Volume 15, Issue 2, Spring 2011
Socrates and Timaeus
Two Platonic Paradigms of Philosophy
Plato’s Timaeus is usually taken to be a sequel to the Republic which shows the cosmological basis of Plato’s politics. In this article I challenge the traditional understanding by arguing that neither Critias’s nor Timaeus’s speech performs the assigned function. The contrast between Timaeus’s monologue and the silently listening Socrates dramatizes the philosophical differences between investigations of “the human things,” like those conducted by Socrates, and attempts to demonstrate the intelligible, mathematically calculable order of the sensible natural world, like that of Timaeus.