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  1. Optimality and Teleology in Aristotle's Natural Science.Devin Henry - manuscript
    In this paper I examine the role of optimality reasoning in Aristotle’s natural science. By “optimality reasoning” I mean reasoning that appeals to some conception of “what is best” in order to explain why things are the way they are. We are first introduced to this pattern of reasoning in the famous passage at Phaedo 97b8-98a2, where (Plato’s) Socrates invokes “what is best” as a cause (aitia) of things in nature. This passage can be seen as the intellectual ancestor of (...)
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  2. The Failure of Evolution in Antiquity.Devin Henry - forthcoming - In Georgia Irby (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Ancient Science, Medicine and Technology. Wiley-Blackwell.
    The intellectual history of evolutionary theory really does not begin in earnest until the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century. Prior to that, the idea that species might have evolved over time was not a serious possibility for most naturalists and philosophers. There is certainly no substantive debate in antiquity about evolution in the modern sense. There were really only two competing explanations for how living things came to have the parts they do: design or blind chance. Ancient Greek Atomism, for example, (...)
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  3. Cosmos and Perception in Plato’s Timaeus: In the Eye of the Cognitive Storm. By Mark Eli Kalderon. [REVIEW]Douglas R. Campbell - 2024 - Ancient Philosophy 44 (1):255-258.
    This is an impressive and important book about perception in Plato’s Timaeus, but most of its readers will probably be researchers who are interested in much broader questions about the dialogue. There is nothing deficient or lacking about this treatment of perception, but this book should be put alongside Thomas Johansen’s Plato’s Natural Philosophy and Sarah Broadie’s Nature and Divinity in the sense that this is, for all intents and purposes, a monograph about the whole Timaeus, even though it is (...)
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  4. What Timaeus Can Teach Us: The Importance of Plato’s Timaeus in the 21st Century.Douglas R. Campbell - 2023 - Athena 18:58-73.
    In this article, I make the case for the continued relevance of Plato’s Timaeus. I begin by sketching Allan Bloom’s picture of the natural sciences today in The Closing of the American Mind, according to which the natural sciences are, objectionably, increasingly specialized and have ejected humans qua humans from their purview. I argue that Plato’s Timaeus, despite the falsity of virtually all of its scientific claims, provides a model for how we can pursue scientific questions in a comprehensive way (...)
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  5. Cosmos and Perception in Plato's Timaeus.Mark Eli Kalderon - 2023 - New York: Routledge.
    This is an essay on perception and its objects in the Timaeus. Two features of this work are noteworthy. First, the emphasis throughout is on Timaeus' views and not Plato's. Second, I show how broader aspects of Timaeus' cosmology are directly relevant to his philosophy of perception.
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  6. Plato’s Timaeus and the Limits of Natural Science.Ian MacFarlane - 2023 - Apeiron 56 (3):495-517.
    The relationship between mind and necessity is one of the major points of difficulty for the interpretation of Plato’s Timaeus. At times Timaeus seems to say the demiurge is omnipotent in his creation, and at other times seems to say he is limited by pre-existing matter. Most interpretations take one of the two sides, but this paper proposes a novel approach to interpreting this issue which resolves the difficulty. This paper suggests that in his speech Timaeus presents two hypothetical models (...)
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  7. The Soul’s Tomb: Plato on the Body as the Cause of Psychic Disorders.Douglas R. Campbell - 2022 - Apeiron 55 (1):119-139.
    I argue that, according to Plato, the body is the sole cause of psychic disorders. This view is expressed at Timaeus 86b in an ambiguous sentence that has been widely misunderstood by translators and commentators. The goal of this article is to offer a new understanding of Plato’s text and view. In the first section, I argue that although the body is the result of the gods’ best efforts, their sub-optimal materials meant that the soul is constantly vulnerable to the (...)
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  8. The Soul’s Tool: Plato on the Usefulness of the Body.Douglas R. Campbell - 2022 - Elenchos 43 (1):7-27.
    This paper concerns Plato’s characterization of the body as the soul’s tool. I take perception as an example of the body’s usefulness. I explore the Timaeus’ view that perception provides us with models of orderliness. Then, I argue that perception of confusing sensible objects is necessary for our cognitive development too. Lastly, I consider the instrumentality relationship more generally and its place in Plato’s teleological worldview.
