Donna Adler on Plato’s Cosmology, Apr 26

by alexeyburov

Friday, Apr 26 we’ll have our regular meeting, usual place and time: Req Room (WH4NW), 12:00. Our speaker will be Donna Adler Altimari, PhD in philosophy. In her own words:

Introduction to Plato’s Cosmology: Presuppositions, Aims, Ends, Method.

In this presentation, Dr. Donna Adler will introduce members of the Fermi Philosophical Society to a classic text of the Western tradition, Plato’s Timaeus, focusing on the aims and ends of the text’s cosmological speculations, as well as the dialogue’s importance for the history of Western music theory. She will talk about Plato’s basic epistemological approach; the mathematical riddles in his work and the reasons for them; his fascination with number as a primary vehicle available to human beings in the effort to come to truth; the important role that symmetry played for him as a criterion for determining correctness in human judgments; and his effort to suggest a governmental order on the level of human community incorporating what he took to be a set of natural harmonic laws applicable to the cosmos. The scientific community, although it has come a long way from Plato’s cosmology, may recognize, in Plato, a kindred spirit in his love for mathematics and his use of it in physical speculation. The presentation should also touch upon issues of recent interest to the group, particularly the questions how the quest for mathematical beauty might lead a theorist astray and how a cosmos governed by mathematical laws can avoid determinism on a human plane. Dr. Adler will draw on her book, currently in production at Brill, entitled Plato’s Timaeus and the Missing Fourth Guest, for much of the substance of the presentation. The Timaeus is the touchstone, in Western tradition, for the basic faith persisting to this day, in physics, in the efficacy of mathematics to reveal the secrets of nature.

Everybody is welcome.