The TIMAEUS Myth shows the greater cosmological context of the State's ideal structure as described in the REPUBLIC. The understanding of the social Good must be framed within an understanding of the Absolute Good realized in the Cosmos as a whole, just as the individual Good IS framed within the context of the Social Good. The true statesman must have an understanding of the greater Pattern and Purpose of the Universe, because the State should imitate the Cosmic Pattern. Also, the political end is not the ultimate end, once we acknowledge the greater life of the immortal soul and its realization.
The immortal divinity of the human soul is firmly announced in the TIMAEUS, and one is challenged to Know that and to live according to it. The soul is created in the image of the Creator, Who is Good and free of jealousy that He could give us the whole of His Intelligence. The soul is a microcosm of the Macrocosmic Intelligence of the Creator. It is capable of Understanding the eternal Forms of Being, the eternal Archetypes of God and gods. The soul is capable of knowing and judging Truth vs. opinion, Harmony vs. discord, Right vs. wrong. It is the moral and epistemological vehicle of man. The soul is that God-given nature in us, which can guide us in Reason and toward Good deeds.
The TIMAEUS myth suggests two patterns of Reality. One is the eternal Pattern, ungenerated, invisible, harmonious, and in unity. The other is the changing pattern, generated, visible, inharmonious, and diverse. The eternal is generative to the changing, and the changing is how the eternal is ordering itself in time and space. Time, in fact, begins with the world of change. Space, or Matter, is the receptacle for this generation, for this impregnation of the eternal Pattern or the Ordering of the world of becoming. The Creator, Who must be also Good, desires all things to become like unto Himself so brings [His] Order to the world of change (or chaos). So the Creator is the Causative Power, Source, and Father of the created. The myth actually shows the Creator as distinct from the eternal Pattern that He fashions the universe from; but we do not need to hold onto such a literal distinction and can view the Pattern as Causative, since it does function this way.
Space, or Matter, is the Receptacle, Womb, and Mother for the Child of generation, the emerging pattern becoming from eternity. Space and Matter are really the same here, because both are formless until formed. The myth reveals a theory of matter being composed of geometric shapes of space. Space is formed by the solid body, the geometric pattern, in the same manner that Matter is formatted. In other words, a triangle forms space, pattern forms space, or one view pattern as shaping matter; so both Space and Matter, from a Platonic view, can be reasoned as the same. What is important is that the world of change is the becoming formation of Space/Matter, it is the child being generated from the Causative Source, Creator, which must be the same as, or coexistent with, the eternal Pattern that is causative. Space/Matter is the medium for generation, Creation is that in the process of generation, and the Cause is the Pattern generating the creation.
God, the Creator, made the universe in the image of eternity by setting it in harmoniously, moving order according to Number. So the universe is an image of eternity patterned by Number, or the eternal Archetypes. The universe is as a Living Being, whole and in proportion, and influenced by nothing outside it because there is nothing outside it. The apparent problem here is how the world and the people in it are imperfect when the universe as a whole is perfectly ordered.
My suggested solution to this is that the ordering of the manifested world is ongoing through time and not statically imposed at some beginning of time. The myth could very well be speaking of each moment being ordered in the image of eternity, where the myth is not about a distant past but about the eternal present. So, eternity, which is without time, past or future, makes itself imaged each moment in the world of time and space. If we are to speak of time and space and matter being shaped in the image of eternal Being or eternal Archetypes, then all of time must be used as the receptacle, as well as all space and matter; so the eternal comes into being (or image) in time and through all of it, and the bringing of Order out of disorder is eternally occurring.
Although my solution is plausible and intuitively correct, a more literal interpretation of the myth is that it is describing an eternally patterned order of fixed stars, the heavens above, the abode of the gods. But I believe this is a metaphor for the eternal Laws and Harmonious Proportions that bring the manifested world into becoming and imminently underlie this world of change. The Harmonious Pattern, Archetypes, Laws, though invisible but powerful, are what shapes the created visible world. Thus, if these Laws are eternally present as shapers of the world, the world is continually being ordered. The disorder is continually being (re)shaped by the everpresent Order (which in Itself rests in eternity). Still, the imperfections and disorder of a world being shaped by Order is a problematic paradox.
My solution is that the Ordering requires time, just as it requires space and matter. The generation of this child, Creation, is a process, an alchemical process of Purification, Correction, Perfecting, Ordering, and Realization, having its Source in the eternal Pattern. Another view of this that the Order subsists as the underlying, immanent Pattern of Creation, just as the Whole Unity of Living Being is perfectly harmonious, and this underlying Pattern or Laws needs to be realized and followed. The realization of the Harmonious Order and the actualization or imitation of It is what generates the perfection of this world, bringing It into manifested becoming.
This of course all relates to the soul, because the soul is also in a process of becoming, becoming purified and corrected, and awakened to Knowledge of its inherited Archetypes from the macrocosmic Being. The soul is evolving through its awakening to the eternal Forms, Archetypes, gods, which bring Order and Harmony to the soul, until it is finally purified and perfected by this Knowledge and then lives eternally in the realm of Perfect Harmony as one of the fixed stars (awakenings, lights). The soul, the microcosm, is the shaper of the body and also of the world. The soul which has awakened its inherent Knowledge of the eternal Pattern can thus shape the State accordingly. And thus, the soul is like a lesser god because it is creative.
