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TIME AS THE SOUL OF THE WORLD: A Meditation on the Pythagorean Conception of Time Author(s): John F. Miller, III Reviewed work(s): Source: Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science, Vol. 13, No. 2 (December 1979), pp. 116-123 Published by: De Gruyter Stable URL: . Accessed: 15/03/2012 11:21
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that can call we Time can exist without these units of "nothing and theseagaincannotexistwithout theregular revolutions of the we maythink of theWorld Soul measuring time watch bytherotation ofthe around theSun. motion11. as Spinozacorrectly Reality: comprehended. by forming living (agalma)."10 by timeis a measure of Aristotle as the verymotion of the sphere. as theSouloftheWorld. or the revolutions around solarsystem through Space.For Aristotle.present."inseparable and indeedidentified motion.TIME AS THE SOUL OF THE WORLD A Meditation on thePythagorean of Time Conception itwasthesoul when time that he was askedwhat was. come "into beingtogether "Heaven" to refer withitsrings.2And Plotinus from one of time as thelifeof thesoulinitsprogressing similar conceived fashion. Receptacle. to theBodyof theWorld. It was a commonplace fortheGreekthinkers to identify timewithmotion. would. months Heavencameintobeing. fromperiodic of thatworld. inPythagoras' ofWorld Timeas theSouloftheWorld: thedualism conception of polarity theDyad lies its Soul and WorldBodyis a dualism only.theEarth's revolution Now a Central Sun. and as bodyfills which "fills" Time.thecelestial Sphere the animated World thus a embodiment Soul.themovement oftheEarth on itsaxis. or World Soul and World Space. galactic time as a and to understand it is one thing to Marktime motion even byperiodic an event to occur itmeans for ofmotion.4 So too forPlato. "6 It is clear that Plato intends withthe Heaven.answered " is movement As we humans mark of thehandsaround a dial of the time bythemovement or clock. remark? ofthis world. of thecelestial clock.the inhabitation of thegods. future.forbeyond and MonadicSource."8Whereas as bodies."wewill with the time notion oftime. Or Leibniz:"Monads have no windows" is evidenced of reflection byhisimages therelationship oftheForms andtheir Consciousness and participation.have Consciousness through manifests as Space. Butifweareto understand what measure "in time"or for "fora time"or "through duration to be persistence time. and inhiscommentary andmeasured As Cornford notes movements.whatappearsto be outsideis butthe of consciousness reflection uponitsownmirror. andthe and Matter.Spirit Bodyarebuttheinside of a Single outside Deus siveNatura. SinceWorldSoul or the Self-consciousness of theOne5is but theinsideof emanates and spreads it itself itsvibratory field. Plato seemsto have understood him.identified theReceptacle9 is a necessary time condition of thephysical is buta feature world. 116 ."past. Space. as Platosaid.3 I. before the that"therewereno daysand nights.themotions heavenly Space. Space. byperiodic on Plato's Timaeus."7 Timeis divided intoits "forms. state to another. Plato writes and years."1 WhatcouldtheSamiansagehavemeant this by enigmatic in Whatever his meaning. doesnotcircularly one which needa different identify of things movement (bodies).