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  9. Located in Space: Plato’s Theory of Psychic Motion.Douglas R. Campbell - 2022 - Ancient Philosophy 42 (2):419-442.
    I argue that Plato thinks that the soul has location, surface, depth, and extension, and that the Timaeus’ composition of the soul out of eight circles is intended literally. A novel contribution is the development of an account of corporeality that denies the entailment that the soul is corporeal. I conclude by examining Aristotle’s objection to the Timaeus’ psychology and then the intellectual history of this reading of Plato.
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  10. Plato's Theory of Reincarnation: Eschatology and Natural Philosophy.Douglas R. Campbell - 2022 - Review of Metaphysics 75 (4):643-665.
    This article concerns the place of Plato’s eschatology in his philosophy. I argue that the theory of reincarnation appeals to Plato due to its power to explain how non-human animals came to be. Further, the outlines of this theory are entailed by other commitments, such as that embodiment disrupts psychic functioning, that virtue is always rewarded and vice punished, and that the soul is immortal. I conclude by arguing that Plato develops a view of reincarnation as the chief tool that (...)
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  11. Evil, Demiurgy, and the Taming of Necessity in Plato’s Timaeus.Elizabeth Jelinek & Casey Hall - 2022 - International Philosophical Quarterly 62 (1):5-21.
    Plato’s Timaeus reveals a cosmos governed by Necessity and Intellect; commentators have debated the relationship between them. Non-literalists hold that the demiurge, having carte blanche in taming Necessity, is omnipotent. But this omnipotence, alongside the attributes of benevolence and omniscience, creates problems when non-literalists address the problem of evil. We take the demiurge rather as limited by Necessity. This position is supported by episodes within the text, and by its larger consonance with Plato’s philosophy of evil and responsibility. By recognizing (...)
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  12. Before the Creation of Time in Plato’s Timaeus.Daniel Vázquez - 2022 - In Daniel Vázquez & Alberto Ross (eds.), Time and Cosmology in Plato and the Platonic Tradition. pp. 111–133.
    I defend, against its more recent critics, a literal, factual, and consistent interpretation of Timaeus’ creation of the cosmos and time. My main purpose is to clarify the assumptions under which a literal interpretation of Timaeus’ cosmology becomes philosophically attractive. I propose five exegetical principles that guide my interpretation. Unlike previous literalists, I argue that assuming a “pre-cosmic time” is a mistake. Instead, I challenge the exegetical assumptions scholars impose on the text and argue that for Timaeus, a mere succession (...)
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  13. Self‐Motion and Cognition: Plato's Theory of the Soul.Douglas R. Campbell - 2021 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 59 (4):523-544.
    I argue that Plato believes that the soul must be both the principle of motion and the subject of cognition because it moves things specifically by means of its thoughts. I begin by arguing that the soul moves things by means of such acts as examination and deliberation, and that this view is developed in response to Anaxagoras. I then argue that every kind of soul enjoys a kind of cognition, with even plant souls having a form of Aristotelian discrimination (...)
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  14. A Platonic Trope Bundle Theory.Christopher Buckels - 2020 - Ancient Philosophy Today 2 (2):91-112.
    This paper provides a rational reconstruction of a Platonic trope bundle theory that is a live alternative to contemporary bundle theories. According to the theory, Platonic particulars are composed of what Plato calls images of Forms; contemporary metaphysicians call these tropes. Tropes are dependent on Forms and the Receptacle, while trope bundles are structured by natural kinds using the Phaedo's principles of inclusion and exclusion and the Timaeus’ geometrised elements, as well as by co-location in the Receptacle. Key elements of (...)
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  15. Cohesive Causes in Ancient Greek Philosophy and Medicine.Sean Coughlin - 2020 - In Chiara Thumiger (ed.), Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception. Leiden: pp. 237-267.
    This paper is about the history of a question in ancient Greek philosophy and medicine: what holds the parts of a whole together? The idea that there is a single cause responsible for cohesion is usually associated with the Stoics. They refer to it as the synectic cause (αἴτιον συνεκτικόν), a term variously translated as ‘cohesive cause,’ ‘containing cause’ or ‘sustaining cause.’ The Stoics, however, are neither the first nor the only thinkers to raise this question or to propose a (...)
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  16. Hippocrates at phaedrus 270c.Elizabeth Jelinek & Nickolas Pappas - 2020 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101 (3):409-430.
    At Plato’s Phaedrus 270c, Socrates asks whether one can know souls without knowing ‘the whole.’ Phaedrus answers that ‘according to Hippocrates’ the same demand on knowing the whole applies to bodies. What parallel is intended between soul-knowledge and body-knowledge and which medical passages illustrate the analogy have been much debated. Three dominant interpretations read ‘the whole’ as respectively (1) environment, (2) kosmos, and (3) individual soul or body; and adduce supporting Hippocratic passages. But none of these interpretations accounts for the (...)
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  17. From Craft to Nature: The Emergence of Natural Teleology.Thomas Johansen - 2020 - In Liba Taub (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek and Roman Science. Cambridge University Press. pp. 102-120.
    A teleological explanation is an explanation in terms of an end or a purpose. So saying that ‘X came about for the sake of Y’ is a teleological account of X. It is a striking feature of ancient Greek philosophy that many thinkers accepted that the world should be explained in this way. However, before Aristotle, teleological explanations of the cosmos were generally based on the idea that it had been created by a divine intelligence. If an intelligent power made (...)
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  18. Teleology, Causation and the Atlas Motif in Plato's Phaedo.Daniel Vazquez - 2020 - Schole 14 (1):82-103.
    In this paper, I propose a new reading of Phaedo 99b6-d2. My main thesis is that in 99c6-9, Socrates does not refer to the teleological αἰτία but to the αἰτία that will be provided by a stronger ‘Atlas’ (99c4-5). This means that the passage offers no evidence that Socrates abandons teleology or modifies his views about it. He acknowledges, instead, that he could not find or learn any αἰτία stronger than the teleological one. This, I suggest, allows an interpretation of (...)
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  19. Plato's Natural Philosophy and Metaphysics.Luc Brisson - 2018 - In Sean D. Kirkland & Eric Sanday (eds.), A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press. pp. 212–231.
    This chapter contains sections titled: Going Beyond Nature in Order to Explain it Technē, epistēmē and alēthēs doxa Mathematics, pure and applied Observation and Experimental Verification Bibliography.
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  20. Os Princípios Explicativos no Timeu de Platão.Luciana Valesca Fabião Chachá - 2018 - Dissertation, Ufrj, Brazil
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  21. Physiology in Plato's Timaeus: Irrigation, Digestion, and Respiration.Andres Pelavski - 2014 - Cambridge Classical Journal 60:61-74.
    The third part of the Timaeus, where the account is focused on the cooperation of reason and necessity, has received far less attention than the opening two sections. Particularly, the description of irrigation, digestion and respiration constitutes a challenging passage that has been conspicuously overlooked by scholarly research. Virtually the only modern explanation for the passage was devised by Cornford, and despite several inaccuracies it has been unanimously accepted by all commentators. This paper will challenge Cornford’s interpretation, and use some (...)
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  22. The Spirited Part of the Soul in Plato’s Timaeus.Josh Wilburn - 2014 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4):627-652.
    In the tripartite psychology of the Republic, Plato characterizes the “spirited” part of the soul as the “ally of reason”: like the auxiliaries of the just city, whose distinctive job is to support the policies and judgments passed down by the rulers, spirit’s distinctive “job” in the soul is to support and defend the practical decisions and commands of the reasoning part. This is to include not only defense against external enemies who might interfere with those commands, but also, and (...)
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  23. A Likely Account of Necessity: Plato’s Receptacle as a Physical and Metaphysical Foundation for Space.Barbara Sattler - 2012 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 50 (2):159-195.
    This paper aims to show that—and how—Plato’s notion of the receptacle in the Timaeus provides the conditions for developing a mathematical as well as a physical space without itself being space. In response to the debate whether Plato’s receptacle is a conception of space or of matter, I suggest employing criteria from topology and the theory of metric spaces as the most basic ones available. I show that the receptacle fulfils its main task–allowing the elements qua images of the Forms (...)
