Aristotle and Aquinas on Women

Does Thomas Aquinas say that woman is misbegotten? No.

On the contrary, Aquinas denies it no fewer than six times:

1. In 2 Sent, 20, 2, 1, ad 1.

2. In 4 Sent, 44, 1, 3, 3.

3. Summa Theologiae, 1, 92, 1, ad 1.

4. Summa Theologiae, 1, 99, 2, ad 1.

5. De Veritate, 5, 9, ad 9.

6. Summa Contra Gentiles, 3, 94, n. 10.


For more information:

Michael Nolan, "What Aquinas Never Said About Women," First Things 87 (November 1998) 11-12.

Michael Nolan, "The Aristotelian Background to Aquinas's Denial that 'Woman is a Defective Male'," The Thomist 64 (2000): 21-69. [PDF]

Michael Nolan, Aquinas' Philosophy of Man and Woman (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1998).

Michael Nolan, Defective Tales: The Story of Three Myths (Ireland, Printcomp Ltd., 1995).


See also:

Michael Nolan, "The Defective Male: What Aquinas Really Said", New Blackfriars 75.880 (March 1994): 156-166.

Michael Nolan, "Passive and Deformed? Did Aristotle Really Say This?", New Blackfriars 76.893 (May 1995): 237-257.

Michael Nolan, "Aquinas and the Act of Love", New Blackfriars 77.902 (March 1996): 115-130.

Michael Nolan, "Aquinas and the Act of Love", in At the Heart of the Real: Philosophical essays in honour of the Most Reverend Desmond Connell, Archbishop of Dublin (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1992), 163-76.

Robert Mayhew, The Female in Aristotle's Biology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).


Cf. Prudence Allen, The Concept of Woman: The Early Humanist Reformation, 1250-1500, Part 1 (Eerdmans, 2006), 97-98, 138-139.

Replies to Objections:

Joseph Hartel, "The Integral Feminism of Thomas Aquinas", Gregorianum 77.3 (1996): 527-547.

Joseph Hartel, Femina Ut Imago Dei: In the Integral Feminism of St. Thomas Aquinas. Analecta Gregoriana. Vol. 260. Series Facultatis Philosophiae: sectio B. n. 18. Roma: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1993.

Benedict Ashley, Justice in the Church: Gender and Participation, The McGivney Lectures, 1992 (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996). [TWU Alloway Library: BX2347.8.W6 A74 1996]

Benedict Ashley, "Gender and the Priesthood of Christ: A Theological Reflection", The Thomist 57.3 (July 1993): 343-379.

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