About this topic
Summary For the purposes of Philpapers.org, we understand Plato's "philosophy of science" to be basically what scholars sometimes call "natural philosophy" and "the philosophy of nature." Accordingly, Plato's philosophy of science is not centered around the sorts of topics that are researched by philosophers of science today: e.g., theory choice, scientific realism, and so on. (This is not the claim that Plato is entirely uninterested in these topics or that they are excluded from his natural philosophy altogether.) Instead, we understand Plato's philosophy of science as his research into, among other topics, biology, cosmology, medicine, teleology, and so on. His arguments on these topics can be found throughout the corpus but most of all in the Timaeus.
Key works Gregory 2000 talks about Plato's philosophy of science as "philosophy of science." Johansen 2004 and Broadie 2011 are two very important 21st-century books on Plato's natural philosophy.
Introductions Cornford 1935 is an invaluable commentary on the Timaeus that introduces (and more than introduces) virtually all of Plato's natural philosophy.
Related

Contents
821 found
Order:
1 — 50 / 821
Plato: Exact Sciences
  1. Why should we prefer Plato's Timaeus to Aristotle's Physics? Proclus' critique of Aristotle's explanation of the physical world.Carlos Steel - 2003 - Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 78:175-187.
  2. A History of Greek Mathematics.Thomas Heath - 1921 - Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  3. Plato’s Timaeus: Some Resonances in Modern Physics and Cosmology.Anthony J. Leggett - 2010 - In Richard D. Mohr & Barbara M. Sattler (eds.), One Book, the Whole Universe: Plato's Timaeus Today. Las Vegas: Parmenides. pp. 31-36.
    There are a few isolated passages in the Timaeus which an advocate might claim fore shadow modern scientific ideas. For example, 37c–38d seems to anticipate the concept of the “block” Universe as formulated by modern philosophers of science, and 52b similarly the Kantian notion of space. The “triangles” of 53d–57c might be regarded as a quasi-molecular theory of matter, and 67b makes a striking comment about the relation of frequency to perceived pitch. But I suspect much of this is coincidence. (...)
    Remove from this list  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   1 citation  
  4. Perception and Perceptual Judgment in Plato’s Theaetetus and Timaeus.Lea Aurelia Schroeder - 2022 - Dissertation, Yale University
  5. Proportionate Atomism: Solving the Problem of Isomorphic Variants in Plato’s Timaeus.Lea Aurelia Schroeder - 2023 - Phronesis 68 (1):31-61.
    The principles governing elemental composition, variation, and change in Plato’s Timaeus appear to be incompatible, which has led commentators to prioritize some of the principles to the exclusion of others. Call this seeming incompatibility the problem of isomorphic variants. In this paper, I develop the theory of proportionate atomism as a solution to this problem. Proportionate atomism retains the advantages of rival interpretations but allows the principles of material composition, variation, and change to combine into an internally coherent and explanatorily (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (2 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  6. Irrigating Blood: Plato on the Circulatory System, the Cosmos, and Elemental Motion.Douglas Campbell - forthcoming - Journal of the History of Philosophy.
    This article concerns the so-called irrigation system in the Timaeus’ biology (77a-81e), which replenishes our body’s tissues with resources from food delivered as blood. I argue that this system functions mainly by the natural like-to-like motion of the elements and that the circulation of blood is an important case study of Plato’s physics. We are forced to revise the view that the elements attract their like. Instead, similar elements merely tend to coalesce with each other in virtue of their tactile (...)
    Remove from this list  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  7. Plato on Education - The Philosopher King.Sfetcu Nicolae -
    Plato's educational model (paidèia) differentiates the level of education according to the students' skills. Thus, a basic education includes, in addition to gymnastics and fighting (the exercise of the body), music (the exercise of the spirit), without being imposed by force because a free man must be free in the conquest of knowledge. If the student has skills, he is educated in mathematics to become a strategist, and in astronomy to raise the soul. From these, the best are selected to (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (2 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  8. Mathematical Plato.Roger Sworder - 2013 - Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico: Sophia Perennis.
