The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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I suggest that any explanation of the Demiurge that has a chance of being correct must take into account the fact that he is invariably described in non-contingent terms, and the entities to which many have wished to reduce him (the world’s soul, or the rationality within it) in invariably and unambiguously contingent terms. This holds true despite Timaeus’s readiness to speak without apparent qualm of the Demiurge as either a father or a craftsman or both, or even - after the manner of Anaxagoras - to talk of him on occasion simply as Reason; whatever the variants in the overall description of him, nothing is ever said to detract from the basic assertion that he is the world’s non-contingent rational orderer, and qua rational also of course himself ensouled. To that degree he is the first instance of that psychic self-movement which in the Phaedrus Plato will later argue to be a feature of all rational soul.


Thomas M. Robinson presented “The Theodicy of the Timaeus” at the meeting of the Society with the Eastern Division in Boston in 1990. Although Tom Robinson has published quite a lot about the Timaeus, none of his essays published elsewhere seem to be the same as this one. Perhaps part of his 2004 Cosmos as Art Object is closest.

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