We usetheword"remember" doesitmean"to remember"? daily a modelwhich Can we present butdo we knowwhatit means? givessenseto the of memory? notion 117 . part hisdivine God's write of Christian and other predestination.'becauseall things sphere this view as both ' "archaic"and "naive. a poorplayer Life'sbuta walking shadow. havealready to comeinphysical areyet space-time from Aeneid or of Homer's Iliad Virgil's Readers of Fateor Destiny. andAugustine thedaysofAristotle from leastto most philosophers.identified maintained that TimewastheSouloftheworld. of thePythagorean conception understanding III. Signifying with or perhaps. In the Aeneas. The events which of divination. Butwhatof "thepast"? What difficulties. in theWestto themostpopular and philosophy Fromthedawnof literature was has considered lifea playwhosescript mankind and contemporary fictions. no insurperable "thepresent" presents inourdiscourse. and of Achilles the these of thevery "destiny" epics. lies in an willmakesenseof theseclaims?The answer. scrolls know. II. Calypso. If of theAbsolute? drama or even. beginning or from in will unfold which learns the events one life. as of Andifitis.The Stoicphilosopher to tells us Epictetus thatthouart an actorin a playof such a kindas the Remember to actwellthe is your Forthis teacher duty. theologians Augustine that the Bard writes in his and Macbeth foreknowledge.fullof soundand fury. which mulated of Timeas theSoul of theWorld. Odysseus' Odyssey was of in The fate Hades. to thepresent." written? so. nothing. methods written and knowable byvarious already on the as itwere. can itbe "read ahead time. as such diverse and global predictions withprophesy fascination groups the by sumare whose views Christians and fundamentalist popularly Caycefoundation fortime be of notion an Can Earth! in Planet The Late Great marized adequate I think.a Divine Comedy. hishouruponthestage and frets Thatstruts Andthen is heardno more.13 the to to but select is that belongs part.a cosmic Dante. (author) maychoose to another. Plato's Er we learnthatsoulschoosetheir and from hisbirth. of Tieresias met or the shade Oedipus Sophocles' theancient sageswouldlead us to believe. Is lifea play. beenrecorded. onlytwoare problematic: "parts" of time. given you." But Aristotle dismissed sphere/'12 of to thisconception and significance For it is possible to givecontent wrongly! time. actually Pythagoras ' withtheheavenly are in Time and also in the itself.It is a tale Told byan idiot. At Of thethree past ana future. sealedevenbefore intothephysical their next reincarnation livesbefore plane. is the"script"already inastrology interest thecurrent haveclaimed? and prophets seers wide-spread Why the And national? and both local of astrology and theproliferation why columns.with Hegel.

Nirvana. and Satori.planetary.morethanthoseevents claim thatit is possibleto remember Some philosophies and his present.thatAll-inclusive the level of Reality which Orientals identifyvariously as Self-consciousness. whichhave occurredin thebriefspan betweenan individual'sbirth their past lives Amongthemostfamouswho claimedto have been able to remember were Krishna and Pythagoras. The open-ended oval of thesubconsciousmind thecontent thatas a lifecontinues. (Figure 2) 118 . levelof cona higher or diagramto represent One could allow the same figure let us allow the line composed of the seriesof sciousness.theopendots to represent theliveswhichhave been lived. galactic. for that matter. Beyondthiswould lie the Consciousnessmaybeevenbeyond Consciousnessof theAbsolute.Assumingreincarnation. and allow thisto represent in thatlevelof consciousness life. solar. imaginean open oval to represent which these events are "stored": the subconscious mind. representation suggests of is enlarged. Jung's "Universal Unconscious" and Eastern theosophy's "causal body" or "superconsciousmind" are possible candidatesforthe "storehouse" of memories with from one's past incarnations. national. Let us.So." in boththenormaland the extendedmeaningof the term? I INDIVIDUALLIFE Figure1 Figure2 a Let us envisiona linecomposedof a seriesof dots. further.(Figure 1) To "remember"would thenbe explainedas the focussing an individual'sconsciousnessupon a particularitemor eventin his subconscious mind. Recent experimentation by psychiatrists to theseclaims.each dot signifying ended oval would then depict the individual's superconsciousmind or "causal body" in which"memories" of past lives are "stored.and universal (perhaps.theconsciousnessof theWorld Soul). a life.did General George Patton. Can a thattheremay be some truth "regressive hypnosis"suggests model be proposedwhichwillmake senseof "memory." levelsof stillhigher ovals we could suggest evenlarger open-ended By imagining consciousnessbeyondthe individuallevel. Sunyata.

