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 (...) upon are Plato's concepts of 'necessity' and 'teleology', the nature of the 'receptacle', the relationship between the soul and the body, the use of perception in cosmology, and the work's peculiar monologue form. The unifying theme is teleology: Plato's attempt to show the cosmos to be organised for the good. A central lesson which emerges is that the Timaeus is closer to Aristotle's physics than previously thought. (shrink)
Aristotle thinks that an account, alogos, of some sort is characteristic of craft,technē. Some scholars think that thelogoselement oftechnēis tagged onto experience as a theoretical element not directly engaged in successful production: I argue instead that thelogosgrounds the productive ability of craft, and also that is practically orientated in a way that distinguishes it from thelogosof theoretical science. Understanding thelogosof craft thus helps us explain how the craftsman differs both from the merely experienced practitioner and from the theoretical scientist.
In his opening speech, Timaeus argues that the cosmos must be the product of a craftsman looking to an eternal paradigm. Yet his premises seem at best to justify only that the world could have been made by such a craftsman. This paper seeks to clarify Timaeus’ justification for his stronger conclusion. It is argued that Timaeus sees a necessary role for craftsmanship as a cause that makes becoming like being.
The notion of a capacity in the sense of a power to bring about or undergo change plays a key role in Aristotle’s theories about the natural world. However, in Metaphysics Θ Aristotle also extends ‘ capacity ’, and the corresponding concept of ‘activity’, to cases where we want to say that something is in capacity, or in activity, such and such but not, or not directly, in virtue of being capable of initiating or undergoing change. This paper seeks to (...) clarify and confirm a certain view of how Aristotle wishes us to see the relationship between the two uses of ‘ capacity ’ and ‘activity’. To that end, I consider also Aristotle’s employment of the terms in the De Anima, which sheds light on the key examples which direct the discussion in Metaph. Θ. (shrink)
This work investigates how ancient philosophers understood productive knowledge or technê and used it to explain ethics, rhetoric, politics and cosmology. In eleven chapters leading scholars set out the ancient debates about technê from the Presocratic and Hippocratic writers, through Plato and Aristotle and the Hellenistic age, ending in the Neoplatonism of Plotinus and Proclus. Amongst the many themes that come into focus are: the model status of ancient medicine in defining the political art, the similarities between the Platonic and (...) Aristotelian conceptions of technê, the use of technê as a paradigm for virtue and practical rationality, technê´s determining role in Platonic conceptions of cosmology, technê´s relationship to experience and theoretical knowledge, virtue as an 'art of living', the adaptability of the criteria of technê to suit different skills, including philosophy itself, the use in productive knowledge of models, deliberation, conjecture and imagination. (shrink)
The view that the soul can exist separately from the body is commonly associated with dualism. Since Plato’s Phaedo (Phd.) argues that the soul is immortal and survives the death of the body, there seems to be reason to call Plato, in that dialogue at least, a ‘dualist’. Yet, as we know, there are many kinds of dualism, so we have thereby not said very much. Let me therefore start with some distinctions. First of all, we can distinguish between two (...) kinds of dualism which say that the soul is a different kind of substance from the body. On one version, call it ‘strong’ substance dualism, no properties of mind can also be properties of body. Mind is defined as a kind of thing that uniquely has a certain property or set of properties, say consciousness, just as body is defined by its unique properties, say spatial extension. This would seem to be Descartes’ view. On another version, call it ‘weak’ substance dualism, no essential or defining properties of mind are also properties of body. This leaves it open whether the mind and body may share some accidental or non-defining properties. Finally, there is an even weaker kind of dualism which we may call property dualism. According to this view, there are mental properties which are distinct from and irreducible to bodily properties.4 However, these mental properties may or not be properties of an underlying substance that also has bodily properties. In other words, the same thing may have both mental and bodily properties, so having mental properties is not enough to make something a different kind of substance. (shrink)
Dans De Caelo III.2 Aristote affirme, en guise de critique, que la description platonicienne des traces dans la chôra implique nécessairement l’existence préalable d’un cosmos avant le cosmos. Dans cet article je me penche sur le passage visé par Aristote (Timée 52d2‑53b5), afin de montrer comment celui‑ci peut être défendu contre l’objection d’Aristote. J’argumente que les traces sont des formes géométriques qui assurent les matériaux au démiurge. Dans ce sens, elles peuvent être considerées comme constitutives potentiellement des quatre corps, et (...) rien de plus. (shrink)
Scholars have often seen Parmenides as entirely opposed to earlier materialistic philosophy. In this paper I argue that what is more striking in Aristotle’s Metaphysics Book I is the degree of continuity that he sees between Parmenides and the material monists. I explore this coupling of Parmenides with the material monists to understand better what he takes to be distinctive and problematic with Parmenides’ monism.
This paper considers Theophrastus’ use in the De sensibus of the principles that like perceives like and that unlike perceives unlike to criticise his predecessors. It is argued that the aporiai that arise from either position serve to motivate the view of perception articulated by Aristotle in the De anima.