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Ethical Aspects of Listening in Plato’s Timaeus

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Pleasure and Delight in 80b5-8

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Plato’s Timaeus suggests two types of responses to consonances: the perception of consonance results in pleasure (ἡδονή) for fools, but delight (εὐφροσύνη) for the intelligent (80b5-8). By investigating the physical and psychological mechanisms of perception and hearing in the Timaeus, this paper argues that the pleasure and pain taken in auditory perception operate analogously to the pleasure and pain of other sensory modalities. Accordingly, the fools’ pleasure is (merely)a non-localized aesthetic pleasure of the mortal soul. Nevertheless, aesthesis of sounding material must be present to the intelligent individual in order for delight to arise: delight results from the correct perception of a sensory object as a mimesis of divine order.

Affiliations: 1: Cornell University


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1. Archer-Hind R.D. " The Timaeus of Plato " 1973 New York Arno
2. Barker Andrew Greek Musical Writings II: Harmonic and Acoustic Theory 1989 Cambridge
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12. Voegelin Salomé Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art 2010 New York Continuum
13. Wolfsdorf David "“Timaeus’ Explanation of Sense-Perceptual Pleasure”" jhs 2014 Vol 134 120 135

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