Ancient Philosophy

Plato's Timaeus: Nature, Human Beings, and Human Knowledge

BAPS (Bergen Ancient Philosophy Symposium)

Main content

Invited speakers:

Daniel Vázquez og Thomas Kjeller Johansen

Plato's Timaeus is unique in at least two ways. First, this is the only text by Plato that deals in detail with nature and the world around us. Plato, our tradition's most important thinker, was otherwise part of a movement away from interest in nature and the physical world. But in this particular dialogue, he reveals a view of human beings, the world, and the connections between them that in our own time has not received sufficient attention.

Second, although the Timaeus is considered by many to be not only a demanding text in its own right, but also difficult to fit in with Plato's other works, this is perhaps the one among all Plato's texts that has had the most dramatic history of impact. Indeed, for many centuries the Timaeus was the only Platonic dialogue available. This dialogue was Plato through the Middle Ages' development of the perspective and mindset of the Western tradition.