Ethical Aspects of Listening in Plato’s Timaeus

Pleasure and Delight in 80b5-8

in Greek and Roman Musical Studies
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Plato’s Timaeus suggests two types of responses to consonances: the perception of consonance results in pleasure (ἡδονή) for fools, but delight (εὐφροσύνη) for the intelligent (80b5-8). By investigating the physical and psychological mechanisms of perception and hearing in the Timaeus, this paper argues that the pleasure and pain taken in auditory perception operate analogously to the pleasure and pain of other sensory modalities. Accordingly, the fools’ pleasure is (merely)a non-localized aesthetic pleasure of the mortal soul. Nevertheless, aesthesis of sounding material must be present to the intelligent individual in order for delight to arise: delight results from the correct perception of a sensory object as a mimesis of divine order.



Archer-HindR.D. The Timaeus of Plato 1973 New York Arno

BarkerAndrew Greek Musical Writings II: Harmonic and Acoustic Theory 1989 Cambridge

BarkerAndrew WrightM.R. “Timaeus on music and the liver” Reason and Necessity: Essays on Plato’s Timaeus 2000 London Duckworth

CaroneGabriela Roxana Plato’s Cosmology and Its Ethical Dimensions 2005 New York Cambridge University Press

CarpenterAmber DillonJ.ZovkoM. “Embodying Intelligence” Platonism and Forms of Intelligence 2008 Berlin/Verlag

CornfordFrancis MacDonald Plato’s Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato 1975 Indianapolis Bobbs-Merrill

LeVenPauline A. The Colors of Sound: Poikilia and Its Aesthetic Contexts Greek and Roman Musical Studies 2013 1 229 242

LorenzHendrik BarneyR.BrennanT.BrittainC. “The Cognition of Appetite in Plato’s Timaeus Plato and the Divided Self 2012 Cambridge

OniansRichard B. The Origins of European Thought 1951 Cambridge

PelosiFrancesco Plato on Music, Soul and Body 2010 Cambridge

TaylorA. E. A Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus 1962 Oxford

VoegelinSalomé Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art 2010 New York Continuum

WolfsdorfDavid “Timaeus’ Explanation of Sense-Perceptual Pleasure” jhs 2014 134 120 135


Taylor 1962, 577-78.


Barker 2000, 87. Barker’s model is also adopted in Pelosi 2005, 162.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 12 12 5
Full Text Views 10 10 10
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0