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The Female in Aristotle's BiologyReason or Rationalization$
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Robert Mayhew

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226512006

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226512020.001.0001

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Eunuchs and Women

Eunuchs and Women

Chapter:
(p.54) Four Eunuchs and Women
Source:
The Female in Aristotle's Biology
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226512020.003.0004

That Aristotle claims that females are, as it were, deformed when compared to males, might reasonably be thought to have a strong ideological flavor. Aristotle did not believe that animal generation involves the transmission to the womb of an already formed mini-male or mini-female, but concluded that maintaining an analogy between females and mutilated males—between women and eunuchs—had a great deal of explanatory power. His closest exposure to castration and its effects must have been his own research on the castration of animals. Aristotle concluded from his observations about castration that just as a relatively small change to the body of an animal can affect the whole animal, so a small change in the development of an embryo could affect not only the area that was directly changed but also the physical nature of the whole animal that results.

Keywords:   Aristotle, females, eunuchs, mini-male, mini-female

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