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“Living Philosophic Traditions”

29 June - 1 July 2018


Previous year’s conferences: click here

For full details of the conference programme, click here

Living Philosophic Traditions

What does it mean to live within a philosophic tradition?  Does a conscious acceptance of our place within a tradition enhance both the tradition itself and our own living philosophy? Do we have obligations to any tradition from which we learn? How does a tradition avoid fossilization? How do we receive elements of a tradition from many generations back, and how do we hand on our understanding of them to future generations?

We are all familiar with the concept of a global society in which we communicate with our contemporaries across boundaries of culture, religion, philosophy, as well as those of the nation state, and we are ever more conscious of its rewards and its dangers. But what of the communion with generations passed and those to come?  Are there greater rewards and pitfalls in our dealings with the transgenerational society?

One thing is certain: we cannot opt out of tradition - it supplies us with a vast store of insights, concepts and assumptions together with works of art, languages, material wealth - all of which we hand on in varied ways to those who are to follow us. The problems we confront today have largely arisen from our inheritance, and our search for intelligent responses to them will, no doubt, involve us in a recovery of the wisdom that lies half-hidden in the same inheritance.

This conference welcomes papers on all aspects of this theme: the interaction of theory and practice; the personal experiences of contributors who are consciously aligning themselves with particular philosophical traditions; studies of those individuals or schools who have attempted to strengthen or revive traditions; questions of literacy and orality; of inclusivity and exclusivity; of new technology; of the generation of new traditions and the corruption of old ones; of individuality within philosophical communities and their traditions; teacher-pupil interaction within traditions; the place of art in reinvigorating and passing on traditions; and much more besides.The Prometheus Trust centres itself on the Platonic tradition, but is keen that the conference attracts those who are exploring and speaking from other traditions.  As usual, the Trust welcomes abstracts from academics and non-academics, specialists and non-specialists.


Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should be sent to at the latest by Friday, 13 April 2018. Acceptance of these will be confirmed as quickly as possible.

Papers should be around 2500-3000 words or 20 minutes’ presentation (we usually allow a further 15-20 minutes for a question and answer session after each presentation).

Bookings should be received by us not later than Saturday, 28 April 2018.

Accommodation: The conference will take place at Purley Chase Centre, Mancetter, near Atherstone in Warwickshire, which is comfortable and well appointed.  Residential prices are for full board for the weekend (from Friday supper to Sunday tea) and are 135 (single ensuite), 125 (shared twin ensuite) and 105(dormitory); non-residential price to include all meals except breakfasts is 40. Participants are encouraged to attend for the whole weekend and there are no reductions for partial attendance.  There is limited ensuite accommodation available and a few delegates may be asked to share. If you are a student or on a low income and cannot afford these charges, please contact the Treasurer in confidence ( to apply for a bursary. 

Conference fee: This charge is 40 and is payable with your booking. It is non-refundable in the event of cancellation. Accommodation fees are payable by the end of May.

For further details phone 01594 726296 (or +44 1594 726296 from outside the UK) or write to 7 Pine Crest Way, Bream, Lydney, Glos, GL15 6HG, UK or email

Booking forms are available from the Conference Secretary at the above address or phone number or download here:PDF format: Conference 18 - Booking Form-PDF   WORD format:  Conference 18 - Booking Form

The conference will be opened formally on the evening of Friday 29th, with a keynote address:

Being the Dialogue: Buddhist interrogations of the Socratic Persona

Sara Itoku Ahbel-Rappe

In this address, I will create a dialogue between the Socratic persona in Plato's dialogues and figurations of the Buddha or Buddhist philosophy in Sanskrit, Pali, and contemporary Zen Buddhism. This approach captures my own practice of Buddhism for the past forty years together with a lifelong engagement with the Platonic tradition. In the talk, I discuss how Buddhist practice has influenced my reading of the figure of Socrates and offer some examples of this reading, including interpretations of the Apology, Parmenides, Theaetetus, Charmides, and Republic.

Sara Itodu Ahbel-Rappe is Professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan. Her publications include Reading Neoplatonism(2000), Socrates: A Guide for the Perplexed (2009), a translation of Damascius’ Doubts and Solutions Concerning First Principles (2010) and Socratic Wisdom, Platonic Knowledge (2018).

On the Saturday evening the thirteenth annual Thomas Taylor lecture will be given :

Presence and Absence in Platonic Dialogues and our relation to philosophic tradition

Tim Addey

Plato constantly plays upon themes of presence and absence in his dialogues: is this a technique to overcome the shortcomings of written philosophy? Does it encourage us to be more intensely present with the truths he is exploring? Is the absence of Plato himself from his dialogues mean that he is more able to be present with those who are following his tradition? Whatever tradition we follow - whether formally or informally, consciously or unconsciously, with discipline or haphazardly - we must come to terms with a range of presences and absences as part of the puzzle of the human condition: in this talk I hope to investigate ways of embracing both what is present and what is absent.

Tim Addey is the chairperson of the Prometheus Trust, the editor of the Thomas Taylor Series, the director of its education program, and the author of several books on the Platonic tradition.