This book is the first sustained modern investigation of Plato's theology. A central thesis of the book is that Plato had a theology--not just a mythology for the ideal city, not just the theory of forms or the theory of cosmic souls, but also, irreducible to any of these, an account of God as Nous (Reason), the source of rational order both to souls and the world of bodies. The understanding of God as Reason, and of the world as governed directly or indirectly by Reason, is worked out in the dialogues of Plato's last period, the Statesman, Philebus, Timaeus, and Laws. These dialogues offer a strategy for explaining the physical world that goes beyond anything in the middle dialogues, and gives the best starting point for understanding the cosmologies and theologies of Aristotle, the Stoics, and later ancient thinkers. Menn focuses on the Timaeus as Plato's most sustained effort to provide what (according to the Phaedo) Anaxagoras had failed to deliver: an explanation of the world through Reason, showing that things are as they are because it is best, or because it best serves the order of the world as a whole. Anaxagoras was disappointed because he explained things through their material constituents, without explaining why the constituents are ordered as they are; but the theory of forms has the same defect, since itcannot explain why different parts of the universe participate in different forms according to a particular order. The Timaeus and other late dialogues attempt to supply the missing explanation of the ordering of the physical world. These dialogues do not retreat from the middle dialogue theory of forms, nor do they escape into an esoteric theory of numbers; but they add to the middle dialogues an analysis of the principles necessary to account for the existence and partial intelligibility of the sensible world--not only forms and a material substance but also Nous and souls. Although the demiurge of the Timaeus (and his counterpart the Nous of Philebu
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This book presents a comprehensive study into Plato's theological doctrines, offering an important re-valuation of the status of Plato's gods and the relation between metaphysics and theology according to Plato. Starting from an examination of Plato's views of religion and the relation between religion and morality, Gerd Van Riel investigates Plato's innovative ways of speaking about the gods. This theology displays a number of diverging tendencies - viewing the gods as perfect moral actors, as cosmological principles or as celestial bodies whilst remaining true to traditional anthropomorphic representations. Plato's views are shown to be unified by the emphasis on the goodness of the gods in both their cosmological and their moral functions. Van Riel shows that recent interpretations of Plato's theology are thoroughly metaphysical, starting from aristotelian patterns. A new reading of the basic texts leads to the conclusion that in Plato the gods aren't metaphysical principles but souls who transmit the metaphysical order to sensible reality. The metaphysical principles play the role of a fated order to which the gods have to comply. This book will be invaluable to readers interested in philosophical theology and intellectual history.
Explores the formation of the cosmos and its relationship to God as indicated in the works of Plato. Original.
The Laws is Plato's last and longest dialogue. Although it has been neglected (compared to such works as the Republic and Symposium), it is beginning to receive a great deal of scholarly attention. Book 10 of the Laws contains Plato's fullest defence of the existence of the gods, and his last word on their nature, as well as a presentation and defence of laws against impiety (e.g. atheism). Plato's primary aim is to defend the idea that the gods exist and that they are good - this latter meaning that they do not neglect human beings and cannot be swayed by prayers and sacrifices to overlook injustice. As such, the Laws is an important text for anyone interested in ancient Greek religion, philosophy, and politics generally, and the later thought of Plato in particular. Robert Mayhew presents a new translation, with commentary, of Book 10 of the Laws . His primary aim in the translation is fidelity to the Greek. His commentary focuses on philosophical issues (broadly understood to include religion and politics), and deals with philological matters only when doing so serves to better explain those issues. Knowledge of Greek is not assumed, and the Greek that does appear has been transliterated. It is the first commentary in English of any kind on Laws 10 for nearly 140 years.
A fascinating investigation into the history of the concept of God through Greek philosophy, Mediaeval theology, the Reformation to Early Modern philosophy.
Der Tagungsband enthält eine Auswahl von 41 Vorträgen, welche von den Wissenschaftlern der IPS am 11. Symposium Platonicum in Brasilien unter der Schirmherrschaft der University of Brasília gehalten wurden. Der Band behandelt alle wichtigen Fragen im Zusammenhang mit der Interpretation von Platons Phaidon und der Rezeption dieses zentralen Dialogs in der gesamten Antike.
Although a great deal has been written on Plato's ethics, his cosmology has not received so much attention in recent times and its importance for his ethical thought has remained underexplored. By offering accounts of Timaeus, Philebus, Politicus and Laws X, the book reveals a strongly symbiotic relation between the cosmic and human sphere. It is argued that in his late period Plato presents a picture of an organic universe, endowed with structure and intrinsic value, which both urges our respect and calls for our responsible intervention. Humans are thus seen as citizens of a university that can provide a context for their flourishing even in the absence of good political institutions. The book sheds light on many intricate metaphysical issues in late Plato and brings out the close connections between his cosmology and the development of his ethics.
In this illuminating book Andrew Gregory takes an original approach to Plato's philosophy of science by reassessing Plato's views on how we might investigate and explain the natural world. He demonstrates that many of the common charges against Plato - disinterest, ignorance, dismissal of observation - are unfounded, and shows instead that Plato had a series of important and cogent criticisms to make of the early atomists and other physiologoi. Plato's views on science, and on astronomy and cosmology in particular, are shown to have developed in interesting ways. Thus, the book argues, Plato can best be seen as a philosopher struggling with the foundations of scientific realism, and as someone, moreover, who has interesting epistemological, cosmological and nomological reasons for his approach. Plato's Philosophy of Science is important reading for all those with an interest in Ancient Philosophy and the History of Science.
Twelve academic essays, given during the Institute of Classical Studies research seminar in 2000 and 2001, examine Plato's vision of the real world' as he presented it in Timaeus while considering the text's influence on classical philosophers and scientists. Specific subjects include astronomy, the reactions of Aristotle and others to Timaeus, Hellenistic musicology, Proclus' Commentary, comparisons with Aristotle's Physics, mythology.
Expanded and updated from the first edition published in 1978 by Louisiana State University Press.
A collection of Plato's work showing the unsurpassed power of his writing, which ultimately lies in the fact that he was as much a literary as a philosophic genius.