    Plato is the first scientist whose work we still possess. He is our first writer to interpret the natural world mathematically, and also the first theorist of mathematics in the natural sciences. As no one else before or after, he set out why we should suppose a link between nature and mathematics, a link that has never been stronger than it is today. Mathematical Plato examines how Plato organized and justified the principles, terms, and methods of our mathematical, natural science. (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  9. The unity of mathematics in Plato's Republic.Theokritos Kouremenos - 2015 - Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
    In his Republic Plato considers grasping the unity of mathematics as the ultimate goal of the mathematical studies in which the future philosopher-rulers must engage before they turn to philosophy. How the unity of mathematics is supposed to be understood is not explained, however. This book argues that Plato conceives of the unity of mathematics in terms of the mutually benefiting links between its branches, just as he conceives of the unity of the state outlined in the Republic in terms (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   1 citation  
  10. Solid geometry, astronomy and constructions in Plato's republic.Theokritos Kouremenos - 2004 - Philologus: Zeitschrift für Antike Literatur Und Ihre Rezeption 148 (1):34-49.
  11. On Plato's Conception of Change.Francesco Ademollo - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 55:35-83.
    In this paper I argue that in several passages Plato sympathizes with the following view: sensible particulars undergo continuous, pervasive physical change; as a consequence, where there seems to be one and the same object which is identical through time, there is in fact a succession of impermanent objects numerically distinct from each other but similar to each other. I illustrate the difference between this view—which invites interesting comparisons with modern and contemporary theories—and other, superficially similar views which Plato criticizes. (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   1 citation  
  12. Plato on chemistry.Ernesto Paparazzo - 2022 - Foundations of Chemistry 24 (2):221-238.
    It is a notion commonly acknowledged that in his work Timaeus the Athenian philosopher Plato (_c_. 429–347 BC) laid down an early chemical theory of the creation, structure and phenomena of the universe. There is much truth in this acknowledgement because Plato’s “chemistry” gives a description of the material world in mathematical terms, an approach that marks an outstanding advancement over cosmologic doctrines put forward by his predecessors, and which was very influential on western culture for many centuries. In the (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (3 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  13. Located in Space: Plato’s Theory of Psychic Motion.Douglas R. Campbell - 2022 - Ancient Philosophy 42 (2):419-442.
    I argue that Plato thinks that the soul has location, surface, depth, and extension, and that the Timaeus’ composition of the soul out of eight circles is intended literally. A novel contribution is the development of an account of corporeality that denies the entailment that the soul is corporeal. I conclude by examining Aristotle’s objection to the Timaeus’ psychology and then the intellectual history of this reading of Plato.
    Remove from this list   Direct download (3 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   1 citation  
  14. Mohist Optics and Analogical Reasoning.Boqun Zhou - 2021 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 20 (4):549-565.
    In Mohist philosophy, the gnomon is a metaphor for the standard of valid arguments. This metaphor comes from the method of establishing due east and west by observing gnomon shadows at dusk and dawn. I argue that there is also an overlooked, implicit aspect of the gnomon metaphor that comes from its function of measuring the height of heaven indirectly through proportional calculation. The function of indirect measurement inspires a strategy of argumentation in Mohist ethics, which I call “analogical upscaling.” (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (3 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   2 citations  
  15. The Soul’s Tomb: Plato on the Body as the Cause of Psychic Disorders.Douglas R. Campbell - 2022 - Apeiron 55 (1):119-139.
    I argue that, according to Plato, the body is the sole cause of psychic disorders. This view is expressed at Timaeus 86b in an ambiguous sentence that has been widely misunderstood by translators and commentators. The goal of this article is to offer a new understanding of Plato’s text and view. In the first section, I argue that although the body is the result of the gods’ best efforts, their sub-optimal materials meant that the soul is constantly vulnerable to the (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (2 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   4 citations  
  16. Self‐Motion and Cognition: Plato's Theory of the Soul.Douglas R. Campbell - 2021 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 59 (4):523-544.
    I argue that Plato believes that the soul must be both the principle of motion and the subject of cognition because it moves things specifically by means of its thoughts. I begin by arguing that the soul moves things by means of such acts as examination and deliberation, and that this view is developed in response to Anaxagoras. I then argue that every kind of soul enjoys a kind of cognition, with even plant souls having a form of Aristotelian discrimination (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (5 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   7 citations  
  17. Theokritos Kouremenos. Plato’s Forms, Mathematics, and Astronomy. (Trends in Classics—Supplementary Volumes, 67.) vi + 152 pp., bibl., index. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018. €99.95 (cloth); ISBN 9783110601435. Paper and e-book available. [REVIEW]Luca Simeoni - 2020 - Isis 111 (4):864-866.
  18. Вальтер буркерт. Астрономия и пифагореизм.Anna Afonasina - 2011 - Schole 5 (2):234-311.
    A Russian translation of a chapter on astronomy from the famous book of Prof. Walter Burkert is prepared for the participants of educational project “ΤΕΧΝΗ. Theoretical foundations of Arts, sciences and technology in the Greco-Roman World". The chapter treats the structure of the world and planetary system; the theory of planetary movements; the cosmos of Philolaus; harmony of the spheres and astral immortality. Original publication: Weisheit und Wissenschaft: Studien zu Pythagoras, Philolaos und Platon ; prepared on the basis of the (...)
    Remove from this list  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  19. Optical Metaphors and Plato’s Natural Philosophy.Sergey Kulikov - 2015 - Schole 9 (1):81-92.
    The article defends the thesis that interpreting Plato’s natural philosophy it is useful to take the terms horatos and aoratos in two distinct meanings: “observable” and “unobservable”, and “visible” and “invisible”. This approach helps to perceive new sides of Plato’s ideas, implicitly present in the “Timaeus”, which allows interpreting it in both anthropomorphic and anti-anthropomorphic senses.
    Remove from this list   Direct download  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  20. To Save the Phenomena: An Essay on the Idea of Physical Theory from Plato to Galileo.Pierre Duhem, Edmund Doland & Chaninah Maschler - 1970 - Philosophy 45 (174):344-346.
    Remove from this list  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   35 citations  
  21. Optics and the Line in Plato's Republic.Sarah B. Pomeroy - 1971 - Classical Quarterly 21 (2):389-392.
    Socrates, in the Republic, uses the symbol of a divided line to illustrate the distinction between the Visible and Intelligible Worlds, and between the kinds of perception appropriate to each. This paper will present a new hypothesis: that the proportions of the line are derived from optical theory. The construction of the Divided Line is described as follows: Socrates asks his interlocutors to represent the Visible and Intelligible Worlds by a line divided into two unequal segments. The ratio in which (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (2 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  22. The Astronomy of Heracleides Ponticus.Godfrey Evans - 1970 - Classical Quarterly 20 (1):102-111.
    Heracleides Ponticus, a pupil of the schools of Plato and Aristotle, who lived from about 390 to 310 B.C., shared the wide interests of many of his pre-Platonic predecessors. Diogenes Laertius gives a long list of his works, many of them now known only by their titles, which he divided into writings on ethics, physics, grammar, music, rhetoric, and history. Like most of his predecessors he gave some attention to the heavens and speculated about the nature of the moon, comets, (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (2 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  23. Astronomy and Observation in Plato's Republic.Andrew Gregory - 1996 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 27 (4):451-471.
    Plato's comments on astronomy and the education of the guardians at Republic 528e ff have been hotly disputed, and have provoked much criticism from those who have interpreted them as a rejection or denigration of observational astronomy. Here I argue that the key to interpreting these comments lies in the relationship between the conception of enquiry that is implicit in the epistemological allegories, and the programme for the education of the guardians that Plato subsequently proposes. We have, I suggest, been (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (3 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   1 citation  
  24. Astronomy and Kinematics in Plato's Project of Rationalist Explanation.Alexander P. D. Mourelatos - 1981 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 12 (1):1.
  25. Plato¿s "Real Astronomy" and the Myth of Er.Vassilis Kalfas - 1996 - Elenchos 17 (1):5-20.
  26. Plato’s Universe. [REVIEW]J. O. D. - 1977 - Review of Metaphysics 30 (4):776-777.
    This little book contains lectures given by Vlastos in the summer of 1972 in the Danz Lectures series of the University of Washington. His theme relates to that often rather paternalistic exercise of plotting out the extent to which Science was Revealed to the Greeks. In his view, "it was not given to them... to grasp the essential genius of the scientific method." However, they did discover "the conception of the cosmos that is presupposed by the idea of natural science (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  27. The Nature of Place and the Place of Nature in Plato’s Timaeus and Aristotle’s Physics.Emma R. Jones - 2012 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (2):247-268.
    I offer a comparison between Plato’s discussion of χώρα in the Timaeus at 48A–53C and Aristotle’s discussion of τόπος in Physics Book IV, arguing that the two accounts have more in common than has been suggested by Continental scholars. Τόπος and χώρα both signal what I call the impasse of place as the question of that which cannot be reduced to either the sensible or the intelligible, and which (un)grounds such categories. Identifying this impasse reveals Plato’s and Aristotle’s accounts of (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (3 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  28. PLATO AND SPECIAL RELATIVITY. Hamze - manuscript
    the same procedure that is in ancient Greece philosophy is reveal in the history of physics. the path from realism to idealism. in ...
    Remove from this list   Direct download  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  29. Plato's Natural Philosophy: A Study of the Timaeus-Critias.Thomas Kjeller Johansen - 2004 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    Plato's dialogue the Timaeus-Critias presents two connected accounts, that of the story of Atlantis and its defeat by ancient Athens and that of the creation of the cosmos by a divine craftsman. This book offers a unified reading of the dialogue. It tackles a wide range of interpretative and philosophical issues. Topics discussed include the function of the famous Atlantis story, the notion of cosmology as 'myth' and as 'likely', and the role of God in Platonic cosmology. Other areas commented (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (2 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   44 citations  
  30. The Mathematical Foundations of Plato's Atomic Physics.William Pohle - 1971 - Isis 62 (1):36-46.
  31. The Helix in Plato's Astronomy.Rudolf von Erhardt & Erika von Erhardt-Siebold - 1942 - Isis 34 (2):108-110.
  32. 14. Plato as physicist: Structure and destruction of the atom according to Plato’s timaeus.Paul Friedlander - 1958 - In Plato: An Introduction. Pantheon Books. pp. 246-260.
  33. Plato's Philosophy And The Essence Of The Scientific Method.Jan Such - 2003 - Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 79:37-42.
  34. Dimensional Concepts and the Interpretation of Platos Physics.William Pohle - 1973 - Phronesis 18:306.
    Remove from this list  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  35. Leibniz on Teleology and the Laws of Optics.Jeffrey Keegan Mcdonough - 2004 - Dissertation, University of California, Irvine
    This essay explores Leibniz's defense of teleology and teleological explanations in the domain of physics in general, and the roles that teleology plays in his studies of optics in particular. I argue first that Leibniz draws upon Plato's defense of final causes to introduce a novel research program intended to steer a middle course, on the one hand, between Aristotelian-Scholasticism and the new mechanical philosophy, and, on the other hand, between Cartesian rationalism and Gassendist empiricism. The implementation of this program (...)
    Remove from this list  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   2 citations  
  36. Studies in the Physical Theory of Plato's 'Timaeus.'.William Baldwin Pohle - 1969 - Dissertation, Princeton University
  37. Plato's Timaeus: Translation, Glossary, Appendices and Introductory Essay.Henry Desmond Pritchard Plato & Lee - 1961 - Indianapolis: Focus. Edited by Peter Kalkavage.
    Both an ideal entrée for beginning readers and a solid text for scholars, the second edition of Peter Kalkavage's acclaimed translation of Plato's _Timaeus_ brings enhanced accessibility to a rendering well known for its faithfulness to the original text. An extensive essay offers insights into the reading of the work, the nature of Platonic dialogue, and the cultural background of the _Timaeus_. Appendices on music, astronomy, and geometry provide additional guidance. A brief outline of the themes of the work, a (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (4 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   97 citations  
  38. Nova de Universis Philosophia Libris Quinquaginta Comprehensa. In Qua Aristotelica Methodo Non Per Motum, Sed Per Lucem, & Lumina Ad Primam Causam Ascenditur. Deinde Nova Quadam, Ac Peculiari Methodo Tota in Contemplationem Venit Divinitas. Postremo Methodo Platonica Rerum Universitas À Conditore Deo Deducitur.Francesco Patrizi, Roberto Hermes, Zoroaster, Aristotle & Plato - 1593 - Excudebat Robertus Meiettus.
    Remove from this list  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  39. Plato's Doctrine Respecting the Rotation of the Earth, and Aristotle's Comment Upon That Doctrine.George Grote - 1860 - John Murray.
  40. Physic and Physicians as Depicted in Plato.William Osler - 1893 - Damrell & Uphram.
  41. Greek Philosophy. Pt. 1, Thales to Plato.John Burnet - 2013 - Hardpress Publishing.
    Unlike some other reproductions of classic texts (1) We have not used OCR(Optical Character Recognition), as this leads to bad quality books with introduced typos. (2) In books where there are images such as portraits, maps, sketches etc We have endeavoured to keep the quality of these images, so they represent accurately the original artefact. Although occasionally there may be certain imperfections with these old texts, we feel they deserve to be made available for future generations to enjoy.
    Remove from this list   Direct download  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   3 citations  
  42. Mirror reversal of slanted objects: A psycho-optic explanation.Yohtaro Takano - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (2):240-259.
    No agreed-upon account of mirror reversal is currently available although it has been discussed for more than two thousand years since Plato. Mirror reversal usually refers to recognized left-right reversal of a mirror image. Depending on the nature and layout of a reflected object, however, top-bottom reversal may be recognized instead of left-right reversal; no reversal at all may be recognized; and the presence or absence of reversal may not be decidable. Takano (1998) proposed a psycho-optic theory to explain all (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (5 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  43. The Mathematical Foundations of Plato's Atomic Physics.William Pohle - 1971 - Isis 62:36-46.
  44. The Helix in Plato's Astronomy.Rudolf von Erhardt & Erika von Erhardt-Siebold - 1942 - Isis 34:108-110.
  45. Greek Astronomy and its Debt to the Babylonians.Leonard W. Clarke - 1962 - British Journal for the History of Science 1 (1):65-77.
    ‘Recent studies of Babylonian sources have shown that we must revise former estimates of the extent to which the Greeks were indebted for the details of their astronomy to the Babylonians; the debt proves to have been much greater than had been imagined, and further researches may prove it to have been greater still.’ So wrote Sir Thomas Heath in 1932; in the previous year, Professor Filon had written, ‘It is gradually beginning to be realized that many of the achievements (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (3 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  46. Arete and physics: The lesson of Plato's Timaeus.John R. Wolfe - unknown
    Plato's Timaeus is traditionally read as a work dedicated to the sole purpose of describing the origin and nature of the cosmos, as a straightforward attempt by Plato to produce a peri phuseos treatise. In accord with this reading, the body of Timaeus' monologue is then seen as nothing more than an attempt by Plato to convey his own cosmological doctrines. I propose an alternative to the view that the Timaeus is nothing more than a textbook of Platonic physics. The (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (6 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark  
  47. Why Does Plato Urge Rulers to Study Astronomy?Keith Hutchison - 1996 - Perspectives on Science 4 (1):24-58.
    This article expands a traditional pedagogic interpretation of Plato’s reasons for urging trainee rulers to study astronomy. It argues, primarily, that they need to become familiar with astronomy because it teaches them about cosmic harmony. This harmony indeed models a “personal harmony,” which will prevent them from becoming tyrants, and informs them about the analogous social harmony— which it will be their special duty to create and maintain. In Plato’s view, indeed, astronomy shows that social harmony requires obedience on the (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download (2 more)  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   1 citation  
  48. The World of Physics and of Plato.C. E. M. Joad - 1950 - Hibbert Journal 49:162-3.
  49. Plato's 'Real Astronomy': Republic 527d–531d.Alexander Pd Mourelatos - 1980 - In John Peter Anton (ed.), Science and the sciences in Plato. Delmar, N.Y.: Caravan Books.
  50. Physical Change in Plato's Timaeus.Brian D. Prince - 2013 - Apeiron 47 (2):211-229.
    In this paper I ask how Timaeus explains change within the trianglebased part of his cosmos. Two common views are that change among physical items is somehow caused or enabled by either the forms or the demiurge. I argue for a competing view, on which the physical items are capable of bringing about change by themselves, prior to the intervention of the demiurge, and prior to their being turned into imitations of the forms. I outline three problems for the view (...)
    Remove from this list   Direct download  
     
    Export citation  
     
    Bookmark   3 citations  
1 — 50 / 821