thecompositelifeof a nation. individualpersons. and will be are given for a particular of is of a man of ray lightemanatingfromthe EternalSource of images mystical is neither the imaginemany such strangenor unusual. And one mustdenyas fantastical counselling claim to be able to see the finalformin a seed.just suppose. whatdoes one make of premonimere to be able to see intothe future Are theclaimsof yogis14 tionsand prophecy? dismiss theideas of thesages that Does one simply or self-delusion? wishful thinking of evidencefromastrology. hypnotic "reliving.Since one of the have been. lifeis a play. too. dividualconsciousness partof the Eternal 119 . Can we make sense of thisnotion? Let us try.Taking these to an adequate conceptionof Time. lives of the to and of represent subgrouped. thepresent. of an to some in seem time" back philosophers may grammatically though"going bias. and shall past/present/future be alreadyexistsin the EternalPresentof the Divine Consciousness. they have asserted that divisionof timeis an illusion.First. centuries and of the sketches draw did not Vinci do di helicopter. Further. individual upon whichinas that and thefuture. an idea whichdoes theclairvoyant's But suppose . Imaginea beam of light. grouped rays as meaningless? to be rejected and Divineforeknowledge thatLeonaran and Nostradamus a embarrassed Edgar Cayce. is.forall thathas been." as memories. and pretend silence. and otherformsof divination?Are the theologicalconceptionsof predestination And does one pass over.and empirically factually meaningless. withinwhichall eventswhich individual. diagrammatical IV.theyhave claimedthatGod. "the past" is capable of being "replayed. and second.Or like eventsare "captured" on film. Preciselyhow "the past" is "stored" has modelsare available. as "present" to another dimensionof consciousness. is Light. bicycle precise idea thatthe truth to must One on Earth? beforetheir Hegel's denyany appearance Natureand in time in space through and manifests Idea or Reason existseternally throughthe activityof Spirit in history. From thesediagramsone can readilysee thatit is possibleto conceiveof the past as simplythat part of the Eternal Present which the consciousnessof the as thatpartof theEternalPresent has passed.givenwhollyat once. conception Light. or World Soul in this case. notseemforeign does exist.thoughvariousfamiliar be storedin ways similarto which"information"is storedin a computer.thesediagramsor two-dimensional In so faras one can understand models. and ignorethe concurrence numerology. levelsof planetary.But howeverit is stored. let us conceivea model claimsas foundational of consciousnessas light. and cosmic life. must Plato have been in journeysto the realmof the Forms. the notionseemsto be coherent.For whatis suggested analyticand linguistic maybe "the present"from bythediagramsis that"the past" fromone perspective a higherand more inclusiveperspective." " and to "go back in how it would be possible both to remember can understand incoherent time. have oftenmade two claimswhichare of fundamental like Pythagoras Mystics how Time maybe conceivedas theSoul of to understand in anyattempt importance theWorldand how "the future"maybe known. But can one "travelinto the future"?If not. are.or music "recorded" on a record."and similarphenomenasuggest. "The past" might not been discussed.and thehigher solar.that"the future" evento Aristotle. is now focussing.Wrong." Cognitively nonsensical.

representing the within and solarunits planetary.) Figure4. Bhagavad forthecauseof suffering.Present thefocusof theindividual has yetto fall." ofconsciousness To grow andevolve wouldbe to movethefocus nearer to theSource. remedy according is an extended (Figure#3 turned #1. grouped national.drawing be would to to moment: a while! rectly comprehended. Figure vertically) Figure3. many (Figure representing and subgrouped. then.vairagya. say anypassing "Linger Thou art so fair!"15 the mostimportant forman's spiritual virtue Accordingly. lives. is non-attachment: fortheyogis.the Odyssey apatheia. alongtheRay. tradition.forthe Stoics. is Figure Consciousness turned vertically. to the Buddhists. of the entire ethical theme within the and the Hindu Gita.Spiritual as Goethe cordeath."To exattention uponwhich would be "to focus or direct the attention perience" partsof the upon different Eternal Present. 120 . #2 of theWorldSoul. individual #4.

