The Moral Purpose of the Human Body A Reading of Timaeus 69-72

The Moral Purpose of the Human Body A Reading of Timaeus 69-72 The Moral Purpose of the Human Body A Reading of Timaeus 69-72 1 CARLOS STEEL In a poem dating from the twelfth century, ÒFons Philosophiae,Ó Plato is represented as the great master in Physics, sitting opposite Aristotle, the authority on matters of Logic. 2 This poetical representation corresponds to the knowledge that scholars had at that time of both philosophers. Of Aristotle only the logical works were available in translation, whereas Plato was known through one dialogue, the Timaeus , in the incomplete Latin translation with commentary by Calcidius. Introducing PlatoÕs phi- losophy by starting from the Timaeus might indeed lead to the distorted view that Plato was primarily interested in physics, when in fact the intent of his whole philosophical project was always ethical-political. It is from that ethical perspective that the Timaeus too must be understood, as I shall argue. To be sure, one Ž nds in this dialogue an account of the constitu- tion of the physical world, and Plato treats here the great topics of the natural sciences: astronomy, of course, and mathematics, but also ana- tomy, physiology, biology, medicine, optics, and chemistry. In all of those domains he proves to be something of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Phronesis Brill

The Moral Purpose of the Human Body A Reading of Timaeus 69-72

Phronesis , Volume 46 (2): 105 – Jan 1, 2001

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Publisher
BRILL
Copyright
© 2001 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0031-8868
eISSN
1568-5284
D.O.I.
10.1163/156852801753733240
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The Moral Purpose of the Human Body A Reading of Timaeus 69-72 1 CARLOS STEEL In a poem dating from the twelfth century, ÒFons Philosophiae,Ó Plato is represented as the great master in Physics, sitting opposite Aristotle, the authority on matters of Logic. 2 This poetical representation corresponds to the knowledge that scholars had at that time of both philosophers. Of Aristotle only the logical works were available in translation, whereas Plato was known through one dialogue, the Timaeus , in the incomplete Latin translation with commentary by Calcidius. Introducing PlatoÕs phi- losophy by starting from the Timaeus might indeed lead to the distorted view that Plato was primarily interested in physics, when in fact the intent of his whole philosophical project was always ethical-political. It is from that ethical perspective that the Timaeus too must be understood, as I shall argue. To be sure, one Ž nds in this dialogue an account of the constitu- tion of the physical world, and Plato treats here the great topics of the natural sciences: astronomy, of course, and mathematics, but also ana- tomy, physiology, biology, medicine, optics, and chemistry. In all of those domains he proves to be something of

Journal

PhronesisBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2001

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