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  24. Pre-Cosmic Necessity in Plato's Timaeus.Elizabeth Jelinek - 2011 - Apeiron 44 (3):287-305.
    One aim of this paper is to bring to the surface the problems with the traditional, non-literal interpretation of the pre-cosmos in the Timaeus. Contrary to this traditional interpretation, I show that Necessity is an ateleological cause capable of bringing about the events in the pre-cosmos, and that Intelligence is a teleological cause that produces effects only for the sake of maximizing the good. I conclude that there are no grounds for supposing that Intelligence is a causal force operating in (...)
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  25. Przyrodnicze i medyczne źródła myśli Protagorasa (Platon, Protagoras, 334ac) (Biological and Medical sources of Protagoras' views (Plato, Protagoras, 334ac)).Zbigniew Nerczuk - 2010 - In Adam Górniak, Krzysztof Łapiński & Tomasz Tiuryn (eds.), Studia nad filozofią starożytną i średniowieczną t. IV. Wydział Filozofii i Socjologii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. pp. 13-24.
    The paper is concerned with the medical and the biological sources of Protagoras' views.
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  26. Symmetry and asymmetry in the construction of 'elements' in the Timaeus.D. R. Lloyd - 2006 - Classical Quarterly 56 (2):459-474.
    In this paper I contend that the 'superfluity' of triangles is only apparent; all those specified are indeed required for the smallest sub-units, so long as the symmetry of the final body to be constructed is taken into account at earlier stages.
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  27. On the Use of Stoicheion in the Sense of 'Element'.Timothy J. Crowley - 2005 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 29:367-394.
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  28. What the mortal parts of the soul really are.Filip Karfík - 2005 - Rhizai. A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 2:197-217.
    The paper examines the account of the mortal parts of the human soul in theTimaeus. What is their nature? What is their relationship to the immortal part of the soul and its inner structure on the one hand, and to the body and its organs and their functioning on the other? Are they incorporeal or corporeal? What kind of movement do they have? In what sense precisely are they ‘another kind of soul’ ?
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  29. The Contents of the Receptacle.Sarah Broadie - 2003 - Modern Schoolman 80 (3):171-190.
    The Receptacle of the title is, of course, the ‘Receptacle of all becoming’ in Plato’s Timaeus. Plato likens it to a ‘nurse’, and even calls it a ‘mother’. He speaks of it as that in which its contents come to be, only in their turn to disappear from it. He compares it to a mass of gold which someone incessantly remoulds into different shape. He declares it completely unchanging: ‘it does not depart from its own character in any way'. What (...)
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  30. Why should we prefer Plato's Timaeus to Aristotle's Physics? Proclus' critique of Aristotle's explanation of the physical world.Carlos Steel - 2003 - Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 78:175-187.
    This appears in a supplementary issue of the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, entitled "Ancient Approaches to Plato's Timaeus.".
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  31. The ‘Problem of Fire’: Referring to Phenomena in Plato’s Timaeus.David P. Hunt - 1998 - Ancient Philosophy 18 (1):69-80.
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  32. Plato as "Architect of Science".Leonid Zhmud - 1998 - Phronesis 43 (3):211-244.
    The figure of the cordial host of the Academy, who invited the most gifted mathematicians and cultivated pure research, whose keen intellect was able if not to solve the particular problem then at least to show the method for its solution: this figure is quite familiar to students of Greek science. But was the Academy as such a center of scientific research, and did Plato really set for mathematicians and astronomers the problems they should study and methods they should use? (...)
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  33. Plato's Unnatural Teleology.James Lennox - 1985 - In Dominic J. O'Meara (ed.), Platonic Investigations. Catholic University of Amer Press. pp. 195-218.
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  34. Plato and Contemporary Natural Science.Richard Cole - 1977 - Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):73-78.
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  35. Timaeus on Color Mixture.Mark Eli Kalderon - manuscript
    Now with extra footnotes, by editorial demand! Final version accepted by Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy. -/- This essay consists in a trick and a potential insight. The trick consists in a minimalist interpretation of color mixture. The account of color mixture is minimalist in the sense that, given certain background assumptions, there is no more to Timaeus’ account of color mixture than the list of the chromatic pathēmata and the list of how these combine to elicit perceptions of all (...)
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