Literature Timaeus


Catalog # SKU3862
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Plato, Thomas Taylor
ISBN 10: 0000000000
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The Timaeus

Translator: Thomas Taylor

Plato, unfolding the knowledge of eternal being, calls it at first intelligence, but he also conjoins with intelligence reason. For, when reason understands perpetual being, as reason it energizes transitively, but as perceiving intellectually it energizes with simplicity, understands each particular so far as simple at once, but not all things at once, but passing from one to another, at the same time intellectually perceiving every thing which it transitively sees, as one and simple.



In the next place, let us consider what reason is, and how it is connate with intelligence. Reason, therefore, is threefold, doxastic, scientific, and intellectual. For since there are in us opinion, the dianoetic part, and intellect, which last is the summit of the dianoetic part, and since the whole of our essence is reason, in each of these parts reason must be differently considered. But neither is opinion naturally adapted to be conjoined with the intelligence of intellect in energy; for, on the contrary, it is conjoined with irrational knowledge, since it only knows that a thing is, but is ignorant of the why. Nor is the dianoetic part, so far as it proceeds into multitude and division, capable of recurring to an intellect above the human soul, but on the contrary, it is separated through the variety of its reasons from intellectual impartibility. It remains, therefore, that the summit of the soul, and that which is most characterized by unity in the dianoetic part, must be established in the intelligence of a partial intellect, being conjoined with it through alliance.

This, then, is the reason which understands in us intelligibles, and an energy which Socrates in the Republic calls intelligence, in the same manner as he calls the dianoetic power a knowledge subsisting between intelligibles and objects of opinion. In a subsequent part of this dialogue, Plato says, that this reason, together with science, is ingenerated in the soul when revolving about the intelligible. Science, however, has a more various energy, exploring some things by others; but the energy of intellect is more simple, surveying beings by an immediate projection of its visive power. This highest, therefore, and most indivisible part of our nature, Plato now denominates reason, as unfolding to us intellect and an intelligible essence. For, when the soul abandons phantasy and opinion, together with various and indefinite knowledge, and recurs to its own impartibility, according to which it is rooted in a partial intellect, and when recurring it conjoins its own energy with the intelligence of this intellect, then, together with it, it understands eternal being, its energy being both one and twofold, and sameness and separation subsisting in its intellections. For then the intelligence of the soul becomes more collected, and nearer to eternal natures, that it may apprehend the intelligible together with intellect, and that our reason, like a lesser, may energize in conjunction with a greater, light.

But how is true being comprehended by a partial intellect, or by reason? For true being is superior to all comprehension, and contains in itself all things with an exempt transcendency. In answer to this it may he replied, that intellect possessing its own intelligible, is on this account said to comprehend the whole of an intelligible essence; but reason, through an intellect coordinate to itself receiving conceptions of real beings, is thus through these said to comprehend being. Perhaps, also, it may be said that reason running round the intelligible, and energizing, and being moved as about a centre, thus beholds it; intelligence, indeed, knowing it without transition and impartibly, but reason circularly energizing about its essence, and evolving the united subsistence of all things which it contains.

Let us, in the next place, consider what opinion is. According to Plato, then, the doxastic power comprehends the reasons of sensibles, knows the essence of these, and that they are, but is ignorant of the cause of their existence: the dianoetic power, at the same time, knowing both the essences and the causes of sensibles, but sense having no knowledge of either. For it is clearly shown in the Theatetus that sense is ignorant of essence, being perfectly unacquainted with the cause of what it knows. Hence it is necessary that opinion should he ranked in the middle, and that it should know the essences of sensibles through the reasons or productive principles which it contains, but be ignorant of their causes. For in this right opinion differs from science, that it alone knows that a thing is, science being able to speculate the cause of its subsistence. Sense follows opinion, and is a medium between the organ of sense and opinion. For the organ of sense apprehends sensibles with passivity; and on this account it is destroyed when they are excessive. But opinion possesses a knowledge unattended with passion. Sense participates in a certain respect of passion, but has also something gnostic, so far as it is established in the doxastic nature, is illuminated by it, and becomes invested with reason, being of itself irrational.

In this the series of gnostic powers is terminated, of which intelligence is the leader, being above reason and without transition. But reason has the second order, which is the intelligence of our soul, and transitively passes into contact with intelligibles. Opinion is in the third rank, being a knowledge of sensibles. And the fourth in gradation is sense, which is an irrational knowledge of sensibles. For the dianoetic power subsisting between intelligence and opinion, is gnostic of middle forms, which require an apprehension more obscure than that of intelligence, and more clear than that of opinion. Hence opinion must he placed next to reason, because it possesses gnostic reasons of essences, but is otherwise irrational, as being ignorant of causes. But sense must be considered as entirely irrational. For, in short, each of the senses knows the passion subsisting about the animal from a sensible nature.

