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Plato's Dualism: The Cosmos As Active And Passive Power

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Chapter Summary

This chapter proposes a thoroughly dynamistic interpretation of Plato?s explanation of the sensible world. Plato (427?347 BC) developed, most notably in the Timaeus, a picture of the world which may be called power dualism. According to this kind of dualism, the basic constituents of reality are active and passive powers. In contrast to reason?s active power, Plato introduces the idea of irrational and passive powers?irrational in the sense of being devoid of all telos of their own, and passive in the sense of being subject to external influence. Plato?s important idea is that the generation of the orderly universe, the cosmos, is a result of a continual contest of the two kinds of powers, the active power of divine reason and the passive powers of the space. Through their combination, the cosmos receives its basic nature as a living being by which Plato understands a union of soul and body.

Keywords: active power; cosmos; divine reason; passive power; Plato?s dualism; sensible world; space



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