in The Female in Aristotle's Biology

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780226512006
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226512020 | DOI:

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This chapter investigates three entomological claims of Aristotle that touch on his views on gender and whether or to what extent they are ideological. Two claims have been criticized as gender biased, and of these, one is quite infamous—his claim that the leader of the bees, what we call the queen bee, is a king bee. Aristotle calls the wasp that corresponds to the king bee a mother, notes a similarity between the mother wasp and the king bee with respect to their stings, and maintains that these mothers are the leaders of the wasps. A major problem with those who find Aristotle guilty of gender bias here is that they disregard his concern for observation and his reluctance to go beyond what the evidence tells us about bees and wasps. Thus, gender bias did not influence Aristotle's study of insects and, particularly, did not lead him to use the term “kings” to describe the leaders of the bees.

Keywords: entomological claims; Aristotle; ideological; wasp; gender bias

Chapter.  3846 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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