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The Perils of UglytownStudies in Structural Misanthropology from Plato to Rembrandt$
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Harry Berger, Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823245161

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823245161.001.0001

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Apprehension in the Timaeus

Apprehension in the Timaeus

Plato’s Nervous Narrator

(p.204) 11. Apprehension in the Timaeus
The Perils of Uglytown

Harry Berger

Fordham University Press

This chapter offers a reading of Plato’s Timaeus, a dialogue that deals with the creation of the cosmos and the human being. Timaeus elaborates on the mathematical, musical, and geometrical bases of cosmic order. In the tripartite plan of exposition, he first describes the work of reason in creating the world soul and body, time, living creatures, and the human soul. He then proceeds to the work of necessity in an account that seems barely able to domesticate a vision of elemental violence. In the third section, Timaeus shows how reason and necessity have to work together to bind and contain an unruly human creature full of the stuff of chaos, a creature whose makeup reflects the pleonexia of its origins. This chapter considers the idea that the Timaeus is “a place of doctrinal safety,” Socrates’s description of the city of Kallipolis at the beginning of the Timaeus, and how Timaeus’s account of the creation of the cosmos advances the Kallipolitan agenda.

Keywords:   cosmos, Plato, Timaeus, creation, cosmic order, reason, pleonexia, doctrinal safety, Socrates, Kallipolis

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