Il cosmo come mezzo, il cosmo come fine: il Timeo di Platone, Empedocle e Aristotele sulla relazione tra macrocosmo e microcosmo


  • Federico Casella Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici di Napoli



Plato, Timaeus, Empedocles, Aristotle, Cosmology


The aim of this paper is to analyze the ethical relevance of the analysis of the cosmos offered by Plato in his Timaeus. In this dialogue, the study of the sensible cosmos reveals both that it depends on its noetic model and that it is a rational, ordered, perfect, and self-sufficient living being. Plato also shows how humans are closely related to the cosmos: they share the same origin and possess a similar conformation. It follows that, in order to be considered perfect, humans must imitate the characteristics of the sensible cosmos and then devote their lives to the noblest activity, the study of ideas, i.e. the intelligible cosmos. If humans abide by this way of life, their souls will reside eternally among the stars – rational divinities – after their separation from the body, and thus enjoy perpetual happiness. This paper will also consider Presocratic thought and especially Empedocles’ claim that the study of the characteristics of the cosmos and their imitation play a pivotal role in identifying the fairest human conduct. Finally, this paper will briefly examine Aristotle’s theory of teleological nature and cosmological order, so as to show any convergence or contrast between Empedocles, Plato, and Aristotle on the relationship between macrocosm and human microcosm in Archaic and Classical Greek Philosophy.