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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
17th July: Myth and Reason: Prometheus appears in the Philebus
In the Philebus Socrates and the other characters discuss the problems presented to us as thinkers which arise because everything is both one and many. In responding to this, and in order to promote the systematic reasoning of dialectic, Socrates refers to the myth of Prometheus and the stealing of the fire of heaven: this is, perhaps, not what the reader would expect. Why a mythic approach? And why this particular myth? We’ll read the section of the dialogue where this occurs, summarize the myth itself and explore the interplay between reason and myth with the help of some of Damascius’ interpretations taken from his lectures on the dialogue.
Download the text: On Prometheus in the Philebus
31st July: Philosophy and mystical initiation
In the ancient world an important complement to civic religion (largely exoteric in character) were the more esoteric mystery cults which addressed the relation between the individual self and the Gods, and which offered participants a direct experience of the divine drama which underlies all life. Plato linked philosophy with these mysteries both implicitly and explicitly, as did many of those who followed him in the ancient world: the transformative experience of true philosophy being seen as similar to that of mystical initiation. We’ll read some of the passages from Platonic texts where this subject is explored, and discuss the insights offered by this now profoundly neglected area of philosophy.
Download the text:
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: