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Author: Chad Jorgenson

Abstract

This paper explores a tension in the account of human responsibility given in the Timaeus. In his description of divine causality in the first section of the dialogue, Timaeus denies that the gods bear any responsibility for the evils that befall human beings, arguing that the responsibility lies rather with them. However, in his account of human badness in the third part of the dialogue, Timaeus appears to contradict himself, claiming that environmental and genetic factors are responsible for an individual becoming bad, rather than their own agency. In fact, a close analysis of Timaeus’ language reveals that he is proposing a nuanced theory of causality and responsibility that goes beyond a simple opposition between free will and determinism to give a rich account of the various ways in which we can be held causally responsible or not for our actions.

Open Access
In: Plato’s Timaeus
Proceedings of the Tenth Symposium Platonicum Pragense
Plato's 'Timaeus' brings together a number of studies from both leading Plato specialists and up-and-coming researchers from across Europe. The contributions cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from the literary form of the work to the ontology of sense perception and the status of medicine in Timaeus' account. Although informed by a commitment to methodological diversity, the collection as a whole forms an organic unity, opening fresh perspectives on widely read passages, while shedding new light on less frequently discussed topics. The volume thus provides a valuable resource for students and researchers at all levels, whether their interest bears on the Timaeus as a whole or on a particular passage.