Appeared in Spring 1979, Vol. V, No. 1

In this second part of a two-part condensation of her dissertation on St. Thomas’ philosophy of woman, Kristin Popik takes up the question of the woman’s position in marriage, the family, and society as a whole.  For a complete philosophical background to St. Thomas’s conclusions here, the reader is referred to F&R IV, 4, in which Dr. Popik treats the Thomist-Aristotelian biological theory of female inferiority in reason and moral virtue.  Perhaps the Scriptural assertion of’ male leadership reflects rather the reality of man’s more active or aggressive nature as opposed to the greater passivity or gentleness of the woman, a psychological distinction which might be interpreted as reflective of ultimate biologically sexual differences.  Such an interpretation would preserve the notion of the male’s obligation to create external conditions suitable to family life and the woman’s duty to order and harmonize the family’s domestic affairs within the conditions delineated by the male.  Here the roles would arise from differences rather than fundamental inequality.  In any case, a study of Aquinas’ thought on this and other aspects of the problem serves to clarify the issues and remind us of certain basic principles which are generally obscured in the current feminist debates.  As always, subscribers who do not read Latin may be assured that the substance of the offset quotes appears in the the surrounding English text.  This method of quotation, and other typographical features peculiar to this issue, are explained by the two-part series’ projected distribution under separate cover to a European audience.

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