Eamon Ore-Giron, Infinite Regress CLXXXVIII

The Origins of the Cosmos: Plato’s Timaeus

Instructor: Bruce King
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

Undoubtedly the most phantasmagoric of Plato’s dialogues, the Timaeus imagines the most perfect cosmos—a fantastically speculative undertaking in which the claims of reason and perfection lead to strange, if not uncanny, worlds. The divine craftsman—the Demiurge—of Plato’s myth fabricates a relentlessly beautiful universe, opening up fundamental questions of Being and Becoming, sameness and difference, soul and body, orderly and wandering causes. Having set music at the center of both the soul and the cosmos, the two are depicted dancing together within the music of the spheres. But amidst this cosmology of reason and myth, mathematics and music, teleology and errancy, there is also a second craftsman at work, providing what seems to be a counter-myth of Becoming, even of imagination itself. Postulating a peculiar “receptacle”—a chôra, or “space/place” that is, bafflingly, generative of all intelligible forms—within which the second craftsman works, the Timaeus has remained a rich source of philosophical speculation into the 21st century.

In this course, we will read and discuss the Timaeus in all its dialogic complexity. Along the way, we’ll take up excerpts from related ancient texts—not only Plato’s own Republic and Critias, but also those of his musical, mathematical, and cosmological predecessors: Pythagoras, Anaximander, and Parmenides. What are the fundamental questions—about myth and science, the nature of time, harmony as the paradigm of the beautiful, teleology and the claims of Becoming, the nature of creation and imagination—that the Timaeus asks us to consider? And how do Plato’s own imaginative structures of dialogue and dialectic reflect back on these very considerations?

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
September 13 — October 04, 2023
4 weeks


Registration Open

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