The Creator gave Intelligence to the souls and gave the souls to bodies that these bodies may reflect the divine Intelligence. This is the indwelling of divinity into creation. The soul was made indivisible and divisible, meaning that it has within it the whole Cosmic Pattern but is also capable of dividing itself. The Creator framed One Living Being as a replica of Its eternal Pattern and Harmony, and this "Visible Animal" comprehends within its indivisible nature all other creatures. Thus, the Living Being unifies all souls and the divisibleness of souls.
The divisibility can be seen as the possible cause of disharmony and conflict within the soul and in the world guided by it; because if the indivisible whole of divine Intelligence is divisible, these divisions can attend to different paths, such as sensuality, war, or Wisdom. The divisibility also pertains to the individuation or differentiation of souls from the whole indivisible Soul of Creation, and this divisibility allows for individual moral freedom and diversity of manifestation. Without divisibility of the Whole there would be complete determinism and no differences in individuality.
The soul's third aspect, which is its essence, is what connects indivisibility with divisibility. The essence is that divinity contained in both, and , I believe, the essence is equivalent to the Reasoning power or the "Knowing Substance" of the soul. So, the divisible nature of the soul is never without the essence of Reason, and it is this Reason that Knows the eternal Archetypes as found within the microcosmic, indivisible nature of the soul.
myth suggests some kind of reincarnation, which can help
the differences in people's epistemological and moral
capabilities. The notion of a fixed number of souls
to earth bodies, human or animal, is a common folk (or
theory of generation and natural history. The souls are
to live as animals or human beings, depending upon some
purpose or upon the ethical history of that soul. The
for this metempsychosis, or transmigration of the soul, is
and Purification, which is a theme in other Orphic and
In Plato's myths the soul is pictured to be on a kind of Cosmic journey toward Understanding and embodying the Good in individual action and in the State. Life here on earth can be seen as both a place for moral purification and a place for divinely inspired manifestation. The soul is here, embodied, in order to further its understanding of the Good and all the Forms, and thus act in more ethical manner, which would include the moral obligation to bettering the State and educating the youth. The soul carries on its acquired Moral and Ideal Knowledge, and thus its capability for seeing and doing the Good in this lifetime.
souls are distributed among the heavenly fixed stars that
may learn the Laws and Order of the Universe. By being assigned
one of the fixed stars the individually differentiated soul is
connected to the eternal Order, and after it has satisfied
moral obligation of living on earth while serving the greater
it eventually returns, corrected and purified, to the heavenly
of the gods, to be One with the Cosmic Order.
The symbolism here relates well with the previous ideas. The distribution of the souls is the dividing of the indivisible Whole Soul, but each individual "division" is connected to the eternal fixed Order or Cosmic Pattern. The soul journeys through an alchemical process of Correction and Purification, which is brought about through Re-collection of its inherent Knowledge of the Whole; and thus, the soul eventually returns to wholeness and unites consciously with the Perfect Cosmic Order.
The TIMAEUS myth is a story about creation.
It is also about the purpose of creation and the pattern of this created world. I have suggested that creation is ongoing throughout time, just as it is pervasive through space and manifested through matter. This is a radical interpretation and divergent from the usual "static view" of Plato, but it is not at all implausible, given the metaphorical nature of myths throughout the world. I have also suggested that the pattern of eternity, or the archetypes of Being, actually underlie the changing world and are cause to its formation. The formation takes place in time, space and matter.
of this world can thus be explained in two ways. The
of the world uses all of time to unfold the Causative Forms
Pattern, and thus the perfection is ongoing and endless. Second,
greater, more whole patterns, within the gradations of wholeness,
closer to the Perfect Harmony than the lesser wholes or smaller
parts. The greater the part of the whole, the more perfect is
The more division, the less perfect.
So, freedom from the determinacy of the Whole Living Order is greater with greater divisions. As we descend further into divisions, the chaos is greater and in the final divisible elements, which is matter itself, there is complete chaos or formless-shapeless being. The work of the Causative Power or Pattern is to shape things into a moving, dynamic, harmonious order, to best reflect that Cosmic Order, and to build Good and Beauty in the Polis and in the world. This work is the function of the soul.
soul is meant to comprehend the Good, the Beautiful, the
Order of eternity, because it has Intelligence and Reason.
the soul is also divisible, which gives rise to freedom but also
so the soul must re-collect its wholeness, awaken its
Intelligence or Reason, and build a harmonious world. The
is meant to recollect its inherent Knowledge, and from this
order into the world.
The soul is in an alchemical process of purification and correction through the awakening of eternal Knowledge or the Understanding of Divine Order, which unites its divisibility with its indivisibility, or harmonizes the divisibility into an indivisibility. This is the ascent of the soul, re-collecting the Knowledge of the Archetypal Order of the Good and Beautiful, as found in the cosmic structure as well as within. And out of this re-collected soul, from this re-collected Knowledge, emerges the generated world of man's creation, the social and transformed physical environment, because the soul or understanding of man determines the shaping of his world. And the more of the Order realized within the soul, the greater the perfection of Order in the manifested world.