A marvelous and breath–taking account of the creation of the universe and the related elements by Timaeus, the dialogue effectively exposes the Greek philosopher’s insight into cosmology. Believed to be a continuation of Republic, Plato’s dialogue, Timaeus – Critias also highlights two connected accounts, that of Atlantis and its defeat by Ancient Athens and that of the creation of the cosmos by the divine craftsman – Demiurge or God, a figure that is referred to as the Father of the Universe according to Platonic cosmology.
Timaeus is a theoretical treatise of Plato in the form of a Socratic dialogue, written circa 360 B.C. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world. It is followed by the dialogue Critias. The speakers of the dialogue are Socrates, Timaeus of Locri, Hermocrates, and Critias. It is believed that the Timaeus was translated into Latin by Cicero and again by Calcidius.
In this dialogue, Timaeus explains that the Kosmos is organized with a view to goodness and naturally tends to promote the good. The generation of the Kosmos was a mixed result of the combination of necessity and reason.
The demiurge, who wanted his creation to be as good as possible, looked towards an eternal and perfect paradigm while shaping the world. For this purpose, he used material that he found prior to the creation. This material was disorganized and chaotic before he imposed rational order on it. The rational order is mathematic and hence scientific. The Demiurge “put intelligence in soul, and soul in the body” in order to make a living an intelligent whole.’ For Plato, Demiurge lacked the supernatural ability to create ex nihil or out of nothing’ (Timaeus).
In the course of creation, God felt that three tribes of mortal beings remained to be created since the universe would be incomplete without them. If the world had to be perfect, then it should contain every kind of animal. Moreover, if they were created by God and received life from God’s hand, they would be on an equality with the Gods. “On the other hand, if created by me and they received life at my hands, they would be on an equality with the Gods.” (The Mysterious & Unexplained). In order that they may be mortal and the universe truly universal, God ordered the lesser Gods, Oceanus, Tethys, Phorcys, Cronos and Rhea, Zeus and Acre, to create animals imitating the power which was shown by God in creating them and in the process interweaving the mortal with the immortal. The lesser Gods, given the job of creation of man, do so by imitating the demiurge’s creation of the universe. Like him, they take an immortal soul and place it in an appropriately shaped body.
The creation of the soul of the world combined three elements – Sameness (indivisible and unchangeable, also called being), the difference (divisible and changing, also called change), and Existence, a reality which is intermediate of the first two (otherwise known as becoming)
Timaeus made a clear distinction between the physical world and the eternal world. According to him, the physical world is the one that changes and perishes.
Therefore it is the object of opinion and unreasoned sensation. Drawing at length from the discussions with fellow philosophers, Timaeus further states that the physical body is subject to disease as the flesh becomes decomposed and the blood gets stained due to the diseases the body contracts by wind, by phlegm, and by bile. When the blood is not replenished in a natural manner by food and drink but gains bulk from opposite sources in violation of the laws of nature, the body dies.
The world is a living creature, and the energy possessed by the universe is entropy. Since the energy is subject to change and gradually diminishes, the entropy would definitely experience changes.
It is indeed quite baffling that the Greek scholars substantiated and deciphered the origin and development of the universe according to their own theories of philosophy, cosmology, mathematics, and science.
The Mysterious & Unexplained. Timaeus. The Active Mind. P.5. 1996. Web.
Timaeus. (dialogue). Wikipedia. 2008. Web.