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Timaeus and Critias (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 28, 1972

ISBN-13: 978-0760780855 ISBN-10: 0760780854 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (February 28, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760780854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760780855
  • ASIN: 0140442618
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,489,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Greek (translation)

About the Author

Plato (c. 427–347 b.c.) founded the Academy in Athens, the prototype of all Western universities, and wrote more than twenty philosophical dialogues. Thomas Kjeller Johansen studied philosophy and classics at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is now University Lecturer in Ancient Philosophy at Oxford University and Tutorial Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford. His publications include Plato’s Natural Philosophy. A Study of the Timaeus-Critias (Cambridge 2004). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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I recommend this to anyone who is interested in the Atlantis impact on our modern day world.
Wayne J. Villines
Good rendition of Plato's books, Timaeus and Critias.
John F. Graham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By xciled on August 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Plato's Timaeus
There are a plethora of disciplines (disciples) who would wish to claim the Timaeus as their own (or at least one part or another). Plato's cosmogony seems to hold something for everyone. Even to this day zealous mathematicians and geometricians have to vie with crystal worshippers and spirit channelers to proclaim Plato's take on the Pythagorean `sacred geometry' idea relating to the make up of the universe (a bunch of triangles, apparently (p. 54-56)) as plausible and still worthy of serious study. Others search for clues within a small section of what would seem to be nothing more than a literary device (p.25)- for the secrets of the lost city of Atlantis, the story of which is related to the gathered characters by Critias as an illustration of what Plato's Republic could be, or could have been. Yet others see it as a handbook of ancient astrology (1).
Although described as a `dialogue', it really isn't. In fact Hermocrates gets to exchange social pleasantries once or twice at the beginning and is thereafter mute throughout. Critias gets a reputable monologue recounting the fate of Atlantis (p.20) before handing off to Timaeus (perhaps Timaios, a Pythagoran), the astronomy expert, who handles, with a line or two of encouragement from Socrates (p.29), the entire piece to its end.
Perhaps it was living in the shadows of the persecution, trial, and subsequent execution of Socrates that allowed Plato to lift his eyes to focus on `The Forms'.
This was his theory put forward in the `Republic' and repeated again in the `Timaeus' (p.40), that a divine craftsman created our universe.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Pythagorus on April 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
If there is one book to own, it's this one. Every night read sections 15 to 22 slowly. The rest of the book is important for other reasons, but sections 15 to 22 shaped the face of modern physics, philosophy, and religion in matters of cosmology and cosmogony. It's relevance today is still a matter of scholarly debate, but a few simple substitutions of modern terms for Plato's gives the reader a familiar set of problems, viz. those of modern physics, without being anachronistic to Plato in the least. The current "prime stuff" theory of space, is reached for by Plato in his discussion of space. The amazing success of mathematical description has its origin in Plato connecting the Platonic solids with the first theory of chemistry. Our modern notions of order and pattern emerging from complexity that we see in Mandelbrot and Wolfram are clearly stated by Plato in section 21. You'll see exactly where to place the concepts of quark or Kaluza-Klein, by careful re-reading of these sections. Of the most primary importance, is the unsolved problem of existence and reality as posed then and now. After reading it enough to know the ancient context from our modern one, of this last question one can ask just how far we have or haven't come in 2500 years.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Hager, Ph.D. on April 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
Desmond Lee, the translator of the Penguin edition of Timaeus and
Critias, claims his goal is an accurate representation of Plato's
thought, as opposed to maintaining style or convention. Indeed,
despite the purported obscurity of the original Greek, his work
plainly reveals Plato's ideas. Timaeus presents some of Plato's
clearest statements on issues related to science and psychology,
the focus of this review. Lee provides a good introduction, section
summaries, and helpful diagrams of Plato's ideas, but few footnotes
and no index. Incidentally, Timaeus and Critias introduce astrology
and the famous story of Atlantis, one of the most intriguing
mysteries in literature. Lee writes an appendix on Atlantis, pointing
out its mythical qualities, clarifying Plato's descriptions with maps,
and outlining the case for its historical origins. This edition would
be a good choice for readers interested in the source material for the
Atlantis legend and a summary of its ramifications, with a short
bibliography. The importance of Timaeus, however, is its presentation
of Plato's philosophy in its maturity, one relevant to science.
Materialism dominates Western culture today. Briefly, materialism
identifies reality as the objects that people perceive and manipulate
in their environment, or the particles that comprise them. The following
concepts fit nicely with this outlook: causality as a product of lawful
interactions among objects, reductionism where the events we perceive can
ultimately be attributed to universal laws and material particles, and
an evolutionary theory that explains the development of the universe
through natural laws from elementary particles.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Randyll McDermott on October 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Timaeus and the Critias are two dialogues written by Plato. In the Timaeus he explores the origin of Earth by means of a dialogue between Socrates and Timaeus and in the Critias, also a dialogue, he writes about the myth of Atlantis. I was suprised by how much he knew, such as that the Earth is a sphere, but also by the ignorance he had in saying that there were only 4 elements. The writing for the most part is clear, but in some places hard to follow, an example is when Plato is discussing the creation of the soul of the World. I had never read a book by Plato before and I am now interested in his other works. Those who have never read ancient philosophy shouldn't be discouraged by this book, it is a rewarding read, and not hard to understand.
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