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A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science

Ed. by Wildberg, Christian / Morison, Benjamin

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Volume 47, Issue 2


Physical Change in Plato’s Timaeus

Brian David Prince
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  • University of Oxford – Faculty of Philosophy, Radcliffe Humanities Woodstock Road, Oxford, Oxon OX2 6GG, United Kingdom
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Published Online: 2014-04-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2012-0037


In this paper I ask how Timaeus explains change within the trianglebased part of his cosmos. Two common views are that change among physical items is somehow caused or enabled by either the forms or the demiurge. I argue for a competing view, on which the physical items are capable of bringing about change by themselves, prior to the intervention of the demiurge, and prior to their being turned into imitations of the forms. I outline three problems for the view that physical things depend on the forms for their causal powers, and show how the view I propose solves each. I then add further arguments for my view, based on (a) statements by Timaeus that seem to favor my view directly, (b) implications of Timaeus’ positions that favor the view, and (c) Timaeus’ explanatory practice in the second half of his speech

Keywords : Plato; Timaeus; causation; change; forms

About the article

Published Online: 2014-04-08

Published in Print: 2014-04-01

Citation Information: Apeiron, Volume 47, Issue 2, Pages 211–229, ISSN (Online) 2156-7093, ISSN (Print) 0003-6390, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2012-0037.

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Brian D. Prince
British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 2014, Volume 22, Number 5, Page 908

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