A commentary on Plato's Timaeus, - download pdf or read online

By A.E. Taylor

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Birds 450–60) and persuades the birds (his name is Pisthetairos, 'the persuader’) to cooperate with him and take advantage of their strategic position. Free of the constraints of civic space he is able to control it without taking part in it, since he is able to influence the apolitical space upon which humans depend for their survival (Birds 572–80). At the same time he takes control of the channels of communication and exchange between men and gods; thus he gains an advantage over the latter who, in Aristophanes’ play seem to depend upon humans’ sacrifices no less than humans depend upon their good will.

Thumos is a necessary element in the life of the city, without which there could be no warriors (Rep. ) and no city could maintain its integrity. The story of Leontius shows thumos as a mediating element between reason and desire, a way to control the bestial and subject it to the reign of the divine in man. Reason by itself is not enough to channel desires toward a human existence; the power of thumos is required for this. Thumos belongs to the very contours of man; though man shares it with the animals it is also the condition for the possibility of overcoming the bestial in him.

Plato challenged this formation in more than one point, but nevertheless played within its general outline. In his myth of Er (as well as in the myth of the Phaedo and following an established tradition in Greek discourse) he turned death from the ultimate end of life into a transitory stage between lives. Yet that radical challenge to human mortality does not affect the structure of the movement possible when a transgression occurs. Death, which is not an end, by definition involves the crossing of a demarcating line, and therefore a transformation.

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A commentary on Plato's Timaeus, by A.E. Taylor

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