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The Cause of the Origin of the World is the Goodness and the Demiurge's Goodness

360 b.C.

Timaeus, 29 E - 31 A

The text is one of the most representative pages of the conception of nature as a living being, quite widespread in the classical thought. Timaeus, conversing with Socrates, explains how the Artificer is the Cause of the Universe and describes the world as a living being “endowed with soul and reason”, and generated by god. The world would therefore be “a Living Creature, one and visible, containing within itself all the living creatures which are by nature akin to itself.”

Timaeus - Let us now state the Cause wherefore He that constructed it [29e] constructed Becoming and the All. He was good, and in him that is good no envy ariseth ever concerning anything; and being devoid of envy He desired that all should be, so far as possible, like unto Himself. This principle, then, we shall be wholly right in accepting from men of wisdom as being above all the supreme originating principle of Becoming and the Cosmos.

[30a] For God desired that, so far as possible, all things should be good and nothing evil; wherefore, when He took over all that was visible, seeing that it was not in a state of rest but in a state of discordant and disorderly motion, He brought it into order out of disorder, deeming that the former state is in all ways better than the latter. For Him who is most good it neither was nor is permissible to perform any action save what is most fair. As He reflected, therefore, He perceived that of such creatures as are by nature visible, [30b] none that is irrational will be fairer, comparing wholes with wholes, than the rational; and further, that reason cannot possibly belong to any apart from Soul. So because of this reflection He constructed reason within soul and soul within body as He fashioned the All, that so the work He was executing might be of its nature most fair and most good. Thus, then, in accordance with the likely account, we must declare that this Cosmos has verily come into existence as a Living Creature endowed with soul and reason owing to the providence of God. [30c]

This being established, we must declare that which comes next in order. In the semblance of which of the living Creatures did the Constructor of the cosmos construct it? We shall not deign to accept any of those which belong by nature to the category of “parts”; for nothing that resembles the imperfect would ever become fair. But we shall affirm that the Cosmos, more than aught else, resembles most closely that Living Creature of which all other living creatures, severally and generically, are portions. For that Living Creature embraces and contains within itself all the intelligible Living Creatures, just as this Universe contains us and all the other visible living creatures[30d] that have been fashioned. For since God desired to make it resemble most closely that intelligible Creature which is fairest of all and in all ways most perfect, He constructed it as a Living Creature, one and visible, containing within itself all the living creatures which are by nature akin to itself. [31a]

Source of the English digital text: Perseus Digital Library at the Tufts University