Greatness of Soul and the Souls of Women: Plato's Laws as an Introduction to Rousseau's Letter to D'Alembert


This article takes a new look at the education of women in Plato’s Laws. It will be followed by a second article in American Dialectic showing how Rousseau made use of the dialogue in addressing a specific issue of political reform during his own time. As I hope to show, the obvious parallels involving the political effects of imitative poetry and drama are not the only signs of Plato’s influence on Rousseau, and perhaps not the most important. I will also argue that the apparent inconsistency between some of Rousseau’s most important recommendations and those found in the Laws actually reflects a deeper agreement about the principles on which such reforms should be based.