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Plato's Timaeus: Science, Politics and Morality


Admission requirements

Introductory level knowledge of ancient philosophy.
à la carte-studenten hebben alleen toegang tot deze cursus met toestemming van de docent.


In this seminar we embark on a thorough reading of Plato’s famous dialogue the Timaeus (in English translation). On the surface it is one of the two most influential creation stories in Western history (the other being the book of Genesis in the Bible). A closer look reveals that the dialogue spells out the conditions of Plato’s politics, describes the mathematization of the physical world, and addresses the vexing question how autonomous material processes still leave room for morality. Apart from important issues of interpretation we shall look at famous instances of reception in later philosophy and art of this emblematic dialogue.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2013-2014 , BA Wijsbegeerte (BA Plus-traject of Standaardtraject), 3e jaar.
See Timetables Philosophy 2013-2014 , Timetable Undergraduate Courses in English

Mode of instruction


Course load

Hours in class (14 × 3): 28 hrs
Weekly preparation (14 × 6): 84 hrs
One presentation in class: 34 hrs
Writing three short papers: 120 hrs
Total course load: 280 hrs

Assessment method

  • Participation in the seminar (25%)

  • At least one presentation in the seminar (25%)

  • End of term paper (50%)


Blackboard will be used for posting of instructions, texts and information.

Reading list

  • Plato. Timaeus and Critias. A new translation by Robin Waterfield with an introduction by Andrew Gregory, Oxford World Classics, Oxford 2008.

  • T.K. Johansen, Plato’s Natural Philosophy. A Study of the Timaeus-Critias. Cambridge 2004.

  • Materials on Blackboard.

Dutch students can also use the translation in X. de Win, Plato , deel 5, herziene editie, Kapellen 1999.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens

Exchange students and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply. See also Registration for courses and examinations

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs

Contact information

Prof.dr. F.A.J. de Haas