Thus, for instance, with respect to an apple, the sight knows that it is red from the passion about the eye; the smell, that it is fragrant from the passion about the nostrils; the taste, that it is sweet; and the touch, that it is smooth. What then is it which says that this thing which thus affects the different senses, is an apple? it is not any one of the partial senses; for each of these knows one particular thing pertaining to the apple, but does not know the whole. Nor yet is this effected by the common sense; for this alone distinguishes the differences of the passions; but does not know that the thing which possesses such an essence is the whole. It is evident, therefore, that there is a certain power better than the senses, which knowing the whole prior to those things which are as it were parts, and beholding the form of this whole, is impartibly connective of these many powers. Plato calls this power opinion; and on this account he denominates that which is sensible, the object of opinion.


The composition of the world, therefore, received one whole of each of these four natures. For its composing artificer constituted it from all fire, water, air. and earth; leaving no part of any one of these, nor any power external to the world. For by a reasoning process he concluded that it would thus be a whole animal, in the highest degree perfect from perfect parts: that, besides this, it would be one, as nothing would be left from which any other such nature might be produced; and lastly, that it would be neither obnoxious to old age nor disease. For he perceived that the heat and cold from which bodies are composed, and all such things as possess vigorous powers, when surrounding bodies externally, and acceding to them unseasonably, dissolve their union, and, introducing diseases and old age, cause them to perish by decay. Hence, through this cause and this reasoning process, he fabricated the universe one whole, composed from all wholes, perfect, undecaying, and without disease. He likewise gave to it a figure becoming and allied to its nature. For to the animal which was destined to comprehend all animals in itself, that figure must be the most becoming which contains within its ambit all figures of every kind. Hence, he fashioned it of a spherical shape, in which all the radii from the middle are equally distant from the bounding extremities; as this is the most perfect of all figures, and the most similar to himself. For he considered that the similar was infinitely more beautiful than the dissimilar.

Besides this, he accurately polished the external circumference of the spherical world, and rendered it perfectly smooth. Nor was the addition of eyes requisite to the universe; for nothing visible remained external to itself. Nor were ears necessary; as there was nothing externally audible. Nor was the universe invested with surrounding air, that it might be indigent of respiration. Nor, again, was it in want of any organ through which it might receive nutriment into itself, and discharge it when concocted: for there was no possibility that any thing could either accede to or depart from its nature, since there was nothing through which such changes could he produced. For, indeed, the universe affords nutriment to itself through its own consumption; and, being artificially fabricated, suffers and acts all things in itself, and from its own peculiar operations. For its composing artificer considered that it would be much more excellent if sufficient to itself, than if indigent of foreign supplies. But he neither thought that hands were necessary to the world, as there was nothing for it either to receive or reject; nor yet feet, nor any other members which are subservient to progression and rest. For from among the seven species of kcal motion he selected one, which principally subsists about intellect and intelligence, and assigned it to the world as properly allied to its surrounding body.

Hence, when he had led it round according to some, in same, and in itself, he caused it to move with a circular revolution, But he separated the other six motions from the world, and framed it void of their wandering progressions. Hence, as such a conversion was by no means indigent of feet, he generated the universe without legs and feet. When, therefore, that God who is a perpetually reasoning divinity cogitated about the God who was destined to subsist at some certain period of time, he produced his body smooth and equable; and every way from the middle even and whole, and perfect from the composition of perfect bodies. But, placing soul in the middle of the world, he extended it through the whole; and besides this, he externally invested the body of the universe with soul; and, causing circle to revolve in a circle, established the world one single, solitary nature, able through virtue to converse with itself, indigent of nothing external, and sufficiently known and friendly to itself.

And on all these accounts he rendered the universe a happy God. But indeed the artificer did not produce soul, as we just now began to say, junior to body: for he who conjoined these would never permit that the more ancient nature should he subservient to the younger. But we, as being much conversant with that which casually occurs, assert things of this kind in an assimilative way; while, on the contrary, the artificer of the world constituted soul both in generation and virtue prior to, and more ancient than, body, as being the proper lord and ruler of its servile nature; and that in the following manner:

244 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 13 point font

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