plato ontology timaeus .pdf
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Title: plato ontology timaeus
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In our former discussion I distinguished two kinds of being—the unchanging or invisible, and
the visible or changing. But now a third kind is required, which I shall call the receptacle or
nurse of generation. There is a difficulty in arriving at an exact notion of this third kind, because
the four elements themselves are of inexact natures and easily pass into one another, and are too
transient to be detained by any one name; wherefore we are compelled to speak of water or fire,
not as substances, but as qualities. They may be compared to images made of gold, which are
continually assuming new forms. Somebody asks what they are; if you do not know, the safest
answer is to reply that they are gold. In like manner there is a universal nature out of which all
things are made, and which is like none of them; but they enter into and pass out of her, and are
made after patterns of the true in a wonderful and inexplicable manner. The containing principle
may be likened to a mother, the source or spring to a father, the intermediate nature to a child;
and we may also remark that the matter which receives every variety of form must be formless,
like the inodorous liquids which are prepared to receive scents, or the smooth and soft materials
on which figures are impressed. In the same way space or matter is neither earth nor fire nor air
water, but an invisible and formless being which receives all things, and in an incomprehensible
manner partakes of the intelligible. But we may say, speaking generally, that fire is that part of
this nature which is inflamed, water that which is moistened, and the like.