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Plato’s Timaeus: Physics for the Sake of Philosophy


Plato’s Timaeus: Physics for the Sake of Philosophy

Ives, Charles (2014) Plato’s Timaeus: Physics for the Sake of Philosophy. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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It should be reasonable to think of the Timaeus as an exposition on physics or, what I consider to be synonymous, cosmology. Such a view, in fact, is a constant in commentary on the dialogue. What is less prevalent, I find, is prolonged attention to why cosmology is at issue in the first place, and in this dissertation, at the most general level, I am filling in for this lack of attention. The Timaeus is not solely a physical treatise. Rather, it is part of a larger multifaceted narrative. As we learn at the outset of the dialogue, the previous day Timaeus and his cohort, which includes most notably, Critias, ask Socrates to offer his views on the nature of the ideal city. Socrates accepts but asks the group to reciprocate with a story about his city at war. They agree and the following day return to tell the story. When digging deeper, we see that Socrates is asking more specifically for an encomium to his city that highlights not only its actions in war but also its warriors’ education as philosophers. Critias, who spearheads the response, recognizes these details though instead of offering a story entirely his own, he draws on Solon’s account of the culture of ancient Athens and its battle with Atlantis. This account includes not only the martial component of the encomium but also specifics about the Athenian warriors’ education which, as it turns out, is centered on the study of the kosmos. In the end, Critias and Timaeus split the task of presenting Solon’s account. Critias will relay the story about the Athenian warriors’ victory but only after Timaeus, who shows cognizance of both Socrates’ interest in philosophy and the ancient Athenians study of the kosmos, presents an account of the cosmological education of philosophers. Thus, my most comprehensive contention is that the physical views expressed in the Timaeus are first and foremost the substance of an educational program that acts as the gateway to philosophy and consequently to superior philosopher-warriors, and I spend the majority of the dissertation unpacking this claim.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ives, Charles
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:26 August 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Falcon, Andrea
Keywords:Plato Timaeus Physics Education
ID Code:978984
Deposited By: CHARLES IVES
Deposited On:26 Nov 2014 14:08
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:48
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