By G.H. von Wright
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Extra resources for Causality and Determinism
And so he makes the world like the Idea of animal qua standard. And he does this by making but one instance of the Idea, since uniqueness is a formal property the presence of which makes standards serve better as standards. He, therefore, makes the World-Animal-ingeneral one of a kind. It should be noted that this line of argument only gives a reason why the World-Animal is unique. It is not an argument which explains why the World-Animal is stretched throughout and encompasses the whole of the corporeal realm (Timaeus 34b3-4, 36e2-3).
Some of these earthly paradigms turn out, as in the Timaeus, to be the parts of time: "days," "nights," "months," "years," and "other stars" (530a7-8), by which designations it is clear, especially given the 11 The usefulness of these artificial models is not restricted to their serving simply qua paradigms, that is, making possible the identification or production of further particulars by reference to them. They are also useful in coming to understand the models of which they themselves are instances.
But conditions of gradual extinction aside, given the reproductive nature of animals, if you have any of a kind, then you have more than one of that kind. For Plato, however, reproductive capacity is not an essential attribute of animals (see 90e-91a). Indeed at 42a-c, Plato makes one;s gender derive from one's morals, rather than from biophysical considerations. Plato leaves the World-Animal utterly sexless (33b-34a), at least in part perhaps to get around the sticky metaphysical difficulty with which our ordinary conception of gendered animals would confront his uniqueness argument.