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Author: Filip Karfík


Plato’s Timaeus offers an elaborate theory of sense-perception. It is defined in terms of an opinion accompanied by irrational sensation. In humans, sensation is a physiological process occurring in the ensouled body through the agency of the mortal kind of soul whereas opinion is a judgement passed on this process by the rational kind of soul. The sensation itself is a result of the clash between different bodies defined in terms of masses of minuscule regular solids of fire, air, water, and earth, themselves composed of two kinds of triangles. Clashes between bodies cause dissolution and reconfiguration of these solids. These processes can be described mathematically but, to the human soul, they appear as different qualia. Perceptible qualia are not subject-independent properties. Nevertheless, there must be intelligible Forms of them on which true judgements about them are based.

Open Access
In: Plato’s Timaeus
Author: Filip Karfík

In this chapter, Filip Karfik presents Patočka’s interpretation of Plato’s conception of the soul. Karfik explores Patočka’s suggestions that the self-moving soul is key to understanding Plato’s philosophy—a philosophy that, correctly understood, is nothing but a doctrine of the soul—and that dialectic is the science aimed at illuminating the essence of human life. In the first part of the chapter, Karfik sketches Patočka’s overall interpretation of Plato’s definition of the soul as self-motion and of a number of topics in Plato’s philosophy that Patočka elucidates based on his views about the definition of the soul: ontology, the doctrine of the tripartite structure of the psykhē and its parallel to that of the polis, the doctrine of erōs, the program of paideia, the idea of immortality, and his physics and cosmology. In the second part, an apparent paradox in Patočka’s interpretation is addressed, namely that Patočka interprets the doctrine of the self-moving soul, discussed explicitly only in Plato’s supposedly late dialogues, on the basis of his so-called early- and middle-period dialogues, while he dismisses the discussions of this doctrine from the later dialogues as fantastic. In short, Patočka sees the genuine sense of Plato’s idea of the soul’s self-motion indicated in those contexts in which it is not expressed, while he considers the only explicit formulations of it as an aberrant elaboration on it. Despite this paradoxical character of Patočka’s overall interpretation, Karfik argues, it nevertheless possesses an undeniable persuasive power due to its capacity for explaining so many fundamental tenets of Plato’s thought from a single point of view.

In: Phenomenological Interpretations of Ancient Philosophy
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.