The Prometheus Trust runs fortnightly philosophy sessions in Bristol on Wednesday evenings from 7.00 to 8.30pm at:
St Paul’s Learning Centre
94 Grosvenor Rd, Bristol BS2 8XJ
Further details from email@example.com or phone 01594 726296
These evenings include short talks and/or readings from Platonic writings – but we hope they will be genuinely interactive, with all participants invited to contribute to our collaborative search for truth. No previous experience of formal philosophy is required.
Admission is free, but we do encourage those who are able to donate between £2 and £3 in order to cover our costs.
Most of these evenings are self-contained and every effort is made to make them accessible to the newcomer, while allowing the great profundity of the Platonic tradition to step forward and speak to us at whatever level our present understanding sits. Some of these sessions are coupled together, in order to give us the space to examine more fully particular texts and themes, but even here we will ensure that if those attending have missed the first of the two sessions a recap of what has gone before will help all participants to pick up the main threads of the theme.
We will make available (as a PDF download) the text we are studying, well before the date of the meeting.
The Trust has run similar activities for some 18 years, and in our experience they allow the most profound questions concerning human life, the nature of reality, and our interactions, to be explored at once both seriously and with good cheer. Our aim is to provide a forum for honest and straight-forward enquiry, but which is unafraid to explore inward-moving paths too often neglected by modern schools of thought.
Upcoming sessions in 2019:
7th August: The Sun, sight, intellect and transcendency
The usual view of Plato’s philosophy is that it postulates two orders of reality: an immaterial order in which eternal ideas abide unchanging yet dynamic; and a temporal and material one in which those ideas are manifested in a series of ever-changing instantiations. The contents of the first order are perceptible only to the mind, the contents of the second perceptible to the sense. But there are places in the Platonic dialogue where speakers explore the source of this twofold reality – a single, transcendent starting point which at best can only be grasped by analogy. One of these explorations in to be found the sixth book of the Republic, where Socrates calls this first Principle “the Good” – we will read this passage, and discuss the profound implications which Plato puts forward for our consideration.
Download the text: The Sun, sight, intellect, transcendency
21st August: Plato’s Cave
One of the most intriguing and influential passages of Plato’s writing is that known as the Cave: it is told by Socrates in the seventh book of the Republic. The story compares our present understanding and its possible development with a group of people who have lived all their lives in a cave; they are chained to benches in such a way as to prevent them turning their heads, and so all they can see is the wall at the end of the cave. Behind the prisoners is a fire and a low screen behind which move people carrying statues on their heads - the effect is that on the wall in front of the prisoners is cast a procession of shadows which they take to be the whole of reality. In the story one of the prisoners escapes his chains and leaves the cave to discover an order of reality both unexpected and dazzlingly bright. . . .
Download the text: The Cave
25th September: Plato on Justice
A recurring theme in the dialogues of Plato is the profound relationship between the human self and justice: all ten books of the Republic are dedicated to the examination of this relationship, and although the speakers often turns aside to explore other issues, the central theme is never far away. Towards the end of the dialogue, Socrates says that the most important thing to study is the good life and that, having an eye to the nature of the self, we should comprehend “both the worse and the better life, pronouncing that to be the worse which shall lead the soul to become more unjust, and that to be the better life which shall lead it to become more just, and to dismiss every other consideration.” We notice that the point of focus here is the soul (psyche) – that invisible something that is understood to be the unific seat of selfhood, which gives life to the body, and which has the power to know and to make choices. It is on this understanding that all the important ethical principles of Platonic philosophy are based.
We’ll read an extract from the Gorgias which puts forward profoundly challenging consequences to this soul-centred view of life and its ethical dimensions, and discuss our understanding of the issues raised.
Download the text: Justice in the dialogues of Plato