The Prometheus Trust runs fortnightly philosophy sessions in Bristol on Wednesday evenings from 7.30 to 9pm at:
Hydra Bookshop, 34 Old Market, Bristol, BS2 0EZ.
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:
23rd January: Platonic Letters on the Philosophic Life
Amongst the collection of dialogues by Plato there are 12 or 13 letters which claim to be by him: modern scholarship is undecided whether these are genuine or not, but they are close enough in spirit to the dialogues to be worth exploring. Fine Platonists such as Plotinus and Proclus quoted from several of the letters, and so the evening’s discussion will centre on those which the ancient world took as being from Plato. The second and seventh letters are especially interesting as they explore the practicalities of the philosophic life: how are we to approach the mystery which lies at the heart of reality? How do we arrive at knowledge, and what is the relationship between knowledge and the objects of knowledge? What are the demands of philosophy as regards the kind of life we live? Download the text: Letters on the Philosophic Life
6th February: Philosophy and Creativity
“But to what shall I compare the visions of a philosopher? to a clear dream by Zeus, circularly borne along in all directions; in which, indeed, the body does not move, but the soul travels round the whole earth, from earth ascends to heaven, passes over every sea, flies through every region of the air, runs in conjunction with the sun, revolves with the moon, is carried round with the choir of the other stars, and nearly governs and arranges the universe, in conjunction with Zeus! O blessed journey, beautiful visions, and true dreams!” - Maximus of Tyre
In the Platonic tradition Zeus is the great creator, calling into being the whole manifested Cosmos by his contemplation of the living paradigm which resides in the eternal and ideal world - as described by Plato in the Timaeus. So the claim by Maximus that the inspired soul “nearly governs and arranges the universe in conjunction with Zeus” is no small matter. For Plato the key to creativity requires us to discover the divine element of human nature - an element which gives us access to the various forms of inspiration which descend from the heavens. As Socrates says in the Phaedrus: “But there is a possession and inspiration descending from the Muses, which receiving a soul tender and solitary, rouses and agitates it with Bacchic fury, according to odes and other species of poetry. . . But he who approaches to the poetic gates without the mania of the Muses, persuading himself that he can become a poet, in a manner perfectly sufficient from art alone, will, both as to himself and his poetry, be imperfect; since the poetry which is produced by prudence vanishes before that which is the progeny of inspiration.” An important step in the philosopher’s art is, then, to step beyond the ordinary rational consciousness so that the reason is coloured by a brighter light: we will explore some of the insights of the various Platonic writers as they relate their own experiences of this.
Download the text: