In Laws book X Plato tries to give us conclusive evidence that there are at least two gods (one good and the other bad). The reasoning depends crucially on the idea of ‘self moving motion.’ In this paper I try to show that the ‘evidence’ is not persuasive. (Nevertheless, the idea of ‘self – moving motion is interesting.).
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 (...) features as the atomists describe. The notion of attraction is replaced with this notion of mere coalescence. I begin by outlining how blood is made from food. I then argue that an understanding of health and disease compels us to read Plato as if he were an atomist and to abandon the popular scholarly interpretations according to which the elements attract each other. (shrink)
One of the ways in which Plato has captured the popular imagination is with the claim that the philosopher can feel erôs, passionate love, for the objects of knowledge. Why should Plato make this claim? In this chapter, I explore Plato’s treatment of philosophical erôs along three dimensions. First, I consider the source of philosophical erôs. I argue that it is grounded in our mortality and imperfection, which give rise to a desire for immortality and the immortal. Second, I turn (...) to the object of philosophical erôs. I suggest that it is an arresting response to beauty, through which we come to value the ideal properties of the forms. Finally, I address the nature of erôs. I claim that it is a focusing desire, that overrides other concerns and causes us to overwhelmingly focus on its object. I conclude the chapter by considering the problem Vlastos famously raises for Plato’s account of erôs: can it do justice to disinterested, interpersonal love? In agreement with Vlastos, I claim that one who comes to grasp the forms will cease to feel interpersonal love; however, I also suggest that erôs can give rise to philia, beneficent concern with the wellbeing of others. (shrink)
Balthasar impiega in tutta la sua Trilogia fattori fondamentali del pensiero di Platone: il bello, l’eros e l’analogia entis che chiama “Selbstbewegung” ignorando completamente la dottrina dei principi primi che la Scuola di Tübingen ha ricostruito grazie alle testimonianze dei suoi allievi nell’Accademia antica. Per parte sua, la Scuola di Tübingen esclude sistematicamente dall’indagine l’eros e la definizione di psychè del Fedro come “ciò che si muove sempre” e “muove sé stesso”. Non si occupa affatto del bello, perché lo assimila (...) senz’altro all’idea del bene. Propongo perciò una ricerca più filologica in cui espongo il Platone di Balthasar e quello della Scuola di Tübingen e una parte più storico-sistematica in cui delineo il divenire dell’estetica drammatica. Infine, propongo una soluzione del paradosso che ho identificato. La presenza di Platone nell’opera di Balthasar non è stata ancora riconosciuta. Solo due saggi ne parlano, ma sono problematici: in realtà si tratterebbe di Plotino, che sarebbe il vero compimento della filosofia greca. Non viene però preso in considerazione il fatto che Balthasar critica Plotino. (shrink)
This book sheds new light on Plato's cosmology in relation to Greek religion by examining the contested distinction between the traditional and cosmic gods. A close reading of the later dialogues shows that the two families of gods are routinely deployed to organise and structure Plato's accounts of the origins of the universe and of humanity and its social institutions, and to illuminate the moral and political ideals of philosophical utopias. Vilius Bartninkas argues that the presence of the two kinds (...) of gods creates a dynamic, yet productive, tension in Plato's thinking which is unmistakable and which is not resolved until the works of his students. Thus the book closes by exploring how the cosmological and religious ideas of Plato's later dialogues resurfaced in the Early Academy and how the debates initiated there ultimately led to the collapse of this theological distinction. (shrink)
This paper examines moral virtues and cult practice in Plato’s Laws. It explores the symposium and the chorus and their potential to provide a recognisable cultural setting, in which the Magnesian citizens can test their responses to pleasurable and painful experiences and thus train their moral virtues. The challenge to this reading is to explain what additional input to moral habituation is provided by the religious aspect of these institutions. This paper draws attention to the relationship between the people and (...) the patron gods of the respective institutions. It argues that the cult practices are designed to reflect the virtuous character of the traditional gods, who serve as the ethical role models for the worshipers. In this way, the worship of the traditional gods not only facilitates moral progress by exemplifying the objective of virtuous life, but also gives an egalitarian version of the ideal of godlikeness to its citizens. (shrink)
At key moments in the Phaedrus and the Republic, Socrates qualifies our capacity to “see” the highest realities (the “place of being,” the “Good beyond being”) with the adverb “mogis” (mogis kathorosa, Phdr. 248a; mogis horisthai, Rep. 517b). Mogis can be used to indicate either the toilsome difficulty of some undertaking or the subject’s proximity to failing to accomplish the undertaking. Socrates uses mogis to qualify the nature of the human soul’s capacity to make the intellectual ascent and see the (...) divine, but it is not prima facie clear whether the qualification is meant to express (1) the difficulty we have in undertaking the intellectual ascent (a comment on the effort required) or (2) the fact that the human soul’s capacity to make the intellectual ascent will, on account of its limitations, only “just barely” be achieved, if at all. After discussing the uses of mogis in classical literature and surveying Plato’s uses of mogis across the corpus, I interpret Plato’s use of mogis at Phaedrus 248a, arguing that mogis kathorosa should be translated as “only gets a good look at the things that are with much toil” rather than the more common “scarcely able to gaze upon the things that are.” I then turn to the parallel passage at Republic 517b and argue against a prominent account, put forward by John Sallis, among others, of Plato’s understanding of divine inaccessibility. Whereas Sallis et al. argue that Plato’s use of mogis indicates that which is to be seen at the acme of the ascent is only “barely glimpsed” on account of the fact that it “withdraws” from our view, I argue instead that Plato’s use of mogis indicates that though we can “get a good look” at the highest realities, that good look is qualified by their inexhaustible excess. The human capacity to see the highest realities is qualified because there is “always more to see,” not because that which is there to be seen “withdraws” from view, and still less because there is some intrinsic limitation to human intellectual vision that prevents us from apprehending the highest realities. Accordingly, the divine is accessible but never exhaustible. (shrink)
I argue that Plato thinks that a sunaition is a mere tool used by a soul (or by the cosmic nous) to promote an intended outcome. In the first section, I develop the connection between sunaitia and Plato’s teleology. In the second section, I argue that sunaitia belong to Plato’s theory of the soul as a self-mover: specifically, they are those things that are set in motion by the soul in the service of some goal. I also argue against several (...) popular and long-standing interpretations, namely, that sunaitia correspond to Aristotle’s idea of hypothetical necessity, that sunaitia are the ‘how’ in an explanation (whereas the true cause is the ‘why’), and that Plato’s causal views should be read through Aristotle’s fourfold schema. I conclude the article by surveying the history of sunaitia after Plato’s usage. (shrink)
Plato's moral realism rests on the Idea of the Good, the unhypothetical first principle of all. It is this, as Plato says, that makes just things useful and beneficial. That Plato makes the first principle of all the Idea of the Good sets his approach apart from that of virtually every other philosopher. This fact has been occluded by later Christian Platonists who tried to identify the Good with the God of scripture. But for Plato, theology, though important, is subordinate (...) to metaphysics. For this reason, ethics is independent of theology and attached to metaphysics. This book challenges many contemporary accounts of Plato's ethics that start with the so-called Socratic paradoxes and attempt to construct a psychology of action or moral psychology that makes these paradoxes defensible. Rather, Lloyd Gerson argues that Plato at least never thought that moral realism was defensible outside of a metaphysical framework. (shrink)
Many academics and researchers who publish scholarly articles on Plato’s philosophy of education claim that the ultimate educational goal for Plato is simply the acquisition of virtues. While such a claim may not be entirely incorrect, it is nevertheless substantially wanting; for although the acquisition of virtue is no doubt paramount, for Plato it primarily serves as a means to another end. In this paper, I aim to show that, for Plato, the final summit of all educational enterprise is not (...) really to become virtuous but rather to attain the state of becoming like God, and that is, homoiōsis theōi. -/- . (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide a new reading of Plato’s precosmos (Ti. 52d2–53c3). More specifically, I shall argue that the precosmos is populated by bodies deriving from random complexes of properties, and that this is the effect of the Receptacle’s full precosmic participation in the Paradigm. This will turn out to be consistent with a robust notion of ‘precosmic generation’ and will reveal why Plato may have sought to refer to this otherwise puzzling scenario: representing the precosmos (...) in this way allows Plato to effectively justify why the Demiurge is responsible only for the goodness and perfection of the universe, and why it is properly the best possible cause. (shrink)
This article investigates how Plato thinks we secure necessary motivational conditions for inquiry. After presenting a typology of zetetic breakdowns in the dialogues, I identify norms of inquiry Plato believes all successful inquirers must satisfy. Satisfying these norms requires trust that philosophy will not harm but benefit inquirers overall. This trust cannot be secured by protreptic argument. Instead, it requires divine intervention—an extra-rational foundation for rational inquiry.
In Nemesius' treatment of providence we find an original and suggestive step in the historical development of this teaching. His treatise 'On the Nature of Man' calls for a special attention that focuses on it not only as a testimony of the reception of ancient thought, but also as a personal contribution. In particular, in addition to his criticisms of the doctrine of fate and the conception of general providence advocated by some pagan authors, we find the introduction of divine (...) freedom as a predominant factor in the presentation of providence. Divine power and its freedom (even with respect to necessary entities) establish a new and specifically Christian approach to the problem. The divine will gains in prominence and, as a consequence, the metaphysical scope of God's power, which is above the creatural concepts of contingency and necessity, is emphasised. Thus, Nemesius anticipates the more complex expositions that would later be given by the medieval scholastics, who, like him, would make an ever wider use of Aristotelian philosophy without limiting themselves to taking Platonism and the other Hellenistic schools into account. (shrink)
This article concerns the place of Plato’s eschatology in his philosophy. I argue that the theory of reincarnation appeals to Plato due to its power to explain how non-human animals came to be. Further, the outlines of this theory are entailed by other commitments, such as that embodiment disrupts psychic functioning, that virtue is always rewarded and vice punished, and that the soul is immortal. I conclude by arguing that Plato develops a view of reincarnation as the chief tool that (...) the gods have to ensure that virtue is victorious over vice throughout the whole cosmos. (shrink)
This paper concerns Plato’s characterization of the body as the soul’s tool. I take perception as an example of the body’s usefulness. I explore the Timaeus’ view that perception provides us with models of orderliness. Then, I argue that perception of confusing sensible objects is necessary for our cognitive development too. Lastly, I consider the instrumentality relationship more generally and its place in Plato’s teleological worldview.
Is the holy holy because the gods love it or do the gods love it because it is holy? On the basis of this dilemma Plato works out the manifold and complex relationship between God and Morality in his dialogue Euthyphro. This dialogue not only plays a central role within Plato’s work on the question of the relationship between ethics and religion, but it also represents the starting point of the entire further Western debate about God and Morality. This article (...) gives a basic interpretation of the text, situates the dilemma within the dialogue, traces its character, intention, and structure, unfolds the course of the argument, and offers a brief outlook on its reception. (shrink)
Plato’s Timaeus reveals a cosmos governed by Necessity and Intellect; commentators have debated the relationship between them. Non-literalists hold that the demiurge, having carte blanche in taming Necessity, is omnipotent. But this omnipotence, alongside the attributes of benevolence and omniscience, creates problems when non-literalists address the problem of evil. We take the demiurge rather as limited by Necessity. This position is supported by episodes within the text, and by its larger consonance with Plato’s philosophy of evil and responsibility. By recognizing (...) the analogy between man and demiurge, the literal reading provides a moral component that its non-literal counterpart lacks. (shrink)
This article examines the development of ancient Greek theological thought from Hesiod to Aristotle. It argues against Aristotle’s and John Burnet’s accounts of the advance of early Greek philosophy. Complementing Werner Jaeger’s views, the paper claims that there is a process of rationalization within ancient Greek theology which does not progress in a linear fashion. Rationalization is defined as demystification and demythologization. The degree of ‘rationality’ of a theological view depends primarily on its degree of anthropomorphism. The less human characteristics (...) or behaviors are attributed to the Divine, the more ‘rational’ a view is. This article argues that the efforts of a group of Greek theologians to purge anthropomorphism were only partly successful. (shrink)
The Timaeus is perhaps the most unusual of Plato’s dialogues. In this paper, I attempt to interpret Timaeus’s strange speech, which makes up most of the dialogue. I argue that Timaeus has grasped the grave challenge posed to philosophic reason by men like Hesiod who claim that mysterious gods are the first causes of the world, and therefore one cannot say that there are any true necessities governing this world. If this is true, then philosophy, as the study of nature, (...) which depends on the existence of necessity, would be impossible. Timaeus articulates two serious attempts to meet this challenge by demonstrating the stability and rational comprehensibility of the world from solid first principles: one according to which mind is the cause of all things; another according to which everything comes to be through mindless necessity. But he ultimately suggests that neither of these attempts have been successful, thereby demonstrating the limits of natural science’s ability to meet the religious challenge. Timaeus’s speech also has a rhetorical purpose related to this failure: insofar as he finds himself unable adequately to meet the religious challenge, and yet is still attracted to and finds worthwhile the pursuit of philosophy, he thinks a rhetorical account of the cosmos is necessary to shore up faith in reason for elite and educated young men who find themselves inclined to natural science. The more rhetorical aspects of Timaeus’s speech, and above all his account of the triangles, serve this purpose. (shrink)
The form of the Good in Plato’s Phaedo and Republic seems, by our standards, to do too much: it is presented as the metaphysical principle, the epistemological principle and the principle of ethics. Yet this seemingly chimerical object makes good sense in the broader context of Plato’s philosophical project. He sought certain knowledge of necessary truths (in sharp contrast to the contingent truth of modern science). Thus, to be knowable the cosmos must be informed by timeless principles; and this leads (...) to teleology and the Good. The form of the Good, it is argued, is what makes the world knowable insofar as it is knowable. This interpretation plugs a significant gap in the scholarship on the Good and draws attention to a deep connection between Plato’s epistemology and his teleological understanding of the cosmos. (shrink)
At Tm. 47e, Timaeus steps back from his discussion of what came about through noûs and turns toward an account of what came about through anankê. Broadie, 2012, Nature and Divinity in Plato’s Timaeus, sketches out two routes for the interpretation of this ‘new beginning.’ The ‘metaphysical’ approach uses perceptibles qua imitations of intelligibles in order to glimpse the intelligibles (just as we look at our reflection in a mirror in order to view ourselves). The ‘cosmological’ reading assumes we use (...) the perceptible part of the cosmos in order to come to know the entire cosmos. Broadie openly favors the cosmological reading for understanding the Timeaus as a whole. However, she confines its utility to the Timaeus and does not recommend it for other dialogues. I use Broadie’s ‘cosmological reading’ to better understand what Plato distinguishes as anankê in his second beginning. This sets the stage for my argument that Broadie’s cosmological reading is a promising means for understanding the metaphysics and epistemology of the Forms. By making some comparisons to Sophist (251c–256a), I show that a refined understanding of anankê in the second beginning of the Timaeus clarifies what Plato thinks is involved in coming to know a Form. I argue that a close look at what was available to the Demiurge for cosmic creation by means of noûs yields three distinct ways in which his construction of the cosmos was limited by anankê. Clarifying these three ways in which anankê operates shows that the Demiurge’s manipulation of the foundational elements yields a perceptible world that brings out some potential relationships among Forms while suppressing others. In particular, the Demiurge’s geometricization of the elements leads him to make compromises concerning how Forms can combine in the Receptacle. These choices produce nomological relationships among the Forms with respect to where they can overlap in the Receptacle. This produces the law-like and reliable, but unnecessary, behavior of the perceptible world. I argue that our understanding of these limitations and their translation into where the Receptacle can partake in more than one Form simultaneously, figures importantly in the estimating the potential for human knowledge of the Forms. I question the use of ‘necessity’ as a translation for ‘anankê’ in the Timaeus. (shrink)
The review of this anthology of essays shows the lifelessness of the contributors. They systematically misread everyone from Plato to Kierkegaard. The false ratiocination about love is also foregrounded in this review. Earlier this reviewer had the misfortune to review The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Death . Then an American cloistered Benedictine Abbot wrote to this author in an email this: ""Yes, indeed, the book is not very serious. When the authors die some day, they will understand better, (...) as we all shall see". And this same Abbot has written this after reading this review: "Yes, Professor, for some time now, our Western culture, having lost its reference to authentic Christianity, prefers to indulge in the self-pity of a kind of false heroism of resignation in the face of death. There is no sense of immortality, therefore, the modern Hamlet perceives himself as a tragic hero who glories in his empty agnosticism and admires his own resolution in the face of the inevitable. Neither East nor West ever really lived from such a Philosophy: only the decadent Christian or Jew. But the reality is elsewhere. Thanks. " It must be remarked I am just a tenured Assistant Professor but the Abbot does not listen. Further, this book along with that earlier book this author reviewed on the philosophy of death can now be contextualized in the light of the resurgence of Covid 19. Basic epidemiology says its going nowhere soon. Therefore everyone everywhere has experienced death in ways we never imagined. The contributors to this anthology too were too glib in their times. And now, they have experienced death. These books arise from loveless lives which hover around departmental chairs and absurd academic flip-flops to gain brownie points. Perhaps, they were all as prescient as the Abbot. The editor, for reasons known alone to him, has given the meaning of facile in square brackets. (shrink)
Plato wonders why a good God might allow the existence of evil. This problem is especially pertinent to his dialogue Timaeus, in which Plato describes the creation of the cosmos by a benevolent divine craftsman called the Demiurge. A justification for why God allows evil to exist is called a theodicy. Readers of the Timaeus have interpreted the theodicy of this dialogue in many ways. After showing the shortcomings of some common interpretations, I offer a largely original interpretation of the (...) theodicy of the Timaeus. I claim that in the Timaeus evil is caused by conflict between souls, and this conflict is something that the good (but not omnipotent) Demiurge could not avoid. However, I think that Plato’s Demiurge may have made the best of this imperfect situation by placing souls in a cycle of reincarnation that functions as a rehabilitative punishment, and thereby ordering the cosmos for their redemption. (shrink)
Three distinct reasons that Plato calls the rational part of the soul “divine” are analyzed: its metaphysical kinship with the Forms, its epistemological ability to know the Forms, and its ethical capacity to live by them. Supposing these three divine aspects of the rational part are unified in the life of each person, they naturally suggest a process of divinization or “becoming like god” according to which a person, by living more virtuously, which requires increasingly better knowledge of the Forms, (...) gradually becomes united with them. This process of divinization is in fact found throughout the middle and late dialogues, including the Phaedo, Republic, Symposium, Phaedrus, Timaeus, and the Laws. This synoptic view of the Platonic idea of divinization provides a standard according to which misplaced emphasis, flaws, and tension created by other interpretations are criticized and corrected. (shrink)
Le démiurge de Platon et l'atome primitif de Lemaître sont deux intuitions inédites, artifices théoriques d'astronomie anti-observationnelle. La genèse de ces artifices remonte à la thématisation présocratique de l'unité cosmique. Platon institutionnalise les Formes intelligibles et platonise les présocratiques. Lemaître, contemporain d'Einstein, est tributaire d'une unité cosmique marquée par la gravitation relativiste, qui disqualifie le système classique ayant, en son temps, déclassé les substances et le mouvement aristotéliciens. La théorisation montre comment Platon fait du démiurge le concept axial de son (...) astronomie géométrique. L'univers est conforme aux normes mathématiques. La perspective dynamique de Lemaître émerge contre le modèle stationnaire d'Einstein/De Sitter, aristotélicien en son fond. Au bout, deux configurations apparaissent : sphérique et homogène, l'univers de Platon repose sur le triangle. L'« âme du monde » en assure la dynamique. D'interprétation quantique, la singularité cosmique de Lemaître développe le modèle d'un univers issu de l'explosion (big bang) d'un atome primitif : l'isotope du neutron. (shrink)
Burnet's text at Pl. Ti. 55c7–d6 is at least questionable, and opting for a different reading at 55d5 would shed light on an intriguing argumentative aspect of Plato's cosmological account: God confirms the metaphysical reasons why there is just one perfect world.
There are different meanings of the word “God” that have been used by philosophers throughout the history of philosophy, such as theism, pantheism, panentheism, deism, and etc. The subject of this paper is the concept of “God” in Plato’s philosophy. Considering Plato’s different treatises that have the most theological material, it can be said that he has not meant a single concept of this word. In The Republic, given the characteristics that have been attributed to God, like simplicity, transcendental, it (...) seems that his conception of God is close to theism. In Phaedo, since Plato does not give any role to the gods, it seems that we are encountered a Plato without God. In Timaeus, we encounter two candidates, Demiurge and the world’s soul. Some philosophers consider Demiurge as a myth and the world’s soul as Plato’s God. According to this view, Plato can be regarded as the source of inspiration for the Pannanteists. In contrast, some other believe that the world’s soul here is a myth and Demiurge is Plato’s God. This viewpoint is closer to theism. In the Laws, since Plato mentions some attributes to God, such as three absolutes, the origin of moral obligation, and etc. His conception here is very close to theism. On the other hand, the “first self-moved Mover” presents a panentheistic conception of God. His various treatises also provide evidence in favor of the unknown God of the Negative Theology. Thus, there are various conceptions of God in Plato’s philosophy. (shrink)
In _Did God Care?_ Dylan Burns offers the first comprehensive survey of providence in ancient philosophy, from Plato to Plotinus, that takes into full account the importance and innovations of early Christian thinkers, including Coptic Gnostic and Syriac sources.
The interest of the young Brentano for the philosophy of Plato is linked to his Aristotelian studies. Brentano understands Aristotle’s philosophy in deep continuity with Plato’s one. This continuity is clear in one of the most controversial points of Brentano’s interpretation of Aristotle: the nature of God and the status of human soul. Brentano finds in both Plato and Aristotle a personal, monotheistic and creationistic God who also creates human soul, which is immortal. This approach is explained in some texts (...) from the youth of Brentano, although there are signs indicating that he sustained it until the end of his life. In his interpretation of Plato’s God, we see that Brentano identifies Him with the Idea of Good and the Demiurge. The Idea of Good would have even created the other Platonic Ideas, which should be understood as gods. (shrink)
In reconstructing the conceptual universe of Jonas’s philosophy, a privileged place can, or indeed must, be reserved for his relationship with the classical heritage. More specifically, a crucial role is played by Plato, especially because, as Jonas strongly underlines, “with Plato you have to go back a much greater distance to make him applicable to the present. But of course Plato is the greater one, the one we have to study again and again from scratch, the one we must discover. (...) With Plato, you’re never finished, that’s the great foundation for all of Western philosophy”. In the light of this premise, this article will focus on the highly original use made in Jonas’s Der Gottesbegriff nach Auschwitz of the Platonic heritage, associated with the mythical figure of the Demiurge in the Timaeus. (shrink)
Chez les interprètes récents du Timée de Platon, le terme « téléologie », inventé au xviiie siècle, a pris une place déterminante. Mais l’usage de ce terme trahit une interprétation aristotélicienne de la figure du démiurge qu’il s’agit d’assimiler au premier moteur, dans le contexte de la cause finale. On s’interrogera ici sur l’origine de ce terme, et sur la pertinence de son usage pour comprendre le rôle que joue le démiurge dans le Timée.
The digression of Plato’s Theaetetus (172c2–177c2) is as celebrated as it is controversial. A particularly knotty question has been what status we should ascribe to the ideal of philosophy it presents, an ideal centered on the conception that true virtue consists in assimilating oneself as much as possible to god. For the ideal may seem difficult to reconcile with a Socratic conception of philosophy, and several scholars have accordingly suggested that it should be read as ironic and directed only at (...) the dramatic character Theodorus. When interpreted with due attention to its dramatic context, however, the digression reveals that the ideal of godlikeness, while being directed at Theodorus, is essentially Socratic. The function of the passage is to introduce a contemplative aspect of the life of philosophy into the dialogue that contrasts radically with the political-practical orientation characteristic of Protagoras, an aspect Socrates is able to isolate as such precisely because he is conversing with the mathematician Theodorus. (shrink)
A far-reaching reinterpretation of Plato’s Timaeus and its engagement with time, eternity, body, and soul that in its original French edition profoundly influenced Derrida The Tomb of the Artisan God provides a radical rereading of Timaeus, Plato’s metaphysical text on time, eternity, and the relationship between soul and body. First published in French in 1995, the original edition of Serge Margel’s book included an extensive introductory essay by Jacques Derrida, who drew on Margel’s insights in developing his own concepts of (...) time, the promise, the world, and khōra. Now available in English with a new preface by Margel, this engagement with Platonic thought proceeds from two questions that span the history of philosophy: What is time? What is the body? Margel’s twinned interrogation centers around Plato’s concept of the demiurge (divine artisan or craftsman): its body, its anthropomorphic attributes, its productive capacities and regulatory functions in the ordering/organization/assembling of the world. He posits that this paradoxical figure is not merely a cosmological metaphor for the living body but also the site of its destruction, dissolution, and disappearance. Torn between the finite and the infinite, being and becoming, the concept of demiurge also poses metaphysical questions about time, time before time, and the end of time. The ontological status of the demiurge’s body, Margel argues, would become increasingly decisive in the history of philosophy, particularly in Christianity and the dogma of incarnation. (shrink)
In this paper I propose a reconstruction of the onto-cosmological perspective of Plato’s Timaeus and suggest an interpretation of it in the light of some contemporary approaches to ontology and logic, i.e. “ontological sequentialism” and “fuzzy logic”, attempting to use the categories and language of present-day ontology and logic to examine from a different point of view some aspects of the Timaeus onto-cosmology and of its logical scaffolding.
Description courte (Électre, 2019) : Une étude d'un des principaux axes de réflexion du philosophe des sciences et de la nature Raymond Ruyer (1902-1987). À la lumière des découvertes de l'embryogenèse et en s'appuyant par ailleurs sur la théorie de l'information, il proposa une interprétation des concepts unificateurs de la cybernétique mécaniste. -/- Short Descriptor (Electre 2019): A study of one of the main axes of reflection of the French philosopher of science and of nature Raymond Ruyer (1902-1987). Relying on (...) the discoveries about embryogenesis, and also with the use of information theory, Ruyer proposed an interpretation of the main unifying concepts of mechanistic cybernetics. -/- Cet ouvrage propose une étude fouillée d'un des principaux axes de réflexion du philosophe des sciences et de la nature français Raymond Ruyer (1902–1987) : la cybernétique. Après avoir proposé une philosophie structuraliste, Ruyer la modifia à la lumière des découvertes de l'embryogenèse, puis il proposa une interprétation des concepts unificateurs de la cybernétique mécaniste. Réfléchissant sur cette dernière et sur la théorie de l'information, en particulier sur l'origine de l'information, il défendit que cette cybernétique n'était qu'une lecture inversée de la vraie cybernétique, qui nous donnerait de lire dans l'expérience même les traces du pouvoir morphogénétique, appréhendé comme un champ axiologique. Dans un texte résumant son propre parcours, Ruyer affirma finalement que la critique de la théorie de l'information « peut donner […] l'espoir d'aboutir à quelque chose comme une nouvelle théologie. » Les idées directrices de Ruyer sont tout particulièrement contextualisées ici à partir de la question du développement des formes en biologie, et de celles de la génétique, de la genèse stochastique de l'ordre, et de l'identification mentale ou physique de l'information. Il se termine en départageant ce qui est théologique et axiologique dans ce projet de métaphysique qui, bien que resté inachevé, n'en représente pas moins le plus impressionnant conçu en France au siècle dernier. – This book offers an in-depth study of one of the main axes in the reflection of French philosopher of science and nature Raymond Ruyer. In a text summarising his own development, Ruyer stated about the philosophical critique of information theory that it "is what can give the most long-lasting hope of getting to something like a new theology." After propounding a structuralist philosophy, and distinguishing