Socrates defines the Platonic Moreover. Again and again. noetic levels of Reality. themind(dianoia).To possess knowledge.18 and errs"17 inglyand knowingly of dying. thantheobject beingknowablethrough rather afterhim. In epistemology.the releaseand separaand nothing tion of soul frombody.journeysinto trips Symposium. 121 . interpreted transferring experiencing thefocal point of consciousnessto a level of awarenesshigherthan the physical world. sometimes extremelylong yogic trances. turn.not thelifeof thebody. and Socratespracof the soul is the lifebeyondthe space-time meditatices "death" by participating consciouslyin the soul's awarenessthrough tion.16 to the here is or recollection. respectively. is recollection in than the doctrines of tue is knowledge".The importance of this conception of Time for understandingPlato's Major tenetsof Platonic epistemology. philosophycan hardlybe underestimated.19 To love wisdomis to love thesoul and itslife. as we are told in the Symposium. and ontology. Such a journey. as well Realms: thePlanes of reflection. confersa noeticqualityto experience:knowledge ticularly to beingconscious at these then. Thus it trulyfollows that knowledgeis recollectionor tantamount (episteme). "philosophy" as the practicing or separationof soul frombody": "a releasing forthisreleaseare. consciousnessof the Eternally remembrance. According interpretation (episteme) remembering be or reunderstood as or recollection may reliving presented.however.Now it should be clear why ν.and the participation the immortality in the Receptacleof space and matter? Let us briefly address an Odyssey siousnessof whatis. the Forms. as Alcibiades related in the out of thebody-tomb Such meditative (soma-sema).and in the Republic and elsewhere withthatstate of awarenessin whichthe object was knownimmediately (noesis). that knowledge We learn fromPlato. Plato believedthat "no one willlike Socratesbeforehimand Aristotle that no one errs in that whereinhe is wise.whatmorebasic thanthedictim that"viror remembrance.which. so we mainMoreovertheythatstrive unceasingly that than those none other tain.and ontologyare illuminated by thisPythagorean insight thatknowledge Time.parsuch transferring to the SpiritualPlanes. whatis morecentralthanPlato's insistence in ethics. in of this these Platonic doctrines ourselvesto light Pythagoreanconceptionof eitherthe Astral or Mental Planes or to one of the Spiritual space-time For Plato. an ever-expanding Cave.are recommended of the theanalogies of theSun and Divided Line and theallegory Republicthrough of conof Love.Truth. In ethics. into the natureof ethics.indeedthis pursuephilosophy else is the philosopher'sconcern.and Goodness. in the the realmof the Sun and the higherstages of cognition. The life of physicalbodies.what more fundamental of the eternal of the eternalsoul. in thesehigherdimensions of consciousness.only as forthose capable of traveling of the focus of consciousnessto thesemore inclusivelevels.remembering in has idea or been as the event. aright. in places too numerousto mention. Plato maintained throughouthis life that virtue (arete) was he identified knowledge knowledge(episteme).

Faust. As Plotinusunderstands. Goethe. Theaet. Tim. is the Consciousnessof the World Soul. 3. is one and the same" (Fr. Time. Diels.the remember. XVII. Cornford. 13ff.ed. iv. 45B. 7." line 176 in WorldMasterpieces//. Ill. Hugo.III of Philosophy. The single influence of Pythagoras may be seen in the dichotomous philosophies of "all things are one" (Plat.Platonic Questions. 2. the World emanatesfromthe One throughIts awarenessof Itself. The Encheiridion. To love is to the sheddingof theirimages or reflections.20 JohnF. Knox McGalliard. past/present/future. Department NorthTexas State University. 8. 37E. 60). 1957).p. there to thenoeticregionof theSun. 15. 5. 1973). Notes 1. Wellek.Plato's Cosmology(New York: The Liberal Arts Press. 38B. 14. also the interesting experience Patanjali. 180D) and Heraclitus. 33.creating. 9. Tim. Cornford. Cf. 11. 122 . Vors. Enn. 37D. 103. to know is to worldsreflected illusory to remember is to see. 10.the veryword coined by Pythagorashimself inloverof wisdom. 52A.W. Miller. 223b. 4. Kirkof "Star Trek. Norton& Co.. "Faust's Study.44 ." in The Fifty psychiatrist Minute Hour. Part I. Soul of the World. 12.Pasinetti. as Pythagorasso wiselyremarked. Yoga-sutras witha patientwho claimedto be the real a lover. 11. a the philosopher". Tim. 16). 102. FrancisM. and to see is to be in the Eternal Present. 430. theconsciousness and the Forms as the Ever-Present Time all things.a traveler love beyondtheCave of physicalspace-time through to viewin of theWorldSoul. p. Tim. 13. paradigmatic in the Receptaclebelow."the path up and down Parmenides. of an American (VibhutiPada. 7.and Douglas (New York: W. Plutarch. the prisms. Mack. 6. Phys.

Apology 25D. Cf. Mexico. Edthy. 5O9E. 20. Meno 81. 358D. 18. 247-249. Phaedrus 245. 17. 357D. Meno 77-78. 1979. Laches 199. Theatetus149-151. Phaedo 72. 67.26A.16. 123 .in Chihauhua. Protagoras 345D. PAúrec/o Texas Philosophical to theannual meeting of theNew Mexico/West This paper was presented Society. 19. 280. Gorgias 488a. on April 8.