What is it about?

This paper deals with the relationship between being and time in two of Plato's dialogues, the Parmenides and Timaeus. The former builds on the assumption that whatever is must be temporal, while the latter makes being and time mutually exclusive. In stressing the incompatibility of these two accounts, it highlights a remarkable feature they both share. Parmenides’ argument starts from the assumption that whatever is in time must be present, past or future, whether a process or a state resulting from a process. As he advances further in the game of Zenonian antilogies, however, Plato's Parmenides reduces the dimension of the present to a mere ‘now’, conceived of as a ‘stop’ in the process of becoming, and he eventually removes from time the ‘instant’ in which a change between two mutually exclusive processes or states occurs. Timaeus, for his part, immediately rules out that the present is a temporal dimension, by restricting temporality to the past and the future. Thus, in both accounts, the present vanishes from time and temporal processes are made dependent on extratemporal conditions. Parmenides’ argument points to some extratemporal principle allowing for change, while, for Timaeus, there are two extratemporal conditions for temporal processes, namely the being of the intelligible Forms, on the one hand, and a pre-cosmic, disorderly becoming in space, on the other.

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Why is it important?

The paper contains a detailed analysis of the argument in Plato's Parmenides.


I hope this article may help understand Plato's conception of being and time as well as the relationship between his Parmenides and his Timaeus.

Filip Karfik
Universite de Fribourg

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: L’être et le temps dans le Parménide et dans le Timée de Platon, The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition, September 2022, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/18725473-12341533.
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