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Timaios is one of the dialogues of Plato, which the great philosopher wrote in his latest years. It is a continuation of “About Town” or “About Justice” and after that, Kritias should be read, at least the fragment that is has survived to us. Another title for Timaios is “About Nature”. It was the main text of cosmology till 13th century, when the Physics and Metaphysics of Aristotle were discovered. The first two parts have been survived in latin and the third in hellenic. Plato uses Physics, Astronomy, Mathematics, Pathology, Cosmology and Metaphysics in his dialogue.
In the following article, small excerpts from the dialogue will be presented which have to do with the creation of the universe by the one God-Creator, the creation of the Soul of the Universe, and lastly the creation of humans by gods and how important is the part of their soul. The excerpts intend to give a taste from this dialogue. Expect an extended article in the future.
Timaios is a mathematician and an astronomer. He was born in south Italy, a Hellenic colony. He was the leader of the Pythagorean School. Other persons of the dialogue is Hermocrates, a famous general from Syracuse, Kritias, the later king of thirty tyrants of Athens –yet a philosopher and Socrates, who sounds like Plato. Another opinion is that Kritias is not the famous politician but another one, a scientist and someone who is involved in politics. Timaios and Socrates are about the same age. Kritias is very old. The main excerpts we will examine are from 27-35 70 and 90 which belong to the third part of the dialogue, the monologue of Timaios on the creation of the universe.
Timaios starts with an ancient custom. Kritias asks Timaios to invoke the Gods before he will start talking about the universe. Timaios responds to this request by saying that anyone who has just a trace of sofrosyne (=prudence) should invoke the Gods (27 c). He continues that is is necessary to invoke both male and female Gods and Godddesses to talk according to their will.
There are two things. The one who exists eternally but is unborn. This can be approached through thinking. The other is the one who exists eternally but doesn’t exist. This can be approached by intuition, because it is born and lost but never exists. Nothing can be created without a cause. The world we live is good because the creator wanted to make it eternal. “He saw in each one the eternity, because the world is the best of each creation and the creator is the best of all causes.” (29 a). “It is necessary that this world should have been created as an image of another one” (29 b). The creator God was agathos (=completely good). As agathos he created something similar to himself, the universe. (29 e) “According to common logic the universe is alive, has a soul, has logic and was created by the foresight of the God. (30 b)
The theory of the four elements is also found in Plato. “God placed air and water among fire and soil and he determined the right analogy… in a way he connected everything and he created one sky and one universe visible and to be felt. For those reasons, from the number of the four elements, as we presented, it was created the body of the universe…” (32 b-c)
God created a perfect world, without aging, without illness, complete. He gave the appropriate schema looking like sphere, because every point of the sphere has the same distance from his bordering, from the center. This schema has the other schemas inside. The universe has also his own powers and needs no external help. It spins around himself and it moves in a circular way.
In the spherical schema of the universe, the God-Creator put the Soul of the Universe in the center and expanded the Soul to the edges, so that everything is completed and surrounded with the Soul. The Soul was created afterwards. The virtue of the Soul is upper and bigger than the virtue of the body. The purpose of the Soul is to control the body. (34b – 35). The Soul of the World went back and saw herself starting a new life of virtue for eternity. The Soul remained invisible, but participating in thinking and in harmony of thoughts and eternals, as She was created by the ultimate good, God, Perfect among other born things.
Commentaries about this teaching of Plato.
While God created the universe, he didn’t created humans. The other gods, created humans following God’s order. The mortal genre should be created as good as it could be, by the gods. (71 d) Following the creation of universe’s body, the human body also contains the four elements and if one of them is in less portion than needed or it has moved to another area, then illness appears. Every human has a daimon/angel given by God. He lived in the upper part of the body (Neshamah) to guides us to the sky, to our higher self. “We are related with the sky, as we are plants of the sky, not of the earth.” (90 a) We have the freedom of choices. If we want to search for the truth, for knowledge we make progress on thinking immortally, thus we practice philosophy. In that case, the daimon we have, lives inside of us and he is happy. (90 c). The purprose of the platonic philosophy is to create a good and agathos human, closer to the one God-Creator.
"About the basic element of our soul, which is inside of us we must think the following: God gave to each of us a daimon. He dwells on the upper part of our body, to raise us from the earth to the sky, as we are related with the sky, because we are plants of the sky, not of the earth, as we truly say.
The divine put in the sky this part, from where our soul was born, the head as a kind of root which erects our body. The human who spent his time to fulfill his desires or disputes and gets tired with that kind of things, his whole philosophy is a mortal one and himself is a total mortal with nothing immortal stayed inside, as he increased only the mortal part. On the other hand, the one who is devoted to philosophy to obtain real knowledge and the truth he has exercised the part which thinks of the immortal and divine things, if he reaches the truth he will succeed, it is possible for his soul to participate to the immortal. He will not fall short in any section as he worships the divine and the daimon dwells inside of him, bringing happiness."
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