardian class and exemplifies a deep suspicion of the family as fostering attitudes detrimental to building the just state. Plato was the opposite of an egalitarian, but the view of the family as a harbinger of “private morality” would in the modern period characterize radically egalitarian philosophies that envision an all-dominating public consciousness and a corresponding collective activism. Family life, especially for women, is not naturally suited to this political objective. The construction of Plato’s perfectly just city entails the assurance that women worthy of being “guardians” can outsource childcare and can freely produce guardian-worthy children, thereby achieving demographic and political goals…
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