Reason in the limelight - femininity and rationality in Classical Greek Drama
The aim of this project is to develop a new understanding of how femininity and rationality were pragmatically linked but ideologically separated in Classical Athens. The objectives are: (a) to offer a philosophical and rhetorical inventory of the types of reasoning, the argumentative techniques and the evaluation criteria for argumentation employed by female characters in tragedies and comedies of the 5th century BCE; (b) to set the resulting map of the actual argumentative practices of feminine rationality against explicit theorization on rationality and argumentation as articulated in pre-Aristotelean texts. In this way, the project will (c) test a hypothesis formed in the course of previous research on internal critique in early Greek thought, namely that 5th- and 4th-century ideals of argumentative coherency and logical consistency, by which the principle of rationality was increasingly operationalized, are more clearly exhibited by female rather than male characters in Classical drama. The current consensus in Classics is that women in Classical Greece, Athens in particular, were thought of as apolitical and irrational by nature. By producing new knowledge on how “femininity” and “rationality” were conceptualized, represented and connected, the project will not only challenge this view, but also generate insights with immediate bearing on the continuous discursive practices of – and criticisms against – the gendering of rationality in Western intellectual traditions.