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Timaeus and Critias (Penguin Classics) by…

Timaeus and Critias (Penguin Classics) (edition 1972)

by Plato

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Title:Timaeus and Critias (Penguin Classics)
Info:Penguin Classics (1972), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
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Timaeus and Critias by Plato

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The most famous of Raphael’s frescoes in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, the one commonly referred to as "The School of Athens," shows Plato talking with Aristotle while carrying a copy of Timaeus and pointing to the sky. Did Raphael foresee the scientific revolution that was to come over the next century, and how much the new science would reinforce ideas first expressed by Plato in Timaeus?

The scientific revolution undermined Scholasticism not by challenging theological principles or the New Testament, but by challenging the geocentric Aristotelian-Ptolemaic model that was the basis for Christian cosmology. Aquinas had been inspired by Aristotle’s emphasis on substance, properties and causes, but the work of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton described the world in terms of Platonic mathematical forms, mechanics and invariant laws of motion. Modern science has since confirmed the validity of the Platonic vision over the Aristotelian.

Timaeus is the earliest known work expressing a scientific view of the universe. Plato established a set of premises, deduced from those premises a set of propositions according to precise rules of inference, then set out to discover whether those propositions corresponded with the experience of the senses. Plato deployed mathematics to express and deduce the consequences which derived from the postulated axioms, though his mythical language obscured his methods. More than 1500 years later, his insights bore fruit. Copernicus in the early 16th c. disputed the Aristotelian cosmology with mathematical calculations, and everything from particle physics to cosmology today proceeds along lines laid down by Plato in Timaeus. Quantum field theory, as an example, can only be expressed in mathematical terms.

I read the 2008 translation by Robin Waterfield, then read the introductions to other editions by Benjamin Jowett, Peter Kalkavage and Donald Zeyl (all available as free Kindle samples). Each had something distinctive to say. The different perspectives enriched my understanding and appreciation of this complex text, as did a lecture I heard by Lawrence Cahoone at Holy Cross. It was amusing to read Jowett insist (in the 1870s) that modern readers had little interest in Plato’s cosmology, then have Zeyl in 2000 comment on the importance of Timaeus in light of advances in 20th c. physics. ( )
  HectorSwell | Apr 24, 2014 |
Transalted by Desmond Lee
  idlereader | Sep 4, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Platoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lee, DesmondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Molegraaf, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warren, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed


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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140442618, Paperback)

Taking the form of dialogues between Socrates, Timaeus, Critias and Hermocrates, these two works are among Plato's final writings. In Timaeus, he gives a thorough account of the world in which we live, describing a cosmos composed of four elements earth, air, fire and water which combine to give existence to all things. An exploration of the origins of the universe, life and humanity, which outlines not just physical laws but also metaphysical and religious principles, it remained a paradigm of science for two thousand years. The mysterious preamble to Timaeus contains the first account in literature of Atlantis, while the fragmentary Critias, unfinished by its author, provides a spellbinding description of the lost continent's ideal society, which Critias asserts was created by the god-like children of Poseidon himself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:34 -0400)

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The West is under threat. Russia has been granted sole access to the undersea Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic Ocean - home to oil reserves even greater than Saudi Arabia's. The US is determined to claim a share of the oil riches. The CIA send ex-KGB agent Anna on a mission to the brutal wilderness of Norilsk - the base of Russia's Arctic development and a new floating nuclear station. She must disrupt their plans, but Intelligence reports that a Russian group are already planning to destroy the precious power station. But why are they risking everything to sabotage their own country's resources? Is the US trying to force an outcome while keeping their hands clean? With the KGB hot on their tail, it's up to Anna and the CIA to prevent an attack that could destroy the entire Arctic region, and its oil reserves, for ever.… (more)

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