From Supremacy to Complementarity: The Evolution of Platonic Time Open Access

Kim, Hannah Haejin (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/bc386j34p?locale=en
Published

Abstract

Theology and classical philosophy's emphasis on the soul's permanence have given rise to metaphysical structures that are steeped in dichotomies, which have engendered the unfortunate consequence of lessening the appeal of the temporal, earthly life in favor of an everlasting life. It is exactly this sentiment--that temporal life or time is inherently less meaningful, noble, or valuable than eternal life or eternity--that I examine and eventually reject in my thesis. In order to do so, I analyze time's unique contribution to the wholeness of reality by tracing the philosophies of four Platonic thinkers: Plato, Plotinus, Immanuel Kant, and Alfred North Whitehead. If time offers possibilities that eternity alone cannot, and if temporality adds to the perfection of the universe, then surely our temporal lives must be an integral part of the beauty and goodness of the world.

Plato's Timaeus reveals that the birth of temporality marks the completion of the universe as the Demiurge creates time and humans to perfect the universe. Plotinus' Ennead highlights the creative urge within the soul to be the origin of time, thereby suggesting that temporality renders us potent agents that participate in the creation and renewal of the world. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason defines time as the inner form of intuition that makes self-knowledge and autonomy possible, and as the medium through which freedom manifests its significance, temporality endows our moral decisions with potency. Whitehead's Process and Reality contemplates an organic structure of reality in which every actual entity perpetually perish and achieve objective immortality through creative advance; eternity and time thus emerge as interdependent and complementary modes of being. Ultimately, Plato, Plotinus, Kant, and Whitehead's metaphysics of eternity and time, which all trace back to the Timaeus, suggest that time's significance stem from the fact that our decisions and creativity continue to mold the nature of the cosmos. It is our assured relationship with temporality that makes our experience a vital part of the essence of the world, for the flow of process and the finality of reality are harmonized in time.

Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………....….………... 2

I. Plato's Timaeus:…………………………………….…….…. 6

Time and the Completion of the Universe

II. Plotinus' Ennead iii 7…………………………………… 25

Time and the Activity of the Soul

III. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason………………… 43

Time and the Moral Agent

IV. Whitehead's Process and Reality……………… 57

Time and the Coincidence of Opposites

Conclusion………………………………………………..……...… 85

Works Cited and Consulted…………………………..…. 90

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
School
Department
Degree
Submission
Language
  • English
Research field
Keyword
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files