between form and structure, to then modify it in the light of discoveries in embryogenesis, Ruyer offered a re-evaluation of the unifying concepts of mechanistic cybernetics. Thinking about it and about information theory, he defended the idea that this cybernetics was in reality an inverted reading of the real one, which would allow us to read in experience itself traces of the morphogenetic power, apprehended as the axiological field. On some transversal points, the development of forms in biology and genetics, the stochastic genesis of order, the identification of information with either psychological and mental, or physical reality, behaviour, and the access to meaning, this work exposes the main ideas of Ruyer while situating them in the context of the breadth of others' contributions. It ends by determining what is theological and axiological in this project for a metaphysics which, although unfinished, is nevertheless the most impressive effort done in France in the last century. – Available on i6doc dot com (ISBN 978-2-930517-56-8 ; pdf 978-2-930517-57-5). (shrink)
This paper deals with Plato’s theology based mainly on Book X of the Laws. According to Plato, there are three false beliefs which are fatal to moral character, namely atheism, denial of the moral government of the world, and the belief that divine judgment can be bought off by prayers and offerings. Furthermore, legislation is an embodiment of the divine laws that govern the universe, and therefore it is the task of the legislator to see that every aspect of the (...) state is directed to the inculcation of virtue. Human beings are seen as small parts of the universe and that the gods’ care for human affairs is seen as part of their care for the whole. Plato reinforces the argument that since the universe is under rational direction, one can be certain that what happens to humans after death will be appropriate to the character they have acquired in this life. The message is thus conveyed that people will in some way be rewarded or punished after death, without relying on the kind of mythical detail which the young atheist would obviously reject. (shrink)
Plato tries to explain the becoming of the cosmos by referring to the concepts of order and disorder. Scholars have usually focused on the relationship between the cosmos and the demiurge that Plato puts forward to explain the reasonable development. Along these lines, scholarship has examined the providential role played by both the demiurge and the soul of the world. Yet, an interesting problem still remains open: what exactly is the function of disorder? What is the sense of the concept (...) of a perfectly established order if we do not know the manner in which it is achieved, since we have no understanding of the conditions that make it possible? Pursuing this line of thought, one may point to a providential role of the disorder given the balance of forces that operates in Plato’s cosmic becoming. (shrink)
In Plato, ‘Becoming like God’ constitutes the telos of the philosophical life. Our ‘likeness to God’ is rooted in the relationship of the divine paradeigma to its image established in the generation of the Cosmos. This relationship makes knowledge and virtue possible, and informs Plato’s theory of education. Related concepts preexist in Judeo-Christian and other traditions and continue to inform our thought on moral and ethical issues, particularly as regards our understanding of what it means to be human. From the (...) idea of ‘likeness to God’, emerges the tradition of philosophical mysticism which has its roots in Plotinus, whose aim is union of the individual soul with its ultimate principle. The task of realizing virtue in daily life appears opposed to assimilation to the divine, because the latter requires a stripping away of finite determinations, and preoccupation with particular things, in order that we may escape from the multiplicity of sensible and even intelligible reality. This article considers the opposition between ‘worldly’ and ‘otherworldly’ virtue, as well as previously neglected aspects of ‘likeness to God’ and ‘becoming like God’ in Plato and Plotinus, and explores their continued relevance for pedagogical theory and practice today. (shrink)
An Archaeology of Disbelief traces the classical origin of secular philosophy in ancient Greece based on a close examination of its few relevant texts still available today. More than a dozen pre-Socratic philosophers are examined as well Aristotle and such later figures as Strato, Carneades, Lucretius, and Cicero.
Proclus' commentary on the dialogue Timaeus by Plato, written in the fifth century AD, is arguably the most important commentary on a text of Plato, offering unparalleled insights into eight centuries of Platonic interpretation. It has had an enormous influence on subsequent Plato scholarship. This edition nevertheless offers the first new translation of the work for nearly two centuries, building on significant recent advances in scholarship by Neoplatonic commentators. It will provide an invaluable record of early interpretations of Plato's dialogue, (...) while also presenting Proclus' own views on the meaning and significance of Platonic philosophy. The book presents Proclus' unrepentant account of a multitude of divinities involved with the creation of mortal life, the supreme creator's delegation to them of the creation of human life, and the manner in which they took the immortal life principle from him and wove it together with our mortal parts to produce human beings. (shrink)